The Redemptorists

Fostering a missionary spirit at St. Michael
 

The Redemptorists, officially known as the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, are an Order of priests and Brothers that numbers more than 5,500 members, serving people in more than 75 countries. The Redemptorists have staffed St. Michael’s, and served generations of parishioners, since 1860.
 

The Catholic Church includes many such orders, including the Alexian Brothers, the Benedictines, the Jesuits, and others, each with their own special missions or charisms. In the Redemptorist’s case, their mission is to proclaim the Good News of Redemption, especially to the most abandoned and, in particular, the poor.

The Redemptorists were founded in Italy by missionary priest Alphonsus Liguori (later St. Alphonsus Liguori), a charismatic leader, In 1730, exhausted from his missionary work, he went to Scala, high in Italy’s mountains, to rest and recover.  Eventually, he left Scala, but the images of the poor and their hunger for the Word of God remained with him. After much prayer and consultation, he recognized that he must return to Scala. So, it was there on November 9,  1732 he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. The congregation was approved by Pope Benedict XIV on February 25, 1749.

The Redemptorists have been in North America since 1832 and became the prevalent missionaries ministering to German Catholic immigrants in many U.S. cities and dioceses. In 1860, Bishop James Duggan, the 4th Bishop of Chicago, asked the Redemptorists to respond to the needs of the immigrants of the 8-year-old St. Michael’s Parish in Old Town neighborhood and the Redemptorists have served there since.

Redemptorists often live in Missionary communities. St. Michael’s, for example, is not only home to four priests who provide parish ministry, but a number of other Redemptorist priests who, by means of missions, retreats, and other efforts, proclaim the love of God the Father.

Learn more about the Redemptorists

Reflect on the following important passages from the Constitutions and Statutes of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. The C&S directs the way of life that all Redemptorists observe through their vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The first chapter is entitled “The Missionary Work of the Congregation” and the first section is listed as the “Evangelization of the Poor":

3. The most abandoned, to whom in particular the Congregation is sent, are those for whom the Church has not yet been able to provide sufficient means of salvation, those who have never heard the Church's message, or at least do not receive it as the "Good News", and finally those who suffer harm because of division in the Church.

At the same time the Congregation directs its apostolic zeal towards the faithful who enjoy ordinary pastoral care; for they need to be strengthened in faith, continually converted to God, and bear witness to the faith in everyday life.  

4. Among groups of people more in need of spiritual help, they will give special attention to the poor, the deprived and the oppressed. The evangelization of these is a sign of messianic activity (cf. Luke 4:18), and Christ, in a certain sense, wished to identify himself with them (cf. Matt. 25:40).  

5. Preference for situations where there is a pastoral need, that is, for evangelization in the strict sense together with the choice in favor of the poor is the very reason why the Congregation exists in the Church and is the badge of its fidelity to the vocation it has received.

 

Indeed the Congregation's mandate to evangelize the poor is directed to the liberation and salvation of the whole human person. The members have the duty of preaching the Gospel explicitly and of showing solidarity with the poor by promoting their fundamental rights to justice and freedom. The means employed must be effective and at the same time consistent with the Gospel. These constitutions include important components of what Redemptorist life and ministry are about. At St. Michael, there are key elements of these constitutions reflected in our parish community already. One example is our reputation far and wide of being a welcoming and inclusive place for people to worship.

Read the Redemptorist mission

 
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