Who are the Paulists?

The Paulist Fathers are the first American religious community of priests. They were founded to share the Catholic faith with the fledgling American republic using creative means to share the Gospel appropriately different from European ways. Since the large Church gathering known as the Second Vatican Council in the mid 1960s, the Paulists have focused their missionary vision through three prisms:

  • Evangelization: bringing the message of Jesus Christ to the more than 100 million Americans who have no religious affiliation,
  • Reconciliation: reaching out in understanding and welcome to the more than 30 million Americans who have left the Catholic Church over the last few decades,
  • Ecumenism: working for the unity of Christ’s followers (ecumenism) and seeking avenues of understanding with our brothers and sisters of other faith traditions, including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism (interfaith dialogue and cooperation).

The Paulists were founded in 1858 by Fr. Isaac Thomas Hecker and 4 companions. Hecker’s cause for canonization was opened in the Archdiocese of New York in 2008 and forwarded to the Vatican in 2023.

The video to the right is of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ decision to forward the cause from the Archdiocese of New York to the Vatican in 2023. It includes a brief speech by Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the life and legacy of Fr. Hecker. To learn more about Fr. Hecker, this page includes a brief biography and a 52-minute documentary.

Someone once said, “The Paulist Fathers are those priests who serve their God by serving those outside their Church.” In many ways, this shorthand description of the Paulist vocation is as true today as it was more than fifty years ago when it was first said. The Paulist Center Community is one place in the United States where the Paulists serve their threefold mission. Together with our Paulist Associates and Paulist Center community members, we continue to reach out in welcome and to work for social justice. To learn more about the Paulist Fathers, go to www.paulist.org.