October 13, 1952 marked the 35th anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady to the children of Fatima, Portugal. Noting this date, His Excellency, John F. O’Hara, Archbishop of Philadelphia, selected Our Lady of Fatima as the title of the first parish he was to establish in the Archdiocese. After drawing up the parochial boundaries, he formally erected this parish on October 15, 1952. To carry out the Archbishop’s plan, he selected the Reverend James J. Gaffney to be Pastor. Father Gaffney arrived at the Tully-Secane Golf Course property to begin his new assignment. There were two structures on the property, an old farm house, built in 1840, which was used as the golf course’s club house and a second structure that housed the men’s locker room, built in 1861. The two buildings were in such poor condition that Father Gaffney lived at the Villa St. Joseph while overseeing the renovation of the buildings into a serviceable rectory and temporary chapel.Anxious to meet his parishioners, Father Gaffney began his first official visitation on October 20, 1952. The results indicated that there was an immediate need for a school. Permission was granted to construct a school, an auditorium, a convent, and an addition to the rectory.The new school opened for classes on September 27, 1953 with a faculty of six Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. As enrollment increased, it became necessary to add a two story addition to the original school building. It was completed in September, 1955 with the first level accommodating the parish’s social activities.
In May, 1960, ground was broken for the construction of the church structure. Father Gaffney offered the first Mass in the new church at midnight, Christmas, 1960.
The church was dedicated to honor Our Lady of Fatima in May, 1961 by then Archbishop, His Excellency, Most Reverend John J. Krol.
Bishop Edward T. Hughes, Monsignor Robert T. Mc Manus, Reverend Engelbert G. Michel and Monsignor George A. Majoros have served as pastors to our parish.
Under the direction of our present pastor, Reverend Francis Mulranen, Our Lady of Fatima Parish continues to service the Catholic community of Briarcliffe, Glenolden, Holmes, and Secane today.