A celebration will be held for Frances Regina Fields on Sunday, April 14 — the day before here 100th birthday — at Dante Hall, St. Michael Church, Atlantic City.
Frances Regina Fields was born to Thomas and Julia Harris on April 15, 1913 in Wilmington, Del. She was a member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church where her father worked as a custodian and the family lived on the church grounds. Ms. Fields was educated by the nuns and made her first holy Communion and confirmation at the age of 8.
Shortly thereafter, a friend wrote to Mr. Harris and requested that he move his family to Atlantic City to help establish a Black Catholic Church on ground donated by Emma Lewis. An old house on the grounds required cleaning and the basement of the house was used for meetings. A priest was requested to come to the church on Sunday to hear confessions, say Mass and give Communion.
At that time the church consisted of a small altar and some benches. When a priest was not available, the congregation would say the Rosary or Stations of the Cross.
When the congregation grew to a number that warranted a charter, a priest, Father Leo Hudzik, was sent to lead the parish. The church was named after St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine and woman known for her persistence and strong faith.
Mrs. Fields worked as a chambermaid at the Tragmore. After the birth of her children, Arnold and Andrea, she began working for Hombergers. She is a proud grandmother of Tanya and Michael and a great-grandmother of Jason and Christian.
Mrs. Fields is an active member of St. Monica’s, participating in the Supreme Ladies’ Auxiliary and the Altar and Rosary Society. She also helped clean the church until 10 years ago.
Mrs. Fields’ dedication to St. Monica’s is truly in the spirit of Mother Lewis, said parishioners who are coordinating the celebration.