Birthdays. We have a few of them in December. This week on Tuesday we celebrate the Birth of Jesus. We don’t know the exact date of His birth, but Dec. 25 is as good a date as any.
This past Tuesday, on Dec. 18, we celebrated another birthday, the 199th birthday of Fr. Isaac Thomas Hecker, CSP. He was the inspiration for, and founder of, the Paulist Fathers. The Paulist have served here at St. Austin’s parish since its founding in 1910.
Isaac Hecker was a great seeker. He was always looking, seeking, searching to discern God’s Will for him, his companions, and his country the United States of America. He was optimistic and open. He had a mystical bent wrapped up in can-do Yankee pragmatism. He believed in the United States, and he believed in the Catholic Church, and unlike so much of the rest of his generation and society, he did not see a contradiction between them. Indeed, he saw that they really needed each other. The Church needed the enthusiasm and energy and enterprise of the American character, and the United States needed the communal responsibility and sense of purpose of the Catholic Church. Both were better together in his understanding. And I think he is correct.
If you have some time this holiday season, I invite you to check out Hecker’s and the Paulists’ story at http://www.paulist.org/who-we-are/our-history/isaac-hecker. You can find out a little more about the Paulists who have served here for over a hundred and ten years.