This past weekend, from Friday, April 9-11, Year of Our Lord 2021, I had the esteemed pleasure of attending the TFP Student Action Conference held at Running Cougar Ranch in Pattison, Texas. The theme for the conference was titled, “Defeating our Cancel and Woke Culture with our Fatima Future,” and I thought to myself upon signing up for the event, “What better way to prelude the upcoming YCT Convention than with a TFP Student Action Conference about cancel culture!” The event was entirely staffed by members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP), and I was eager to be a part of that conference with other like-minded men who were just as concerned as I was about the cancel culture and wokeism running rampant throughout contemporary American society.
It was an hour-long drive from my home in Northeast Houston to rural Pattison, Texas, driving through backroads and seeing the beautiful panorama of a Texas road trip. Once I had arrived at Running Cougar Ranch, I was greeted by various medieval flags from different eras in different Western countries lined up going towards the ranch house. I unpacked my stuff from my car, got situated in my bunk, and got to meet some of the TFP volunteers that I normally see in their videos on TFP Student Action’s YouTube channel. The evening was kicked off with a Louisiana-style etouffee (except it had shrimp over rice instead of shellfish) and fine wine, followed by a delicious Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream dessert. After dinner was done, Mr. John Ritchie, Director of the TFP Student Action, formally welcomed all of us participants to that weekend’s conference. The formal introduction was then followed by a Recitation of the Holy Rosary after dusk, wherein we formed up in a military-style formation aligning ourselves to the people next to us elbow-bent apart in a V-shaped formation, after the Rosary was concluded, the battle cry “FOR AMERICA!!!!!” was yelled by a TFP member, to which then we replied, “Tradition! Family! Property!”
“Tradition! Family! Property!”
“Tradition! Family! Property!”
We then returned inside to listen to instructions on how our living arrangements for showers, bathrooms, and appropriate dress code were going to be enforced throughout the entirety of the conference. Along with that came a brief rundown of the proposed itinerary of what the conference was going to look like for the weekend. Shortly afterwards, it was lights out at 10:00 PM Central Time so to prepare ourselves for the following day.
Around 8:00 AM, we were alarmed to the sound of drums and bagpipes to the tune of “Scotland the Brave,” alerting us that it was time to wake up. The room leader, an assigned TFP member, called us to the military position of attention for the morning prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, and after changing out of our pajamas and into our formal attire in an hour’s time, we formed outside in block formation for the opening prayer of the day as according to proper TFP protocol, the singing of the Nicene “Credo” in Latin during the raising of the flags of the Holy See, the United States, and the Grand Standard of the TFP, all of which are common sights at TFP-organized events. This was followed by a sausage & egg breakfast followed by the welcoming of the International Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which shed real human tears in New Orleans in the year 1972, where we were lined up in two straight lines along the main walkway to the ranch house arm-length apart from each other and welcome Our Lady with Marian hymns and chants. Then, Mr. Rex Teodosio, Director of the TFP-Midwest Regional Seat gave a talk on the specific requests of Our Lady when she appeared in 1917 at Fatima, Portugal. These requests were to Pray & to do Penance as often and as frequent as possible, and then Mr. Teodosio elaborated further on how the First Saturday devotion was established to fulfill these requests, and that meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary was critical to its recitation, or in his words, “The Rosary without meditation is like a gun without bullets.”
Before and after every talk given by a keynote speaker at the event, a prayer was recited, usually a Marian one (although the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel was sometime said) before the presence of the International Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady. Each time a prayer was concluded, a patron saint would be invoked three times (each one different), and the response was the same and got louder each time, “Pray for us!” “Pray for us!” “PRAY FOR US!” After a brief 10-minute recess in between talks, the next talk featuring Mr. Cesar Franco, Director of TFP-Texas, was titled, “The Gates of hell Shall Not Prevail,” which covered the current crisis inside the Catholic Church and the TFP’s Mission of Fidelity of the TFP’s founder, Brazilian thinker Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, to both the See of Peter and Holy Mother Church more broadly. This was then followed by lunch outside beneath a makeshift tent adorned with flags from various Western countries with rich histories of monarchy. Saturday’s lunch was Bison burgers and HEB Creamy Creations orange and lime-flavored sherbet for dessert shortly afterwards.
After lunch, the next talk, hosted by Mr. James Bascom from the TFP Washington Bureau, centered on the origins of socialism/communism, how Our Lady of Fatima correctly predicted its spread throughout the entire world, and how it has metamorphosized into various different forms of progressivism and liberalism, especially here in the United States in the wake of wokeism, public policy from the far left, and cancel culture. This was then followed by Mr. John Horvat’s talk of needing “A Great Reset: Just Not the One You’re Thinking Of.” Mr. Horvat, who serves as the American TFP’s national Vice-President, based his talk largely on his book “Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society-Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go.” He elaborated on how much society has become, in his own (paraphrased) words, “Like a never-ending party on a cruise ship that won’t stop unless someone or something stops it.” That something, he said, was the COVID-19 pandemic, and that leftists have now seized the opportunity to enact what they call a “Great Reset.” Although he agreed on a need for a reset, he disagreed as to what kind of reset was it going to be. For leftists, the Great Reset was going to be one of how America’s history should be viewed upon as bad and ill-fated especially at the expense of certain minority groups, whereas Mr. Horvat thought the reset that is actually needed in society was one of returning to organic Christian principles that gave fruit to the Christendom of medieval society.
