Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity

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(ST, Official Catholic Directory #0840); a religious congregation of men, founded in the U.S. by Thomas Augustine judge, a Vincentian priest from Boston, Mass. In 1909, after some years of mission and parochial work, Judge founded the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate, one of the earliest lay apostle movements in the U.S. It was from this organization that the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity and a companion community of sisters, missionary servants of the most blessed trinity, developed.

In 1915 when Judge was appointed superior of the Vincentian missions in eastern Alabama, he urged his lay apostles in the North to come south and assist the few priests there. A plantation on the Chattahoochee River in Russell County was opened as Holy Trinity training center for lay associates, as the members of the missionary Cenacle Apostolate were called. By 1917 these lay apostles had opened an academy and infirmary and were conducting a Sunday school. In addition, Holy Trinity center served as a nucleus of Catholic life and exerted an influence on the whole area.

By 1921 a group of men living a common life were recognized as a religious community by Bp. E. P. Allen of Mobile. A boys' school, which had been part of the apostolate since Holy Trinity was acquired, became explicitly a preparatory seminary in 1923. Thereafter, only those boys intending to study for the priesthood as Trinity missionaries were accepted in this school. In 1926 a house of studies was established in Washington, D.C., where the brothers would complete their studies for the priesthood at The Catholic University of America. This spontaneous development met with Judge's approval, and in 1929 the Holy See recognized the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity as a clerical, religious congregation of diocesan rank. A canonical novitiate was established in 1931. But it was only after 1940 that sizable classes of priests began to be ordained and the community expanded beyond its formative stage. In 1958 the Holy See bestowed upon the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity its decree of praise, raising the community to a pontifical congregation.

Trinity missionaries are especially trained to promote in their work the social encyclicals of the popes. The community accepts the care of parishes, especially where there is a great need for priests. Trinity missionaries work as chaplains, conduct social outreach centers and summer camp programs, and engage in catechetics, youth ministries, retreats, counseling and spiritual direction. The generalate is in Arlington, Va.

Bibliography: j. v. benson, The Judgments of Father Judge (New York 1934).

[h. marshall/eds.]

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Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity

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