A Short Biography of Reverend Paul Wickens and
History of the Chapel of Saint Anthony of Padua

Rev. Paul A. Wickens was born and raised in the Roseville section of Newark, New Jersey, one of nine children by saintly parents. Fr. Wickens attended St. Rose of Lima grammar school and Seton Hall Prep and University. After 6 years at Immaculate Conception Seminary (Darlington, N.J.), he was ordained to the priesthood on June 4, 1955 by Archbishop Thomas A. Boland. During his seminary training, he had the great blessing to be instructed by holy and militant men such as Bishop George Ahr, Bishop Justin McCarthy, and Monsignor Thomas Powers.

First Assignment

Upon ordination, the young Fr. Wickens was assigned to St. Venantius Church in Orange, New Jersey. The next 28 years (under Monsignor Peter Kurz and Fr. Carl Merzena) were busily spent, not only as a parish priest but also as chaplain for Orange Memorial Hospital, New Jersey Orthopedic Hospital, and Whitehouse Nursing Home. He was also a parochial school teacher, youth director, athletic coach (basketball, baseball, and football), and Cana conference moderator. Besides the usual daily Masses, Baptisms, weddings, funerals, and convert instructions, Fr. Wickens found time to serve as the police and fire chaplain for the city of Orange.

Aftermath of Vatican II

In the years following the problematic Second Vatican Council (1965 ff.), Fr. Wickens gradually became aware that the “changes” in the Church were causing a wholesale loss of souls. Everywhere, genuine Catholic life was lessening: marriage breakups became frequent; schools, convents, and seminaries were closing (to be sold off) at an accelerated pace. A whole generation of Catholic youth was deprived of its religious heritage. In fact, some new-breed priests and nuns encouraged young people to forego humility, chastity, and obedience. Catholic parents, who had always given good example, became puzzled and sorrowful: How could this moral decline have entered their homes? What caused all this damage? Obviously, the enemy (i.e., heresy and moral relativism) had sowed his evil seed through diocesan pulpits and classrooms. But the greatest victory for Satan was this: the Traditional Latin Mass—the faith of our fathers—was thrown aside for a new, “updated,” so-called “liturgy.” The “New Order of Mass” (aka Novus Ordo) invaded the sanctuary. What a disaster! The Novus Ordo is man-centered, not God-centered. The new liturgy is scarcely a reenactment of the Holy Sacrifice of Calvary. It is virtually devoid of grace. The tabernacle was placed off to the side; communion in the hand and other disrespectful practices diminished belief in the Real Presence. As a consequence, unbelief and immorality became unbridled.

Classroom Sex Education

The final straw—or, as author Randy Engel noted, The Final Plague—was the devilish promotion of classroom sex education. It was bad enough that Catholic bishops energetically lobbied for this perversion into the public schools. But when these same New Jersey bishops mandated the sex ed in Catholic schools (from kindergarten through Grade 10), Fr. Wickens called a press conference to express the outrage of Catholic parents.

The Liberals React

The local modernist bishops (Bps. Gerety and McCarrick) immediately moved to punish Fr. Wickens. His salary, pension savings, hospitalization, stipends, and all temporal resources were taken away. Fr. Wickens discovered that recourse to civil and ecclesiastical courts was futile, because both judicial systems were in league with the liberal prelates. Every attempt for a fair hearing was met with a summary dismissal. No testimony, no witnesses, no depositions, no opportunity to present both sides of the dispute. Although John Paul II personally invited Fr. Wickens to concelebrate Mass with him in the Pope’s own chapel—obviously, a sign of solidarity and support—the Vatican was afraid to oppose the affluent Newark bishops. So be it! “God will provide”—and He did provide.

Origin of an Apostolate

The heavy-handed persecution was a blessing in disguise. A door had been closed, but God opened a window. Fr. Wickens discovered a well-kept secret—namely, that there are hundreds and thousands of Catholics who are determined to resist the harmful changes and to maintain the true Catholic Faith. The founding of St. Anthony of Padua Chapel is the result of the faith and zeal of these courageous Catholics. Unafraid of the opprobrium hurled at them by modernists, they remain faithful to tradition. Their love of Jesus Christ and their love for their families has taken priority over any sacrifices of times, distance, or persecution. The words of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, echo in our hearts: Blessed art thou when men persecute you for My sake. Your reward shall be great in heaven. The great St. Anthony of Padua has been our constant guide and intercessor. We pray that more and more people will say “no” to liberal Catholicism and embrace once again the true Catholic Faith—the faith of our fathers and of the saints and martyrs.

Timeline: St. Anthony of Padua Chapel

April 1984  

Traditional Latin Mass established at the Green Mountain Club in West Orange, New Jersey

September 1988  

Mass site moved to larger quarters at the American Legion in Livingston, New Jersey

October 1994  

Groundbreaking of new chapel in West Orange, New Jersey

June 1996  

Chapel opened for public worship

October 1996  

Apostolic blessing received from John Paul II

November 1996  

Chapel and main altar consecrated by Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX)

June 2000

Attendance at three Sunday Masses continued to increase. More and more children and adults were being baptized. The Sacrament of Penance (Confession) was received by a large number of people every week. The total, traditional Catholic religion was taught and practiced.

July 8, 2004 Father Paul Wickens passed away after a 6-month battle with cancer. Requiescant in pace, Father.
November 2004 Against Father Wickens' final wishes, the management of the West Orange property decided to affiliate with the Newark Archdiocese -- the same corrupt diocese that Father Wickens warned against for years. Father Wickens' faithful followers depart West Orange for a truly Traditional Catholic chapel.
January 2005 To honor Father Wickens and continue his apostolate, St. Anthony of Padua Mission is established. Please visit the Mission's website at www.latin-mass.net


DISCLAIMER: This website is not affiliated with the current (2005) management of St. Anthony's in West Orange, New Jersey, and does not reflect the opinion or position of the administrators of that property.

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