Click here to watch a 6-minute video on St. Clement Hofbauer, on YouTube.
Redemptorists in Esker, Redemptorists worldwide, together with Redemptoristines and all our Redemptorist Co-Workers, celebrate this weekend of March 15th, 2020, the Feast of St. Clement Maria Hofbauer, who died in Vienna as the noon-bell rang for the Angelus, on March 15th, 1820. Clement is known as the ‘Second Founder’ of the Redemptorists, for it was he who brought the Redemptorists out of Italy and into Northern Europe.
John Hofbauer was born on St. Stephen’s Day in 1751, in what is now the Czech Republic. His father was Czech, his mother was German.
John’s father died when young John was only seven. His mother pointed to the crucifix and said to John, ‘From now on, HE is your Father’, pointing to Jesus.
John was about twenty when he became a hermit. Around that time, he took the name ‘Clement’, and that is how he is known to us today.
At about 33, he and a friend joined the Redemptorists in Rome. Less than a year later, they set out over the alps, hoping to found communities of Redemptorist Missionaries in Northern Europe. He worked for over twenty years in Warsaw, with an ever-increasing community of Redemptorist colleagues. Napoleon ordered that community to be suppressed and the monks scattered. At age 57, Clement went back to Vienna. Over the next twelve years, he ministered to rich and poor alike, from his tiny room on Johannes Gasse. Artists, musicians, writers, politicians, University students all flocked to this humble priest’s house. He put new heart into all of them.
Clement Hofbauer died on March 15th, 1820, two hundred years ago. His dream of setting up Redemptorist communities and forming young Redemptorists was only realised after his death, when the Emperor gave his approval. A great flourishing of Redemptorist Missionaries, called ‘to follow Christ by preaching the Gospel to the poor’, took place right after his death. We thank God for this courageous, visionary, contemplative missionary.
St. Clement, pray for us, in our world of today. Teach us ‘to preach the Gospel anew’, in every generation, in every way, with ever-increasing freshness, joy, and love.
We invite you to go to YouTube, and key in “St. Clement Hofbauer and Séamus Devitt”, for a six minute video about this saint and friend.
(For good quality copies of these pictures of St. Clement Hofbauer, contact email@example.com)
Mauls on a Rainy Day
How 3 Mauls on a Rainy Day helped Clement Hofbauer, Redemptorist Saint!
This rainy day changed the course of one young man’s life. John Clement Hofbauer, now aged 30, had given up on his dream of becoming a priest. He simply could not afford it. Because of the poverty of his family - his father had died when John was only 7 - he had to go to work in his middle teens. Over the next fifteen years, young Hofbauer was in turn baker, hermit, student, hermit and back to baker.
Now aged thirty, he was back in a bakery in Vienna. His childhood dream of becoming a priest was now out of the question. Then, one morning he was coming out of St. Stefan’s Cathedral (‘Stefandom’) after serving Mass. It was raining heavily. As he stood at the door, he noticed three women, the Maul sisters, standing close-by. He offered to find them a carriage. When the carriage arrived, they invited him to come with them, as his home was in the same direction. They thought he was a seminarian. He explained that he couldn’t afford to go to University. They said they would look after all his costs. Clement accepted their offer, and began his University studies at age 31. And two years later, he and a friend were knocking at the door of the Redemptorist community at St. Giuliano in Rome. And that’s how Clement Hofbauer began his Redemptorist journey and journeys. He was about 34 when he began, and was 34 years a Redemptorist, until his death as the noon angelus bell rang out on March 20th, 1820. We give thanks for this courageous visionary man who is known as the ‘Second Founder’ of the Redemptorists. He joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (‘Redemptorists’ for short), because their goal was and is ‘to follow Christ in preaching the Gospel to the poor’.
The very first Redemptorist to come to preach a Mission in Ireland in 1851 was a Fr. Frederick deHeld. Frederick had been a university student in Clement’s Circle in Vienna and had carried the coffin of his friend, this simple but wonderful priest, Fr. Hofbauer.
See what can happen from Mauls on a Rainy Day! The works of God are wonderful. ‘It’s never too late to start livin’ !’
