Sainthood path begins for Paulist founder

Cardinal Egan has opened a “cause” for the canonization of Father Isaac Thomas Hecker, who founded the Paulist Fathers.

home.jpgHecker, a native New Yorker who was born in 1819, lived a difficult early life before converting to Catholicism, becoming a priest, and establishing the first religious congregation of Catholic men in America.

According to Beth Griffin of Catholic News Service:

Paulist Father Paul Robichaud, postulator of Father Hecker’s cause, officially requested that Cardinal Egan initiate the archdiocesan inquiry into “the life, service and holiness of this servant of God.” With the formal opening of his cause, Father Hecker receives the title servant of God.

Cardinal Egan accepted Father Robichaud’s request, declared he was initiating the inquiry and would consult with his brother bishops and petition the Holy See. Cardinal Egan took the first of several oaths promising to fulfill his duties for the archdiocesan inquiry.

At the start of the long, slow process of promoting sainthood, Egan celebrated a Mass at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle on the Upper West Side, a parish established by Hecker.

3.jpgEgan said:

Father Hecker is truly a saint for our day. We think of saints of people who went through life without challenges and without hurt. That changes with Isaac Hecker. … He is a saint like us: a saint who has suffered, a saint who made his way through life bearing crosses with a tremendous faith.

As Griffin explained:

(Egan) said the native New Yorker was born in 1819 to German immigrant parents. He escaped a yellow fever epidemic, nearly died of smallpox and carried its physical scars throughout his life. He worked with his older brothers in their successful bakery and flour business, but did not have an interest in commerce. He was disappointed with the outcome of political causes he supported.

He was a seeker.

The Paulist Fathers try to preach the Gospel in ways that resonate with contemporary culture, not an easy thing to do. They see themselves as missionaries in America, still.

A good example of their work is BustedHalo.com, a lively and provocative website that aims to be “An online magazine for spiritual seekers in their 20s and 30s.”

Here’s a good bio of Hecker on BustedHalo.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.