After another brief 10-minute recess, both Mr. Rex Teodosio and Mr. Cesar Franco co-hosted a hands-on debate & campaign practice for Sunday’s street campaign activity. The attendees were split up into who would do what for the campaign, in other words, who would be a part of the pipe band, who would be in charge of holding campaign banners, who would hoist TFP Grand Standards and American flags, and who would be engaging in the one-on-one street debates as they held signs encouraging passersby to honk their horns. I was assigned to the lattermost role, which meant that I would stay inside and practice and hone my debate skills for the next day’s activity. One of the tips provided to us by Mr. Teodosio was to stay calm at all times, if a counter-protester starts hitting or pushing, yell out loud, “Aggressor! Aggressor!” Another key tip was to not start the debates ourselves, wait until someone passing by had something to say and then respond in a polite and conversational manner.
Then, dinner was served! It was chicken alfredo, pasta, and Italian salad along with a varied beer selection for everyone to choose from. Once dinner had passed and dusk was upon the ranch, everyone went back inside for a talk presented by one of the Miraculous Statue’s custodians about his travels with the Sacred Image and how the miracle of shedding real tears came about. After a brief Q&A with the custodian, everyone participated in an all-night vigil before the Miraculous International Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady. I took up the 9:00-10:00 PM timeslot and prayed a series of Rosaries before the Pilgrim Statue, and then from there went straight to bed to prepare myself for the long day ahead on Sunday.
Finally! Campaign day had arrived! On this day, the rising was two hours earlier. The sound of drums and bagpipes playing “Scotland the Brave” awoke us at 6:00 AM. Afterward, we lined up in block formation as we did the day before, except this time, we were assigned to different vans to travel on with different people. We were preparing to travel to Regina Caeli Parish in Houston, Texas, to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Tridentine Rite. Immediately after Mass, we ate a croissant breakfast at the parish from the tailgate of a TFP volunteer’s pickup truck! And then, it was on to the campaign!
We drove to downtown Houston and arrived at Hermann Park for the street campaign. We situated ourselves directly in front of the Sam Houston Equestrian Statue and then proceeded to march onward toward Mecom Fountain, which is a small, oval-shaped roundabout just a few blocks north of the Sam Houston Statue. The sweet sounds of drums and bagpipes once again resounded among the conference attendees-turned campaign goers for the next two hours. The themes for the campaign, specifically, were pro-life (anti-abortion), pro-family (anti-same-sex marriage), and Return to Order. We held signs encouraging passersby to honk their horns to show their support for pro-life and pro-family values, with messages that read “Smile! You survived abortion!” and “God’s Marriage = One Man + One Woman” and “Pray for USA.” We yelled our messages in an echo fashion with phrases such as “It was Adam and Eve, NOT ADAM AND STEVE!”, “Marriage is an institution that predates the state, AND THE STATE DOES NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHANGE IT!”, “Smile! YOU SURVIVED ABORTION!”, and lastly, “If America fails to protect the unborn, AMERICA FAILS TO PROTECT HER FUTURE!” Amid the rouse of all of it, we did get a few middle fingers and slur words directed our way simply because those hecklers were too triggered to disagree and engage in civil discourse with us. The pipe band performed Marian hymns, American patriotic songs, and a wide array of other classical tunes to help lift the spirits of the participants such as myself to continue getting horn honks from drivers making their way around the roundabout.
When asked by TFP Student Action director John Ritchie how has the overall reaction been from the people who saw our campaign protest, I answered, “So far, we’ve had a couple of honks and hecklers, but overall, just thrilled to be here, to be around like-minded people, the feedback we’ve been getting so far has been tremendous, and we hope to keep it up soon!”
After a long day campaigning on the streets, we made our way back to Pattison and arrived in time for a panini lunch, which had melted cheese, spinach, and oven-baked ham topped on sourdough bread. Afterwards, we were debriefed on the various activities of the American TFP within the last few years, such as Fatima Home Visits, anti-blasphemy protests, campus crusades, opening new regional seats throughout the country, among many other activities. We then went into another 10-minute break shortly afterwards, and then the final talk of both the day and the conference was presented by Mr. Norman Fulkerson, biographer of Vietnam War hero and Medal of Honor recipient Col. John W. Ripley, USMC, and Director of TFP-Florida. His presentation was focused on the life of St. Louis de Montfort, how he exemplified the virtues and qualities of being always devoted to the Virgin Mary, especially during a time such as the one he lived in, the Ancien Regime of the old Kingdom of France, and how we as men and counterrevolutionaries fighting the Culture War on the front lines must be able to do the same and imitate his example in today’s broken society. This was then followed by a portobello mushroom dinner, which was subsequently followed by a procession and Veneration of a Relic of the True Cross (the cross upon which Our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified). However, I was not able to attend the latter two events since I had to return home early. But nonetheless, it was still a memorable three-day weekend to be a part of!
All in all, it was a true pleasure to have attended this conference. I can only hope that this event has helped me get a better understanding of the culture crisis in our society, to continue fighting for Christian conservative values and principles, and as Col. John W. Ripley himself said, to “Press the Attack!” Salve Maria! Viva Cristo Rey! And God Bless Y’all!
Daniel Villalva is the Former Copy Editor for The Texas Horn. He is 23 years old and originally from Houston, Texas. Daniel is a Sport Management major here at UT Austin, and he enjoys writing for The Texas Horn because it is a tremendous gateway to disseminate his thoughts and opinions on topics such as sports, politics, and history. Some of his hobbies include talking about those things and especially watching sports on TV.