Anglican Notables – James Otis Sargent Huntington, O.H.C. (Religious) – 25 November

[This is a series of biographical sketches of Anglican men and women whose lives have been exemplary in virtue and/or have made significant contributions to Anglicanism’s expression of the Gospel.  Written from the perspective of full communion with the See of St. Peter, including such papal statements as St. John Paul II’s encyclical on ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint, this series will occasionally acknowledge differences between Anglicans and Catholics where they exist and will do so in a spirit of charity and respect.  However, the intent is to focus less on differences than on opportunities for mutual enrichment between the Anglican and Catholic traditions and on shared spiritual treasures that already unite us.]

James Otis Sargent Huntington, O.H.C. (Religious)

Born 23 July 1854 (Roxbury, Massachusetts) – Died 28 June 1935

Episcopal Priest; Founder of the Order of the Holy Cross

[This post’s featured image is a photo of Huntington taken in the 1920s]

Father Huntington, founder of the first religious order to be created within the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, was the scion of an old New England family but not one that had been Anglican/Episcopalian.  Huntington was born into a Unitarian family in Roxbury, Massachusetts.  But his father, a Unitarian minister, converted to the Episcopal Church when James was a child and was eventually consecrated as the first bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York.  (This is a pattern similar to the biography of another important founder in American Anglicanism, Samuel Seabury, the first Episcopal bishop in the United States.  Seabury’s father had been a Congregationalist minister in Groton, Connecticut before converting to, and being ordained as a priest in, the Church of England.)

After completing studies at Harvard and then at St. Andrew’s Divinity School in Syracuse, Huntington was ordained an Episcopal priest by his father on 30 May 1880.

[Huntington ca. 1875]

After completing studies at Harvard and then at St. Andrew’s Divinity School in Syracuse, Huntington was ordained an Episcopal priest by his father on 30 May 1880.

Soon after his ordination, Huntington went on a retreat at St. Clement’s Church, Philadelphia, one of the major centers for the Catholic Revival in the Episcopal Church.  It was there that Huntington perceived a vocation to the religious life.  Huntington considered the Society of St. John the Evangelist, a religious institute that had been founded in England and that had established a foundation in Boston, ten years earlier.  But Huntington decided to found an American expression of the religious life within Anglicanism.  He founded the Order of the Holy Cross with two companions, and their ministry began by working with the poor in New York City’s Lower East Side.

His ministry included pressing for reforms for the urban poor.  He also arranged groups of men who escorted young women workers home safely.

Eventually the order moved to rural Maryland in the 1890s and then to West Park, New York, on the banks of the Hudson, in 1902.  According to the order’s website, Huntington’s work for the poor was always sustained by prayer and contemplation.  As has been the case with many religious orders in Anglicanism, the OHC shifted from apostolates of parish ministry and ministry to the poor to the monastic apostolate, which is prayer.  But the OHC did not formally adopt the Rule of St. Benedict as its own rule until 1984.

Father Huntington’s dying words were “I will always intercede.”

Brother John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B.

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