The five members of this band were all English-speaking converts to the faith. The leader was Clarence Walworth, considered to be one of the most eloquent preachers of the 19th century. Along with him where George Deshon, Isaac Hecker, Augustine Hewitt, and towards the very end, Francis Baker.
The whole phenomenon of the mission is rather fascinating -- social gathering, entertainment, an altar call, spiritual medicine and enthusiasm, all rolled into one. The Redeptorists liked to give a 14 day mission, 7 at the very minimum, running Sunday to Sunday, or Friday to the following Sunday, or Sunday to the following Wednesday.
There would be morning instruction and evening talks and sermons, with the goal being repentance, and, starting on Day 4 (before which a sermon on heaven and hell and judgment would be preached), confessions, leading at the end of the mission, to a renewal of baptismal vows and to the reception of Holy Communion by all those who participated. The central goal was to revitalize and animate the flagging faith of ordinary Catholics.
I spent a few hours in the archives yesterday going through the papers of Fr. Walworth. I transcribed a few sermons, one from his Albany days on the Excellence of the Priesthood (he left the Paulists after they were founded, and became a Diocesan priest. He returned two years later, and then left again. It's a rather crazy story.), and a couple from his mission diary from the early 1850s.
Here's a schema, or outline of what the topics in a typical mission would be (transcribed from the cover of his mission diary, pictured above):
- Opening. The Word of God
- Salvation – something to be won, not had by nature(adv. Pelg. – out of Church – not of all good people)
- Mortal Sin Explained
- Necessity of Penance and particularly Satisfaction
- Death; adv. Spiritualists and Prots.
- Judgment adv. Doctrine of faith without works.
- Hell, Existence & Eternity
- Mercy of God, adv. Predestination
- Sacramental Grace [S. Catherine of Siena. Lives of early Martyrs] adv. Prots & Negligient Catholics.
- B.V. Mary
- Unity of the Church. Moral; charity
- Apostolicity; Moral; Faith
- Sanctity of the Church = Sanctity of Life
- Catholicity: charity of zeal
- Means of perseverance.