The apostolate of the pen—and the catching of the fish—were among the orders of the day for Liguori’s pioneers of seven decades past.
“Fr. Donald Miller had long cherished the unique notion of a Redemptorist community engaged nearly entirely in the apostolate of the pen. And in the fall of 1947, he and eight other stouthearted priests were allowed the practical pursuit of this notion in some frame houses and several shacks in the foothills of the Ozarks. It was they who endured the drudgery and discouragement from which has emerged the supple and encouraging success of Liguori Publications….”
Thomas Cosgrove, CSsR,
Redemptorist Remembrance, 1982
In that first winter of 1947, the Redemptorists raised chickens and tried to grow their own produce, but editorial duties and speaking engagements consumed most of their time. Nevertheless, they provided recreation for themselves by damming a brook on the property to create a small lake with a dock. At 5 o’clock on most afternoons, the priests and brothers, scurried to the lake for swimming, canoeing, and fishing. Fr. Miller said: “If we have any luck, we provide our own fish for Friday.”
In 1953, Miller described the regular order of the day in those pioneer years:
6 am Rising bell sounds
6:30 to 7 Morning meditation
7:00 to 8 Mass
9 to 5 Work at Liguori Publications with thirty or so lay employees
Redemptorists divided their time between the written and spoken word, with some traveling for ministry. Because of the varied demands of their work, only about half were on duty at the publishing house at any given time.
6 pm Evening meditation
9 Night prayer
Now, seventy years later, the regular order of the day for most Redemptorists at Liguori hasn’t changed dramatically. Priests, brothers, and employees engaged in the apostolate of the pen—a few dozen in all—still spend much of the workday in one building at Liguori Publications. The lake, however, was drained long ago. Fish swim elsewhere.