Thursday 25 November – The Feast of James Otis Sargent Huntington

This week saw our celebration for the second time at Volmoed of our Order’s Founder’s Day. We were pleased to host the other Volmoed residents and staff to a festive lunch following the midday Eucharist.

Fr. James Otis Sargent Huntington was the first member of the Order of the Holy Cross to make his life profession, doing so on 25 November 1884 in New York, NY, USA. James Huntington was a passionate advocate of social justice, seeing prayer and action as inextricably intertwined. He has been described as forward-reaching, looking for enriching change and development, interested in the future.

We ask for your prayers for us and for our brothers throughout this Order that was established by the confident endurance of that remarkable man, that we may continue faithful to the spirit of our Founder.

James Otis Sargent Huntington was born in Boston on 23 July 1854. After graduation from Harvard, he studied theology, and was ordained deacon and priest by his father, the first Bishop of Central New York. He then ministered in a working-class congregation in New York.

While attending a retreat, he perceived a call to the religious life and resolved to found a community himself, which would be the first permanent Episcopal monastic community for men in the United States. He and two other priests began their common life at Holy Cross Mission on New York’s Lower East Side, ministering with the Sisters of St. John Baptist among immigrants. The other two priests withdrew and Fr. Huntington went on alone. On 25 November 1884, his life vow was received by Bishop Potter of New York.

As he continued his work among the immigrants, with emphasis on helping young people, he became increasingly committed to the social witness of the Church. He spoke publicly in support of the labour movement, the cause of unmarried mothers, prisoners, those with developmental difficulties, and many other neglected groups.

The Order gradually attracted vocations, growing in the ensuing years and relocating to West Park, New York, in 1902. Fr. Huntington served as Superior for several periods, and continued his preaching, teaching and spiritual counselling until his death on 28 June 1935. He wrote a new Rule for the Order of the Holy Cross in 1901, one which breathes his spirit of careful balance.

I commend to your reading or listening the sermon which our Br. Randy Greve preached for the anniversary, at our Holy Cross Monastery in West Park, NY:

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