Sunday, September 17, 2006

National Catholic Register: St. John Hardon?

The following was submitted by John B, with permission from John Burger, of the National Catholic Register, to publish on the web after September 13.

St. John Hardon?

National Catholic Register
August 13-19, 2006

Register Staff Writer

BARRINGTON, Ill. — Preliminary steps toward opening a cause of canonization for Jesuit Father John Hardon don’t surprise those who knew the priest.

At the annual Marian Catechist Apostolate retreat in July in Barrington, Ill., Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis made an appeal for testimonies to the sanctity of Father Hardon, the apostolate’s founder.

“I think if half of Father Hardon’s ideas were implemented, we’d be living in a nation of saints,” said his friend and occasional collaborator Father Joseph Johnson, rector of the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minn.

He remembers how people who came to Father Hardon for his advice or blessing for their work would walk away with three other projects.

“He’d take the good you were doing and help you fine-tune it, and say, as long as you’re going down this road, here are a few other things,” Father Johnson said.

Father Hardon himself always added those “few other things” to his own endless apostolic work that lasted until he died at age 86 during the hour of Divine Mercy on Dec. 30, 2000.

A priest for 53 year and a member of the Society of Jesus for 64, he showed his zeal for souls writing scores of books and endless articles, giving countless conferences and retreats, founding a number of apostolates, and promoting Eucharistic adoration and devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Mother.

He worked at the Vatican for more than 30 years and promoted the use of all the media to evangelize and catechize.

In fact, Father Hardon was asked to write the catechist-training home correspondence course for Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s Missionaries of Charity, which every sister in the order takes to be able to evangelize and catechize. He became a spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa, and he developed the same course to prepare lay catechists to re-Christianize society, teaching and spreading the faith through the Marian Catechist Apostolate he founded.

According to Elizabeth Mitchell, dean of students at Trinity Academy in Pewaukee, Wis., in Oct. 2005 the Marian Catechist Apostolate asked its national director, Archbishop Burke, to look into introducing the cause for Father Hardon’s canonization.

“There seems to be quite a groundswell of support because of the number of people convinced of the heroic sanctity of Father Hardon,” Mitchell said.

Among them is Richard Guzior of The Real Presence Association in Chicago, an apostolate Father Hardon founded to promote and spread Eucharistic adoration (

On all the trips Guzior took with Father Hardon, especially to Eucharistic congresses, he remembers the priest always working from 5 or 6 a.m. to midnight or later.

“He never wasted any time,” Guzior said. “He would always be saying the Rosary for everybody’s intentions — thousands and thousands of Rosaries.”

With people talking about sainthood and the sixth anniversary of Father Hardon’s death approaching, Archbishop Burke said the time seems right to look into the possibility of opening the cause.

He enlisted Mitchell, a Marian Catechist and former translator for L’Osservatore Romano, to look into the process and do the groundwork.

“I myself discovered it was possible for one apostolate to introduce a cause for the sainthood of the founder of the apostolate,” Archbishop Burke said. “Right now we’re doing the preliminary work to see if the Marian Catechist Apostolate would be in a position to ask for the cause.”

The archbishop had worked with Father Hardon on the development of this apostolate and had asked its founder to establish it in the La Crosse, Wis., Diocese, where he was bishop at the time.
“When I met him he was quite elderly and seriously ill but tireless in carrying this forward,” Archbishop Burke told the Register. “With Father Hardon, I got to know a number of the lay people and priests in the apostolate and see the terrific influence he had on them, leading them to a greater holiness of life and dedicating themselves in a more generous way to the apostolate.”

The same holds for his other apostolates like the Father John A. Hardon, S.J. Media Apostolate, of which Mitchell is an advisory board member.

“Father Hardon couldn’t stress enough the urgent need for the Gospel to be proclaimed through the means of mass communication in the modern world,” she said. “It’s truly a part of his whole vision on the formation of the Church — catechesis and evangelization through the media — with a serious commitment to prayer so that by truly becoming individual saints, we would re-evangelize our nation and the world.”

Used Lord’s Gifts
Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, provost of Ave Maria University, recalls how Father Hardon encouraged new groups and movements.

“It wasn’t just a kind word,” Father Fessio said. “He’d pray for them and go out of his way to speak to them. If the smallest group asked him to come, he’d travel around the country to give a talk.”

Despite speaking very softly and not including anecdotes in his talks, “people flocked to hear him preach,” Father Johnson recalls. “The integrity of the message coming from his heart so full of love for Christ was what made it so powerful.”

“Father Hardon took every gift the Lord had given him,” he added, “and he used it 100%.”

When could the official opening of the cause and naming Father Hardon a Servant of God come? Once protocols are met, practically anytime, explained Mitchell. She has already received a directive from Rome to begin gathering testimonies from people of advanced age so as not to lose their witness.

Archbishop Burke also must name a postulator well prepared to direct the cause of the saint before announcing the cause has been opened.

At the same time, Mitchell said, Archbishop Burke would like to see a groundswell of prayer for the eventual cause, and, of course, prayers to Father Hardon himself for help in all good endeavors and particular needs.

Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut

People who would like to give a testimony can contact:
Elizabeth Mitchell
c/o Trinity Academy
W225 N3131 Duplainville Road Pewaukee, WI 53072

DECEMBER 26, 2006 EDIT: Archbishop Burke is coming to Detroit on December 30, 2006 to remember Fr. John A. Hardon.