The Missionary Society of St. Paul, otherwise known as "the Paulists," has received the approval of Cardinal James Egan of New York to begin proceedings that could lead to the canonization of the founder of that order, Father Issac Hecker. As the order prepares to celebrate its 150th anniversary next year, the hope is that the canonization process will begin.
Father Hecker, who died in 1888, founded the society in 1858. The Paulists were the first male Catholic religious order founded in the United States. Many people believe that fact alone is enough to justify the canonization.
In the beginning, Father Hecker converted from the Methodist religion to Catholicism, and initially entered the Redemptionists, but was later expelled because of his zeal to promote a ministry in this country. A few years later, with the blessing of then-Archbishop John Hughes, Hecker was given permission to found the Paulist order. Hecker is one of 25 priests buried at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Manhattan, a New York City church modeled after a Roman basilica that is sometimes called "the largest uncathedral in America."
(This item originally appeared in The Providence Visitor)