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Our Founder & the Path to Sainthood


A Man and a Vision

Isaac Thomas Hecker was born in New York City on December 18, 1819, the third son and youngest child of John and Caroline (Freund) Hecker. Ordained a Redemptorist priest in 1849, he founded the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle in New York on July 7, 1858. The society was established to evangelize both believers and non-believers in order to convert North America to the Roman 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. He founded the monthly publication, "The Catholic World," in 1865.

Father Hecker's spirituality centered on the action of the Holy Spirit upon the soul and the need to remain attentive to the prompting of the Spirit in the great and small moments of life. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Father Hecker labored to establish a dialogue between faith and culture, which he believed would lead to an American Catholicism whose vitality and optimism would transform the world.

In the latter years of his life, Father Hecker suffered suffered with dark nights of the soul that varied in intensity; this was combined with the physical problems of a weak heart and leukemia. While emotionally and physically overcome at moments, Father Hecker remained faithful through his sure belief in the Holy Spirit.

"God is now visiting me with the profoundest desolation of spirit. Yet I never knew that God would permit me to come so near to Him and love Him as I have," Father Hecker wrote.

On December 22, 1888, as the Paulist community gathered around his bed in prayer, Father Hecker raised his hand, making the Sign of the Cross in blessing, and died.

Postulator of the Cause for Canonization:Father Paul Robichaud, C.S.P.
Vice Postulator:Father Ronald A. Franco, C.S.P.
Phone:(202) 269-2519
Office for the Cause for Canonization
North American Paulist Center
3015 Fourth Street NE
Washington, DC 20017