Servant of God
Father John Anthony Hardon, S.J.
Marian Catechist Apostolate
The History of the Apostolate
Saint Pope John Paul II was the first to call for a New Evangelization in response to the loss of faith in God in our time. The work of the New Evangelization, he declared, is to proclaim the Good News in such a way as to lead people to faith in Jesus Christ by means of the transformation of their hearts (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte). Servant of God Father John A. Hardon, S.J. was responding to this call for a New Evangelization when he founded the Marian Catechist Apostolate.
In the early 1980’s, Pope John Paul II lamented the fact that so many people were living and dying without any knowledge of Jesus Christ. One of the actions he took to reverse this dismal trend was to ask Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta to prepare her Sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, not only to care for the immediate material needs of the poor, but also to evangelize them, to teach them about God’s immeasurable love for them and about His desire to be united with them in Heaven for all eternity.
Mother Teresa turned to Father Hardon for the help she needed to prepare her Sisters to evangelize the poorest of the poor. Father Hardon was an eminent theologian and master catechist (one who teaches the Faith), the author of over forty major works of theology, spirituality, and catechesis, and one of the world’s most respected authorities on the Catholic Faith. He began to teach the Missionaries of Charity; at the same time, he began to prepare the texts that would eventually become a set of home study courses used to teach the richness of the Catholic Faith and its practice to the lay faithful. Today, the Missionaries of Charity, along with countless lay members of the Church, use Father Hardon’s courses to prepare themselves to be effective witnesses of the Faith to all they meet.
In time, Father Hardon established the Marian Catechist Apostolate to form catechists, both spiritually and doctrinally, for the teaching of the Faith. Father Hardon was elated when His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, then-Bishop of La Crosse, Wisconsin, decided to use Father Hardon’s home study courses to form catechists in his Diocese. Several years later, on December 12, 1999, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, then-Bishop Burke established the Marian Catechist Apostolate as a Public Association of the Faithful. The Apostolate has been placed under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of all America and Star of both the first and the new evangelizations.
Shortly before Father Hardon died on December 30, 2000, he asked Cardinal Burke to assume leadership of the Apostolate. Cardinal Burke accepted and remains today the Episcopal Moderator and International Director of the Marian Catechist Apostolate.