“Father Judge (was convinced) that the priest by himself was insufficient to meet the pastoral needs of the day. ”
A Brief History of the Missionary Cenacle Family

Father Thomas Augustine Judge, C.M., was ordained a priest at the dawn of the twentieth century when the Church in the United States faced the task of absorbing thousands of immigrants from the Catholic countries of eastern and southern Europe. During the early years of his priesthood, the Church experienced the revival of Nativism, active proselytizing of Catholic immigrants, and the erosion of Catholic faith among the uninstructed, the indifferent, and those Americanized Catholics who reacted to the apparent foreignness and paternalism of the Church.

A ministry experience of ten years, and the daily struggle with these issues as they touched the lives of the people he served, convinced He realized that the latent, but undirected, power for good present in the laity must be tapped. Therefore, at a time when the lay apostolate was a considerable innovation, Father Judge preached apostolic involvement to the general body of the laity.

On April 11, 1909, at a meeting in Brooklyn, New York, six women responded to his appeal for lay apostles who would share in the mission and ministry of the Church. In the years immediately following, Father Judge’s influence inspired women and men from many walks of life to become members of this apostolic band, later known and accepted in the Church as the Cenacle Lay Apostolate.


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