St. Clement Hofbauer’s feast is on March 15th. He died two hundred years ago, this year, in Vienna.
LETTER FROM THE VATICAN REGARDING THIS CELEBRATION OF ST. CLEMENT HOFBAUER: Sent to Fr. Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R., Superior General.
Vatican, March 7, 2020
Reverend Father Michael Brehl, C.Ss.R., Superior General, Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, Via Merulana, 31, 00185 Roma
In your courteous letter of February 2, you informed the Holy Father about the Bicentenary of the death of St. Clement Hofbauer, C.Ss.R. You also asked that he present once again this unique and multifaceted man to the Christians of our time.
His Holiness, welcoming this devout gesture, shares the joy of your Congregation and hopes that the celebrations in question will constitute a precious opportunity to make increasingly known and welcome the witness of this Saintly Confrere. Faithful to the apostolic spirit of the Founder, St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, St. Clement made every effort to proclaim the Gospel in the peripheries of his time and to bring the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer beyond the Alps, laying the foundations for its subsequent growth throughout the world.
His life’s journey was always guided by a deep faith, a faith that he learned on his mother’s knee, in his native Tasswitz, in Moravia. Despite numerous and painful events, and in different social and political contexts, this faith led him to abandon himself with full confidence into the arms of the Heavenly Father and not to lose hope in realizing his dream of being a priest despite numerous obstacles. Welcomed into the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, he took this unexpected opportunity as a particular grace and a further call to serve the cause of the Gospel and to witness to the precious treasure of faith, initially in Poland, because of the laws in force at that time in his homeland, and then, later, in Vienna.
This faith, deeply rooted in his very being, and enriched by the teachings of the Founder, led him to consider the unbelief and distance from God of many of his contemporaries as dangerous, almost unnatural. As a result, he continuously sought to find new ways of bringing the joy of the Gospel to all, promoting ever richer experiences of humanity and Christian life.
Clement’s passion for the work of God was reflected in his passion for his brothers and sisters and led him to put himself at the service of the poor in the city of Warsaw. Through material aid, he offered to abandoned orphans, to foundlings, to girls and young people of every nation and religion present in the city, the possibility of a more dignified life, freed from illiteracy and moral dangers. He trusted always in divine Providence and in the help of generous people, whom he did not neglect to ask for alms and collaboration for love of these brothers and sisters.
Transferred to Vienna in his later years, his missionary concern extended to other ‘peripheries’: to the university world and to that of culture. He attracted many illustrious scientists and artists, inviting them not only to approach the Church, but also to an intense and conscious spiritual life. He sought to satisfy their inner poverty, in different but not dissimilar ways from those that led the Founder to become passionate about the condition of the poor and uneducated peasants of Southern Italy. He gave particular attention to the world of youth and especially to the students, who saw him as a welcoming friend and a priest whose faith and goodness were contagious to those who approached him. Thanks to this commitment, men and women, young and old, noble and bourgeois, scholars and artists, state officials and prelates, students and professors trusted his leadership and spread his spirituality, exercising their influence in all areas of society.
His faith led him to hope against all hope in the firm conviction that “what seems impossible to human beings is always possible to God”. St. Clement Hofbauer urges contemporary Christian communities to leave behind worldly security and outdated pastoral schemes and free themselves from fears and laziness so that they can welcome the cry of the wounded men and women which rises from our cities today, and thus bring the joy of the Gospel everywhere.
While offering fervent wishes for the success of the Bicentennial Celebrations, the Holy Father invokes the heavenly protection of this Holy Confrere and of Saint Alphonsus Maria de Liguori, and heartily imparts to you, to the entire Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and to all who will participate in these celebrations his Apostolic Blessing, a pledge of every grace and renewed missionary commitment.
I unite my personal best wishes, and confirm my own feeling of religious esteem for Your Reverend Paternity,
Sincerely, Pietro Card. Parolin, Secretary of State
For more information about our way of life, or to talk directly about whether you might be called to be a Redemptorist Missionary:
Please contact Fr. Derek Ryan C.Ss.R. firstname.lastname@example.org