Monday, January 14, 2008

American Missionary... "Americanist" Saint

The Paulist Fathers have adopted 13 patron saints. And as the community of communicators marks its 150th anniversary -- and the church universal preps for a Pauline Year -- they're aiming to make their founder #14.

Later this month, Gotham's Cardinal Edward Egan will open the cause for canonization of the community's founder, Fr Isaac Thomas Hecker. The 27 January kickoff liturgy formally designating Hecker "Servant of God" will take place at St Paul the Apostle on 59th Street -- the church Archbishop John Hughes entrusted the candidate and his first confreres as their first mission-field in 1858 that remains Paulist Central to this day.

A Methodist convert, Hecker lived with Thoreau, began his vocational path as a Redemptorist, was kicked out of the Reds and made his way onto a terna or two before founding the most prominent US-based community of men. An adviser to the church's quintessential "American prince" -- Baltimore's Cardinal James Gibbons -- he remarked after his reception that his new faith was "my star, which will lead me to my life, my destiny, my purpose."

Among many others, the constellation of Paulist apostolates includes ecumenical and interfaith work, youth ministry, BustedHalo and a smattering of parishes including Santa Susanna, the national church for Americans in Rome. Another of 'em is the St Thomas More Newman Center at Ohio State in Columbus... where your narrator will be a-talkin' on Thursday evening. As always with the Paulists, all are welcome.