Did a miracle occur in Knoxville, Tennessee?” This is the question at the heart of an inquiry just initiated by Bishop Richard Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville. Bishop Stika has established an inquiry board headed by Cardinal Justin Rigali (now in residence in Knoxville) to investigate the recent claim of a possible medical miracle which has been attributed to the intercession of Servant of God Isaac Hecker.
SERVANT of GOD ISAAC HECKER (1819-1888) was an American Roman Catholic priest born in New York City. He was originally ordained for the Redemptorist Order in 1849. After a strong desire to establish a Redemptorist novitiate in the United States and conflict with his superiors, Father Hecker was expelled from the Order. He persevered and, in 1858, was given permission by Pope Pius IX to found the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle (the Paulists).
His thought and life’s work was to establish a robust dialogue between the Catholic faith and American culture. Father Hecker sought to evangelize Americans using the popular means of his day, primarily preaching, the public lecture circuit and the printing press. He founded the monthly publication, “The Catholic World,” in 1865.
Father Hecker’s spirituality centered largely on cultivating the action of the Holy Spirit within the soul as well as the necessity of being attuned to how it is prompting one in great and small moments in life. He believed that the Catholic faith and American culture were not opposed, but could be reconciled. The ideas of individual freedom, community, service, and authority were fundamental to him when conceiving of how the Paulists were to be governed and administered.
His work was likened to that of Cardinal John Henry Newman, by the Cardinal himself. In a letter written to Father Augustine Hewit on the occasion of Father Hecker's death, Newman wrote: "I have ever felt that there was a sort of unity in our lives, that we had both begun a work of the same kind, he in America and I in England".
Father Father Hecker’s cause for Sainthood was opened January 25, 2008, in the mother Church of the Paulist Fathers on 59th St, New York City.