Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
Since we are celebrating our Feast Day today I thought I would share just a bit of the story behind the founding of the Redemptorist Order and how the Holy Spirit led us to the corner of Cook & Grand.
After Alphonsus Liguori quit practicing law and became a priest, he had a great desire to go to the foreign missions. Since Naples was busting at the seams with priests, he wanted to go where there was a shortage of priests. That is, until he was making a retreat up the coast in the small resort town of Scala. Despite all the priests a mere 20 miles away and all the wealthy people vacationing along Scala's coast, the shepherds in the hills above Scala lived a very poor lifestyle and most had never even seen a priest. To make a long story short, Alphonsus decided to found an order of priests to minister to people like those shepherds. People who had been "abandoned" not only by society but The Church, as well.
When the Redemptorists came to the U.S., their primary ministries were preaching Parish missions (which are similar to revivals) and they ministered to immigrants. These people were often shunned by society and often neglected by The Church. Since most of those early Redemptorists were from places like France, Germany, and Belgium; they found it natural to help immigrants from those countries. They were actually very successful in helping these people fit into the great "melting pot" of America and establish themselves in both society and Church.
In the case of The Rock, the church was built strictly as a mission church and the Bishop promised not to make it a regular Parish. So the Redemptorists could use it as a base from which they could preach Parish missions. But God had other plans, and the Irish immigrants, who were, at that time, shunned by society and often neglected by The Church, began showing up Sunday after Sunday, until The Redemptorists had to accept that The Rock would be a Parish.
Fast forward once again, and it was African-Americans knocking on those doors of 1118 N. Grand. Despite a rather rocky (oops) beginning, the Holy Spirit once again had Her way! And you, of course, know the rest of the story. So today we give thanks to those Redemptorists, like Fr. Higgins, who followed the promoting of The Spirit, as well as the people of God who came knocking on our door in search of The Bread of Life.
In the Redeemer,