The Life of Father Hecker

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About the author:
Isaac Thomas Hecker (December 18, 1819 - December 22, 1888) was an American Roman Catholic Priest and founder of the Paulist Fathers, a North American religious society of men; he is named a Servant of God by the Catholic Church.

Originally ordained a Redemptorist priest in 1849, with the blessing of Pope Pius IX, Hecker founded the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle, now known as the Paulist Fathers, in New York on July 7, 1858. The Society was established to evangelize both believers and non-believers in order to convert America to the Catholic Church. Father Hecker sought to evangelize Americans using the popular means of his day, primarily preaching, the public lecture circuit and the printing press. One of his more enduring publications is The Catholic World, which he created in 1865.

Hecker's spirituality centered largely on cultivating the action of the Holy Spirit within the soul as well as the necessity of being attuned to how it is prompting one in great and small moments in life. Hecker believed that the Catholic faith and American culture were not opposed, but could be reconciled. The ideas of individual freedom, community, service, and authority were fundamental to Hecker when conceiving of how the Paulists were to be governed and administered. Hecker's work was likened to that of Cardinal John Henry Newman's, by the Cardinal himself. In a letter written to Father Augustine Hewit on the occasion of Father Hecker's death, Newman wrote: "I have ever felt that there was a sort of unity in our lives, that we had both begun a work of the same kind, he in America and I in England". Father Hecker's cause for Sainthood was opened January 25, 2008, in the mother Church of the Paulist Fathers on 59th St, New York City.

The Life of Father Hecker

Working for God

Authored by Rev. Walter Elliott

The life of the founder of the Paulist Order.
Isaac Thomas Hecker lives to-day, and with added years he will live more fully than he does to-day. His influence for good remains, and with a better understanding of his plans and ideals, which is sure to come, his influence will widen and deepen among laymen and priests of the Church in America. The writing of his biography is a tribute to his memory which the love and esteem of his spiritual children could not refuse; it is, also, a most important service to generations present and unborn, in whose deeds will be seen the fruits of inspirations gathered from it. We are thankful that this biography has been written by one who from closest converse and most intimate friendship knew Father Hecker so thoroughly. He has given us in his book what we need to know of Father Hecker. We care very little, except so far as details may accentuate the great lines of a life and make them sensible to our obtuse touch, where or when a man was born, what places he happened to visit, what houses he built, or in what circumstances of malady or in what surroundings he died. These things can be said of the ten thousand. We want to know the thoughts and the resolves of the soul which made him a marked man above his fellows and which begot strong influences for good and great works, and if none such can be unfolded then drop the man out of sight, with a "Requiescant in pace" engraven upon his tombstone. Few deserve a biography, and to the undeserving none should be given.

Publication Date:
149428457X / 9781494284572
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
8.5" x 11"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Biography & Autobiography / Religious

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