Hewit, Augustine Francis

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Associate founder of the paulists, editor, educator;b. Fairfield, Conn., Nov. 27, 1820; d. New York City, July 3, 1897. He was the son of Nathaniel Hewit, a Congregationalist minister, and Rebecca (Hillhouse) Hewit, daughter of U.S. Senator James Hillhouse. After attending Phillips Academy, Andover, and Amherst College, Massachusetts, he entered the Congregationalist seminary at East Windsor, Conn. In March 1843, influenced greatly by the writings of the Oxford theologians, he joined the Episcopal Church and went to study for the ministry under Bp. William Whittingham in Baltimore, Md. He was ordained a deacon in September 1843.

In April 1846, Hewit became a Catholic; he was ordained March 25, 1847, by Bp. Ignatius Reynolds of Charleston, S.C., and taught in the diocesan seminary there. In 1850 Hewit made his profession as a Redemptorist, but he was dispensed from his vows in 1858 in order to found the Paulists, a new society in which he played a part second only to Isaac hecker. Hewit wrote the first constitutions of the society, trained the candidates, and ruled the society during Hecker's absence for reasons of health. When Hecker founded the Catholic World in 1865, Hewit became its principal staff writer, and in 1866, its managing editor. His contribution to U.S. theology and letters led the Holy See to award him a doctorate about 1875.

Hewit was elected second superior general of the Paulists on Jan. 2, 1889. He supported the American hierarchy's effort to open the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and on its grounds started a Paulist house of studies, later St. Paul's College, the first religious house affiliated with the University. He also directed the establishment of the Paulists at San Francisco, Calif. (1894), the inauguration of missions to non-Catholics under Walter elliott (1893), the founding of the Catholic Missionary Union (1896), and the creation of the Columbus Press (1891), which later became the Paulist Press.

Bibliography: a. f. hewit, Memoir of the Life of the Rev. Francis A. Baker (7th ed. New York 1889). j. p. flynn, The Early Years of Augustine F. Hewit, CSP (Washington 1945). j. mcsorley, Father Hecker and His Friends (2d ed. St. Louis 1953)

[j. p. flynn]