In the early 1900’s well before the development of the lay apostolate as it came to be called, Fr. Judge was a pioneer who asked volunteers in Alabama not to become priests or Sisters, but to remain lay men and women who could go into the towns, homes, schools, and workplaces to help alleviate suffering among the materially poor and spiritually abandoned.Father Thomas Augustine Judge was a modern American apostle. Born August 23, 1868 in Boston, he was ordained a Vincentian priest in 1899. Soon after, he was sent to work in Alabama among the immigrant poor. Seeing the overwhelming task before him, and believing that everyone has a missionary role to perform, he asked for lay volunteers from the North to come and help him in his work.
The challenge he presented to these volunteers was not to become priests or Sisters, but to remain lay men and women who could go into the towns, homes, schools, and workplaces to help alleviate suffering among the materially poor and spiritually abandoned.
The lay apostolate soon created an organization of highly spiritualized men and women called the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate. This group exists today throughout the USA, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Costa Rica. From these ranks came two new missionary religious congregations, the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity (women) and the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity (men).
Father Judge was a tireless, buoyant missionary, leading with ardor, joy and brilliant faith. He lived a humble life, was intoxicated with God and His gifts, had unshakable confidence in the capacity of ordinary man and woman to love God a great deal. His desire was to lead them to that happiness, and to its natural consequence: a zeal to bring their neighbor closer to God. Father Judge died on November 23, 1933.
For more information, pictures and links visit the Vincentian Encyclopedia article Thomas Judge