Love of God and Country

03-26-2017Encountering ChristHank Fatton

My name is Henry (Hank) Fatton. I believe I am one of the longest serving parishioners of St. Magdalen’s Church in Flemington. I was born in Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, NYC in June of 1922. When I was 12 years old, my parents sent me to live with friends in New Jersey since I was suffering from major intestinal problems. It was then that I first attended Mass at St. Magdalen’s. At that time, it was a wooden church on Park Avenue. In later years, the building was modernized with brick facing and now holds Catholic Charities.

I attended and graduated from Three Bridges 2-room schoolhouse on Main St. I then went on to graduate from Flemington High School on Bonnell St. After graduation and some fruitless job seeking, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy. My pay was $21.00 a day (once a month). I was sworn in on September 5, 1940, serving 6 years in the Navy, mostly in the Pacific, before, during, and after WWII. I was discharged as Chief Petty Officer with an honorable discharge.

During my service, I married my high school love, Joan Baker: “A million dollar baby from the 5 & 10 cent store” (that was a popular song about this time). Her father owned and operated Baker’s 5&10 on Main St., Flemington. After my discharge from the U.S. Navy, I went to work for my father in law for about 14 years. During this time, Joan and I had 7 children who all received their sacraments at St. Magdalen’s.

In the early years, following my discharge, I was a “joiner”: Flemington Lion’s Club, American Legion, VFW, Holy Name Society, Catholic War Veteran’s and the Knights of Columbus. When the children grew up and moved out of our house, we sold our large house and moved to the ‘shore’, where we lived for 25 years before returning to Flemington. My beautiful wife Joan died in 2007 after a long illness.

My Catholic faith is important to me because I am near the end of my life and I want to be ready to meet God. Mass prepares me to do what is right everyday—to meet people and to love them. The greatest joy I have in my Catholic faith is attending daily Mass whenever I am able. It allows me to start my day off on a positive note. I no longer drive so I am dependent on other people to take me to Mass. When other people help you out, it makes you want to be more generous. If I cannot attend Mass at St. Magdalen’s I watch it on EWTN. Going to Mass enables me to start my day with a positive outlook. Additionally, I send out a Gospel message from Notre Dame every day to friends and family; It is a way for me to love others and to be ecumenical. Needless to say, I love St. Magdalen’s, Flemington, and the U.S.A.