As a priest called to found the Institute on Religious Life, no one could have set a better example of loving service to religious, utter faithfulness to the Magisterium, and great personal sanctity than Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J. His contributions to the Church came at great personal sacrifice, but their fruits lie in his steadfast preservation of orthodox Catholic teaching and its profound benefit to the many he influenced.
With a life spanning from 1914 to 2000, Fr. Hardon’s upbringing, education, formation, and apostolate all took place within the most trying century ever seen by Catholic Christianity. Great wars, the onslaught of heretical theology, and the incredible challenge of properly responding to the Second Vatican Council all provided their difficulties to the “agent of orthodoxy.” Yet amidst it all, Fr. Hardon led a distinguished teaching career, authored dozens of books, and served in an advisory and formative role for many religious orders, all while remaining faithful to prayer and attentive to all those in need around him.
His service to religious orders included (at the request of Pope John Paul II) writing the catechetical training program Mother Teresa used to form her Missionaries of Charity into catechists. The program was later used by the Marian Catechetical Apostolate, which Fr. Hardon also founded.
From the beginning to the end of his life, Fr. Hardon expressed zeal to be a martyr for the Church, and indeed, he lived out a martyrdom of personal suffering and self-sacrifice. His witness provides an incredible model for the Institute on Religious Life as we seek to ever lift up those who live out the beautiful call to the religious life, and we hope for all others as well. Today, on this anniversary of both Fr. Hardon’s birth and his ordination, say a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of this great apostle of the Church.