The Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle (“The Paulist Fathers”) is a community of Catholic priests that seeks to introduce the Good News of Jesus Christ to people beyond the Church walls and to accompany Catholics who feel apart from the Church.
Rooted in hopefulness, the Paulist Fathers trust that the Holy Spirit is not only present in the world but is actively breathing life into all things.
The Paulist Fathers’ mission priorities include appreciating and using the gifts of people of color in the Church; welcoming those who feel excluded; inviting more women into leadership and ministry; and engaging young adults in their 20s and 30s.
THE WORD OF GOD IN A LANGUAGE THAT PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND
At our 2018 Ordinations Mass, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., spoke beautifully about the Paulist Fathers’ mission:
“From its very origin, your congregation has sought to speak the word of God in a language that people can understand. Servant of God Isaac Hecker and his companions suffered much for this passion. Yet their perseverance has enriched the Church in incredible ways. Like Pope Francis, you combine words and images so that your heart may speak to the hearts of others. And Paulists are not simply salt for the salt shaker, that is gifted men who minister exclusively in the comfort of nice Catholic enclaves. You are salt for the earth. You are light for the world. And you speak the word of life beyond the household of faith.“
Father Bart explained that, unlike other orders who take vows, the Paulists are a “Community of Apostolic Life”. They make two promises: Gospel Simplicity (a form of poverty), and Fidelity to the Paulist Constitution as outlined by Isaac Hecker.
Servant of God Isaac Hecker
Servant of God Isaac Thomas Hecker (Dec. 18, 1819 – Dec. 22, 1888) was the New York City-born son of German immigrants who spent his early life working in his family’s bakery and flour business. As a young man, he began a spiritual journey that eventually led to him to the Catholic Church. He became a priest and a faithful son of the Church who was not afraid of questioning, challenging, and experimenting. In 1858, together with his associates, Fr. Hecker founded the Paulist Fathers with the mission of helping the American people understand the Catholic Church and helping the Church understand the democratic spirit of America.
“Often in my boyhood, when lying at night on the shavings before the oven in the bakehouse, I would start up, roused in spite of myself, by some great thought…What does God desire from me? How shall I attain unto Him? What is it He has sent me into the world to do? These were the ceaseless questions of my heart, that rested, meanwhile, in an unshaken confidence that time would bring the answer.” Isaac T. Hecker (From statements made by Father Hecker towards the end of his life; “The Paulist Vocation” PV, 3)
Fr. Hecker was a brilliant missionary preacher, author, publisher, and pastor. It is our prayer that one day, he also will be known as a saint. The cause for Fr. Hecker’s beatification and canonization was formally opened in 2008 at which time he received the title “Servant of God.”
The resolution uses this definition: “Polarization occurs when two diametrically opposed positions emerge and is sustained through the espousing and reinforcement of sharply contrasting worldviews, cultural values, and social practices.”
It continues: “Over the past 50-plus years, this form of social polarization has been escalating and creating a destructive trajectory, leading to the current landscape marked by: the feuding divisions among family members, friends, colleagues, parishes and communities; the growth and spread of anxiety, addiction, depression, fear, trauma, suicide, and increasing acts of violence; the perpetuation of an illusion that this crisis is intractable, coupled with a loss of hope.”
The resolution poses these questions:
How do we respond to the civic and moral issues of our time (such as abortion, climate change, immigration, gender and sexuality, gun control, racism, and secularization) when toxic polarization impairs constructive dialogue?
How do we build community life within our own Paulist houses when toxic polarization creates barriers for respecting our differences?
How can we foster a culture of vocations if toxic polarization negatively attaches ideological labels to our Paulist charism and social image?
How do we feel safe? How do we care for ourselves and each other spiritually, emotionally, physically, and intellectually?
Is God calling you to serve His Church as a priest?
Do you know someone who would make a great priest?
Are you the family member or friend of a man discerning a vocation to the priesthood and religious life?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are in the right place!
Please explore these pages for answers to many of your vocations questions. Another good first step is to contact our vocation director at (212) 757-4260 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are the parent, family member, or friend of someone discerning a call to the priesthood or religious life, be sure to check out these features and interviews created just for you.
We know that some people view becoming a Catholic priest as a radical decision. They are correct! It’s a radical life! But, it’s a wonderful life. It’s a life filled with unique opportunities to reach out, bring peace, and seek unity among God’s people. And, as a Paulist Father, you may have the chance to share the Gospel in unexpected ways and in unexpected places. Be not afraid! God is with you!
“There is no other way for perfection for the great mass of Christians than in the performance of the common duties of life with an eye to God. The highest noblest and most perfect life is in the fulfillment of those daily duties imposed upon us by Almighty God. This is devotion.” Isaac T. Hecker
(From a letter to Simpson, February 22, 1861; “The Paulist Vocation” PV, 206)