History of Our Lady of Fatima Church of Portland
The desire to have a grandson baptized in the traditional form proved to be the catalyst for the Society of St. Pius X founding a chapel in Portland. Mrs. Mary Kangas, a local radio talk show host and traditional Catholic, had heard about the Society and their foundation of a school in the US, and she and her family traveled to St. Mary’s, KS, to find a priest to baptize her grandson, and participate in a pilgrimage for the feast of the Assumption. While there, they met Fr. F. Douglas Laudenschlager from Phoenix, who had been making the Northwest circuit of Post Falls and Edmonds, WA. After three months and several letter exchanges, Fr. Laudenschlager agreed to come to Portland and said the first Mass for the new chapel on November 30, 1981, the feast of St. Andrew. The chapel was named St. Andrew the Apostle Mission. Newspaper ads preceded the first Mass and a group of 100 crowded into a meeting room at the Airport Hilton.
Through continued newspaper ads and a newsletter, a core of faithful Catholics shouldered the work of organizing hotel meeting rooms and all the preparations for a monthly Mass; the “hotel years” lasted for five years, with Frs. Laisney and Ranger also taking pastoral duty. In 1986, a property used by a Korean Assembly of God group came on the real estate market, and parishioners pooled their money to place a down payment. Fr. Daniel Couture celebrated the first Mass in the new building in September of 1986. As there was no church in Portland dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima, the chapel was renamed in her honor.
In 1988, the same year as the episcopal consecrations by Archbishop Lefevbre, Fr. Eugene Heidt, a diocesan priest, took a sabbatical and left his church in Gervais, OR, to cooperate with the Society of St. Pius the Tenth and pastor the Oregon chapels. A small chapel had been outfitted an hour away from Portland on his property in Silverton, OR, and Fr. Heidt made a three-church circuit every Sunday: Silverton, Portland, and Veneta. This continued until the priory was established in Veneta.
The chapel grew through the years both in attendance and building additions/improvements. In 2003 Fr. Heidt became ill, and he passed away in 2006; the chapel came again to the priests of the Society. The chapel in Silverton was combined with Portland and Our Lady of Fatima expanded to two Masses every Sunday.
Our Lady of Fatima Church in Portland continues as an oasis of traditional Catholic life amidst the confusion of modern culture. A rich parish life, built first and foremost upon the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, offers catechism classes as well as active groups for both adults and children. Parish-wide celebrations of liturgical feasts and a vibrant homeschooling community keep ours a joyful and welcoming chapel.