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The Redemptorists

By Special to The Pilot
Posted: 1/15/2016

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St. Alphonsus Liguori Courtesy photo

Who We Are

The Redemptorists are a religious congregation founded in 1732 by St. Alphonsus Liguori. Their purpose is "to follow the example of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, by preaching the word of God to the poor, as he declared of himself: 'He sent me to preach the Good News to the poor.'" It does so by responding with missionary thrust to the pressing pastoral needs of the most abandoned, especially the poor, and by devoting itself entirely to evangelization. We began this work by going among the poor and forgotten shepherds living in the hill country surrounding Naples in southern Italy.

At first there were just a handful of men working with Alphonsus Liguori. In 1832, when the Congregation was one hundred years old, six Redemptorists (three priests and three Brothers) journeyed to America. At the present time there are over five thousand Redemptorists working with people in nearly every part of the world.


Those four letters, "C.Ss.R." behind the name of a Redemptorist stand for Congregatio Sanctissimi Redemptoris. That is the official Latin title given to our congregation. It can be translated into English as "Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer." Members of the Congregation are more commonly called "Redemptorists." It is a fitting name since, in a very special way, we continue the work of Christ's redemption. Like the first apostles, our task is to bring the message of salvation to all people.

The Redemptorist Missionary

When a man becomes a Redemptorist, he kneels at the altar and publicly professes to live a life guided by the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. He gives up a right to ownership and agrees to hold all goods in common. He forgoes the right to marry and to have children. He surrenders his will to his superiors and promises to do the work to which he is assigned.

Redemptorist life is lived in a community. This group of men is joined by their life of prayer and common apostolic activity. Together they share the good times and the bad.

Since Redemptorists are called to continue the presence of Christ and his mission of redemption in the world, they choose the person of Christ as the center of their life, and strive day by day to enter ever more intimately into personal union with him. The stronger their union with Christ, the stronger will become their union with each other.

Redemptorists are always ready to give witness to the hope that is in them. They work toward this goal either as priests or as brothers.

The Redemptorist Brother

The Redemptorist Brother is called to do many things. He takes vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. He also lives the same common life in a community setting with the priests of the congregation. The Redemptorist Brother is engaged in apostolic activities: preaching the gospel, explaining the faith, administering programs, counseling, spiritual direction, giving retreats, and music ministry. Still others use their special skills in parishes and in large communities by working as sacristans, plant maintenance, coordinating the parish office, and so forth. To each person he encounters, the Redemptorist Brother tries to be the image of Christ.

The Redemptorist Priest

The Redemptorist priest, like the brother, takes vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. He is first a foremost a religious. He is ordained to be another Christ. He is to care for the Lord's flock. In the great action of the Mass, the priest renews the sacrifice of Calvary and makes Christ present here on earth. Like the apostles, the priest is to preach the gospel, explain the faith, administer the sacraments, and give his whole life to bring people to salvation. The priest is to be all things to all people and bring Christ to all.

The Work of Redemptorists

Both Priests and Brothers minister in:

Extraordinary Preaching (missions)

Parishes (Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the "Mission Church", in Boston's Roxbury section)

Retreat Work

Apostolate of the Pen (Publications and books) Liguori Publications

Ministry to the Hearing Impaired

Ministry to Migrants/Immigrants

Chaplains (in jails and prisons and the military)

Foreign Missions (Brazil, Thailand, Nigeria, The Virgin Islands, and the Dominican Republic).