Mercy, Fathers of

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MERCY, FATHERS OF

This society, officially known as the Congregation of the Priests of Mercy (CPM, Official Catholic Directory #0820), was originally founded in Lyons, France, in 1808, by a zealous priest, Jean Baptist Rauzan. Rauzan brought together a small group of priests to form a missionary band, with the idea of counteracting the disastrous effects of the French Revolution on the faith of the people. For years, the little band of missionaries traveled up and down the country, preaching and administering the Sacraments. Rauzan, seeing the work that was accomplished, formed his priests into a community known as the Missionaries of France. In 1834 the community was approved by Pope Gregory XVI and became known as the Fathers of Mercy. The society came to the United States in 1839 at the request of Bp. John Hughes of New York. The Fathers of Mercy founded four parishes, two in New York and two in Brooklyn. In 1956 the society was reorganized by the Holy See. The four parishes in the United States were turned over to diocesan authorities, and the community took on a strictly mission character. As a result of the reorganization, the society assumed the status of a congregation, since the fathers, already under the vows of obedience and chastity, also took the vow of poverty. The U.S. headquarters is in South Union, KY.

[t. p. doyle/eds.]