Isaac Hecker: An American CatholicIsaac Hecker: An American Catholic
David O'Brien
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Isaac Thomas Hecker wasthe prototype nineteenth-century American. He was an idealist and a visionary, a believe in the "rightness" of the American experiement. A utopian at heart, Hecker sampled life in New England's transcendentalist communes, later entering the Catholic Church where he began a new community that was found on the ideals of freedom and personal initiative. He had all the virtues and all the flaws of his eya, being optimistic, passionate, energetic, farsighted, naive. Yet Hecker was also profoundly counter-cultural. He was a mystic in an age of pragmatism. He proclaimed the value of the collective to a generation of Americans who already were falling under the influence of laissez-faire individualism. Within his adopted Catholic community he championed personalism to an unreceptive audience; Rome and its hierarchy were in a defensive posture that favored obedience and conformity. In the end Rome assailed "Americanism" as a threat to its good order.

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Foreword by Martin E. Marty


Part One: An American Road to Rome

1. An American Life
2. Ernest the Seeker
3. Searching for the Church
4. The Land Promised Me in My Youth

Part Two: The Promise of American Catholicism

5. In Another Country
6. American Evangelist
7. Risking Everything
8. Catholic Innocent Abroad
9. All We Had at Heart
10. The Paulists
11. The Future Triumph of the Church
12. Steam Priest

Part Three: The Crisis of Modern Catholocism

13. Vatican I
14. Hecker and Brownson
15. Crisis
16. Making America Catholic
17. Not Yet the Promised Land

Part Four: In Spirit and In Truth

18. Public Catholicism
19. The Indwelling Holy Spirit
20. Alone at the End
21. "Heckerism"