Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Priest and second Superior General of the Institute of St. Paul the Apostle ; b. at Fairfield, Conn., U.S.A. 27 November, 1820; d. in New York, 3 July, 1897. His father was Rev. Nathaniel Hewit, D.D., a prominent Congregationalist minister ; and his mother, Rebecca Hillhouse Hewit, was a daughter of Hon. James Hillhouse, United States Senator from Connecticut. He was educated at the Fairfield public school, Phillips (Andover) Academy, and Amherst College, from which he was graduated in 1839. Although strictly educated in the religious sect of his parents, his aversion to its peculiar Calvinistic tenets prevented him from joining their Church until after his graduation from college, when, as he declares, he first learned that "a baptized person may claim the privilege of a Christian, if he is willing to acknowledge and ratify the covenant of which the sacrament is the sign and seal ". Shortly after his conversion he began the study of theology at the Congregationalist seminary at East Windsor, Conn. Scarcely had he finished its prescribed course and been licensed to preach when he became convinced that episcopacy is of Divine origin and he entered the Episcopal Church. The Oxford Movement in that Church had already extended to America, and Hewit became one of its most ardent followers. He received the Anglican order of deacon in 1844, but with the expressed condition that he might interpret the Thirty-nine Articles in the sense of "Tract 90". The conversion of Newman in 1845 gradually unsettled his belief in the validity of the claims of Anglicanism, and he made his submission to the Catholic Church, 25 March, 1846. He then studied Catholic theology privately under the direction of Dr. Patrick N. Lynch, afterwards Bishop of Charleston, S.C., and Dr. James A. Corcoran, subsequently professor at Overbrook Seminary, Philadelphia. He was ordained priest on the first anniversary of his profession of faith by Right Rev. Ignatius A. Reynolds, D.D., Bishop of Charleston. He then became a teacher in a collegiate institute founded by Bishop England at Charleston, and assisted Bishop Reynolds in the compilation of Bishop England's works for publication. This occupation called him to Baltimore and Philadelphia, where he resided with Bishop Francis P. Kenrick and became acquainted with the Venerable John Nepomucen Neumann, C.SS.R. [Editor's note: St. John N. Neumann was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1977]. Here he was attracted to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer , which he entered in 1849. He made his religious profession 28 Nov., 1850. As a Redemptorist he laboured principally on missions with Fathers Isaac T. Hecker, Clarence A. Walworth, Francis A. Baker, and George Deshon, until with them he was dispensed from his religious vows by a decree of the Roman Congregation of Bishops and Regulars, 6 March, 1858. Under the leadership of Father Hecker all of these priests immediately formed the Institute of St. Paul the Apostle in New York, with a rule enjoining poverty and obedience with the obligations of the vows. Father Hewit, on account of his rare judgment, learning, and piety, was chosen to draft the first constitution and laws of this new institute, which aims to satisfy the aspirations of clerics who desire to lead an apostolic and religious life in community without assuming the canonical responsibilities of the religious state, strictly so called. As a Paulist, Father Hewit laboured assiduously in the parochial and missionary fields and in the establishment and management of "The Catholic World" magazine. He was a deep student of philosophy, theology, patristic literature, church history, and Scripture, and taught all of these branches to the first novices of the institute. He was also a prolific writer and for twenty years was one of the foremost Catholic apologists in the United States. In this field he was chiefly noted for his loyalties to the magisterium of the Church and his agreement with the opinions of the most approved theologians. He wrote nothing that could be styled original; he simply aimed to explain and popularize the teaching of the doctors and saints of Holy Church. Most of his articles were published in "The Catholic World" and "The American Catholic Quarterly Review", and a few of them have reappeared in a volume entitled "Problems of the Age with Studies in St. Augustine on Kindred Topics". His most popular book was "The Life of Rev. Francis A. Baker", one of his companions, who died in 1865. "The King's Highway", which he wrote in 1874, is an excellent work to place in the hands of Protestants who are seeking truth from Scripture. Upon the death of Father Hecker (1888), Father Hewit was almost unanimously chosen superior general of the institute and held this office until his death. One of his first acts as superior was to pledge the Paulist community to support the Catholic University at Washington, D.C. St. Thomas College for the education of candidates of the institute was accordingly opened in one of the university buildings in 1889. Under his direction, Rev. Walter Elliott, C.S.P., gave the first regular missions to non-Catholics in the United States and a new foundation of the institute was established in San Francisco, Cal.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 6:1-9
1 Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord -- that is what ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:10-11, 12-13, 13-14
10 All your creatures shall thank you, Yahweh, and your faithful shall ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:22-30
22 Through towns and villages he went teaching, making his way to ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 26th, 2016 Image

St. Bean
October 26: On December 16, there is named in the Roman ... Read More