James Otis Sargent Huntington, Priest and Monk, 1935

Welcome to the Holy Women, Holy Men blog! We invite you to read about this commemoration, use the collect and lessons in prayer, whether individually or in corporate worship, and then tell us what you think. For more information about this project, click here.

About the Commemoration

In the Rule for the Order of the Holy Cross, James Huntington wrote: “Holiness is the brightness of divine love, and love is never idle; it must accomplish great things.” Commitment to active ministry rooted in the spiritual life was the guiding principle for the founder of the first permanent Episcopal monastic community for men in the United States. James Otis Sargent Huntington was born in Boston in 1854. After graduation from Harvard, he studied theology at St. Andrew’s Divinity School in Syracuse, New York, and was ordained deacon and priest by his father, the first Bishop of Central New York. In 1880 and 1881 he ministered in a working-class congregation at Calvary Mission, Syracuse.

While attending a retreat at St. Clement’s Church, Philadelphia, Huntington received a call to the religious life. He considered joining the Society of St. John the Evangelist, which had by that time established a province in the United States, but he resolved to found an indigenous American community.

Huntington and two other priests began their common life at Holy Cross Mission on New York’s Lower East Side, ministering with the Sisters of St. John Baptist among poor immigrants. The taxing daily regimen of Eucharist, prayer, and long hours of pastoral work soon forced one priest to leave for reason of health. The other dropped out for lack of a vocation. Huntington went on alone; and on November 25, 1884, his life vow was received by Bishop Potter of New York.

As Huntington continued his work among the immigrants, with emphasis on helping young people, he became increasingly committed to the social witness of the Church. His early involvements in the singletax movement and the labor union movement were instrumental in the eventual commitment of the Episcopal Church to social ministries. The Order attracted vocations, and as it grew in the ensuing years the community moved, first to Maryland, and, in 1902, to West Park, New York, where it established the monastery which is its mother house. Huntington served as Superior on several occasions, continuing his energetic round of preaching, teaching and spiritual counsel until his death on June 28, 1935.


i O loving God, by thy grace thy servant James Huntington gathered a community dedicated to love and discipline and devotion to the holy Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ: Send thy blessing upon all who proclaim Christ crucified, and move the hearts of many to look unto him and be saved; who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

ii O loving God, by your grace your servant James Huntington gathered a community dedicated to love and discipline and devotion to the holy Cross of our Savior Jesus Christ: Send your blessing on all who proclaim Christ crucified, and move the hearts of many to look upon him and be saved; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 119:161–168


Nehemiah 5:1–12

Galatians 6:14–18

John 6:34–38

Preface of a Saint (2)

6 thoughts on “James Otis Sargent Huntington, Priest and Monk, 1935

  1. The biographical sketch would be strengthened by a few concrete details of this remarkable man’s life. He stood in the back of horse-drawn wagons to speak to crowds of New Yorkers on behalf of the 8-hour day. He arranged for men to escort young women home from factories so they wouldn’t be raped after working a 12-hour shift. His memorable dying words: “I will always intercede.”

  2. You correctly speak of his social outreach and work to get the church involved in social action, in addition to his founding te Order of the Holy Cross.
    The fact that he was labor’s choice for a mediator in the Pullman strike gives a good idea of his ministry tio rthinthe social outread sector. The continued existence of OHC and its large number of Associates of both sexes is a testimony to his dream of founding an American order
    I was always impressed be the acount of his work at Holy Cross Church in NYC. E.g. Many of the teen aged girls in the parish worked in department stores which were open till midnight on Saturdays, and the girls were afraid to walk home. He organized a gorup of young men to walk the girls home.

  3. Why do we commemorate Father Huntington on the day of his life profession to a monastic vocation? Perhaps this is when the Order of the Holy Cross remembers their founder? But why does HWHM not commemorate his birthday, or the date of his death? Would not that be more consistent with other commemorations in HWHM?

    New Hebrew reading: This reading seems to fit nicely with Father Huntington’s ministry and vocation.

    Bio: Paragraph 5. “ … the eventual commitment of the Episcopal Church to social ministries.” These days our church name is capitalized “The Episcopal Church”.

  4. I like this commemoration very well. It is inspiring, uplifting, and informative. The readings, especially the OT and epistle, seem most appropriate. The collect is good, although “Send your blessing upon” could be simply “Bless.” The one thing that throws me is mention that OHC is the first order for men, but he first considered joining SSJE which was already established here. The point is probably that SSJE wasn’t of indigenous founding in North America, but it sounds odd as I read it. Thank you to those who prepared this commemoration.

  5. One understands why November 25 was chosen to memorialize Huntington: this is the anniversary of his taking vows as a religious, and Irenaeus’ life is celebrated on the day of Huntington’s death. However, we could now celebrate Huntington on the earlier date.

  6. Looking at the census in 1870, he attended school in St. Johns, Manlius, Onondaga, New York
    Headmaster: Richardson St. John’s School (boys listed under head, wife and another head) Post office Fayetteville.

    1870 Census for his family: Syracuse Ward 4, Onondaga, New York (all born in Massachussetts)
    Tweed (census has Fareed transcription but it looks like Tweed) Huntington 51 BISHOP
    Hannah Huntington 45
    Effie Huntington 21
    James Huntington 16 (at school)
    Ruth Huntington 11
    Mary Huntington 9
    Harriett Boat 35
    Norah Kelly 33
    Thomas Pettison 36
    Sophia Pettison 27

    Please, since his father was the first Bishop of NY as stated in article, send me his name so I can amend the census transcription correctly! Thank you.

    I was curious about this man as he carries two of my old family names. THank you.

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