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Life as a Redemptorist

There is no one path followed by Redemptorists. Our work takes on many forms: mission preaching; retreats; parish work, especially in economically deprived communities; youths/young adults; works of justice and peace; ministries to people in special need and in some of the poorest islands of the Caribbean.

We are preachers, teachers, confessors and spiritual directors to old and young alike. We are constantly challenged to take on new apostolic activities on behalf of people and groups who are most neglected by society. We are "practical idealists," striving to put our ideals to work in what is often an unkind world.

We are known as “apostles of conversion” because our goal is to help people make a decision for Christ and to draw them to a continuing and total conversion. As Redemptorists, we believe that our own lives and work must be pathways for Christ's redeeming love, especially for those most vulnerable, the poor and abandoned, whether in spirit, mind, or body.

We believe that as we dedicate our lives to the service of others in need, we are doing something supremely valuable and wonderfully satisfying. The joy and vitality that is ours in knowing Jesus — this is a gift to be shared with others, including people of cultures different from our own. We have received a marvelous vocation, but it demands much from us. We need to be approachable to people of every background. We need to understand their way of thinking, their strengths and frailties. We need to make their hopes and dreams our own.

In addition to sharing a common goal, Redemptorists also live in community. The constant challenges of our vocation could easily overwhelm us if we did not have the spiritual, emotional and physical support of our fellow Redemptorists. Living together in community, we find that we are able to foster the personal growth of each member. In "Gospel friendship," we pray together, work together, eat, laugh and relax together, and struggle with challenges together.

In the early days of the Redemptorist Congregation, when missionary priests and brothers came to this country, they shared a dream:

“As he crossed the vast ocean, he dreamed of mounting any pulpit, stepping down any street, stopping into any hovel just to reach them, to touch them, to save them . . .

He was like many of the other good American priests, but there was something about him, something unique, something special. Was it because he was like the people? Was it because he was one of them, talked like them, used their words, knew their first names? He seemed always to be there. His church and rectory were open from dawn to dusk. Like his people, he, too lived a family life. He prayed and ate and laughed and lived in a home with his Redemptorist family. He waited on tables, washed dishes, did the shopping and sat around at night telling stories...

He looked on his days as days of privilege, wonderful moments of grace and life. He heard the laughter of their weddings, graduations and baptism. He tasted the tears of their sickness and death, their mistakes and sins. He got them out of trouble and into heaven by walking with them as one of them. And they grew old together.”

— Father John McGowan, C.Ss.R.

Profile: Father Gerard Knapp


Growing up in Baltimore in the 1950s, Father Gerard Knapp was fascinated by the Redemptorist priests who served his parish. More »

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For more information, e-mail Father Matthew Allman, C.Ss.R.

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vocation director


Father Matthew Allman, C.Ss.R.
718-833-1900
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