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Isaac Hecker’s cause for canonization approved by US Bishops


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Philip Kosloski - published on 11/15/23

Isaac Hecker is most well-known for founding the Missionary Priests of St. Paul the Apostle, more commonly known as the Paulists.

During their November Plenary Assembly, the bishops of the United States (USCCB) gave their approval to pursuing a cause for canonization of Isaac Hecker.

This approval simply means the bishops support the cause and encourage the organizers to continue researching Hecker and his life.

According to the USCCB’s press release, “[Hecker] continues to provide an inspirational model for our contemporaries to think about the search for God, the experience of conversion, the giving of oneself heroically in service, the furthering of the Church’s mission, and attentiveness to the direction of the Holy Spirit.”

His cause for canonization was originally opened in the Archdiocese of New York in January 2008. The first stage involves an in-depth review of his life to determine if he lived a life of “heroic virtue.”

The Catholic Church is my star

As a young adult, Hecker struggled with God’s plan for his life, and tried to search for his place in the world. At first he turned to philosophy and studied such figures as Hegel and Kant. Then in 1842 Hecker started to have mystical visions. He wrote about one such heavenly vision that changed his approach to the world.

I saw (I cannot say I dreamt for it was quite different from dreaming since I was seated on the side of my bed) a beautiful angelic, pure being and myself standing alongside of her, feeling a most heavenly pure joy. And it was if our bodies were luminous and they gave forth a moon-like light, which I felt sprang from the joy that we experienced. 

Initially he was mentored by a Protestant preacher, but then started to question his own religion and began investigating the Catholic Church.

Hecker was soon after baptized in the Catholic Church in 1844. He wrote afterwards, “The Catholic Church is my star, which will lead me to my life, my destiny, my purpose.”

He was ordained a priest with the Redemptorists, but then felt God call him to found the Missionary Priests of St. Paul the Apostle, more commonly known as the Paulists.

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