About Us


The Missionary Cenacle Apostolate is a great option for practicing Catholics who seek to live out their faith in a way that reaches out to others. It is a community of laypersons who have been called by God to be missionaries in the providence of their daily life.

This page will provide you with a bit of the history and spiritual themes found within the MCA.


We seek first to glorify the Triune god by spreading everywhere the knowledge and love of Jesus. Our mission is to preserve the faith especially among the poor and abandoned, and among children. We have an ardent zeal for the poor and for those desolate in all things. Charity urges us to action on behalf of justice as an integral part of the missionary apostolate.


The Missionary Cenacle Apostolate (MCA) was founded by Fr. Thomas Augustine Judge.   Fr. Judge pioneered this lay apostolate in the United States and founded additional missionary congregations of Religious: Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity (Sisters); Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity (priests and Brothers); and the Blessed Trinity Missionary Institute …(vowed laity).  Together with the religious congregations founded by Fr. Judge, the MCA  maintains a dynamic and collaborative apostolate collectively known as the Missionary Cenacle Family (MCF).
The first meeting of the MCA was held with five members in the Church of St. John the Baptist, Brooklyn, New York, on April 11, 1909. Father judge outlined for them the good that could be done for souls by a highly spiritualized laity, alert and self-sacrificing in the interests of the Church.

With the permission of the pastors in parishes where he gave missions, Father judge organized similar groups. By 1915 the Cenacle lay apostolate was widespread.

Today the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate is established in dioceses in the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico,  Costa Rica, and Colombia.  It has approximately 1,000 members.


The General Purpose of the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate is to give honor and glory to the Triune God. First, in the sanctification of the Associates by means of the devotions and customs of the Missionary Cenacle; and secondly in an ardent Catholicity that manifests itself in a prudent and zealous interest in your neighbor’s welfare.  The Special Purpose of the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate is the Preservation of the Faith.

The MOTTO of the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate is: BE GOOD! DO GOOD! BE A POWER FOR GOOD!


Membership in the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate is comprised of devout Catholics who desire greater personal sanctification and are willing to take an active part in its apostolate. Candidates must be at least seventeen years of age at the time of admission to membership.  They must prove themselves for at least one year by faithful attendance at meetings, the annual retreat and days of recollection.  They must also participate regularly in the activities of the Apostolate in so far as they are able. For those between thirteen and seventeen there are junior Cenacles. These groups are trained in Missionary Cenacle principles, devotions and customs.


The Missionary Cenacle Apostolate has a clearly defined plan of apostolic formation derived from the traditional spiritual writings of the Church, from papal documents, and from the conferences, sermons and letters of Father Judge. Meetings are held every month. These meetings are most important for it is here that the Associates receive their training in the work of the Apostolate, and to a great extent, their apostolic formation.

The members are led first of all to grow in personal holiness.  Monthly, on a specified day, time is set aside for a period of recollection. Annually, in each Region a recollection day is held for all Associates. Annual Retreats are held in each Region. They are encouraged to have a regular confessor and to seek personal spiritual direction from a priest well acquainted with the spirit of the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate and to follow a rule of life.

A General Spiritual Guide for the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate is appointed by the General Custodian of the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate after consultation with the General Custodians of Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity and Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, respectively.  The General Spiritual Guide gives counsel to the MCA leadership on matters relating to spiritual formation.

The prime devotion of the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate is to the Most Holy Trinity, and to the Holy Spirit in a special manner.  The Cenacle is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and prays for her intercession as the Queen of the Missionary Cenacle.The prime devotion of the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate is to the Most Holy Trinity, and to the Holy Spirit in a special manner.  The Cenacle is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and prays for her intercession as the Queen of the Missionary Cenacle.


Realizing that the Blessed Sacrament is the “sun and center of their spiritual life”, Associates aspire to: (a) attend Mass and receive Holy Communion daily; (b) make frequent visits to Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. They strive to grow in grace through frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance.

Father Judge stressed the supreme importance of prayer. The Cenacle members follow the Gospel maxim, “we ought always to pray” (Luke 18:1). They are obliged to certain prayers each day, and are given an approved book of prayers.  The Associates’ day may include, whenever possible, the Rosary, the Way of the Cross, Lectio Divino, contemplation and reflection.

Spiritual reading is vitally important for the lay apostle. Books suitable for spiritual reading and for moral and doctrinal instruction are available to the Associates.  Among these books the Holy Bible holds the place of honor.  Encyclicals and writings of the Popes, as well as Pastorals and other letters of the Bishops are also accessible, and should be read by the members.


Father judge stressed the necessity of certain virtues which he considered essential to apostolic formation: “You are to practice virtues,” he said, “the virtues of Simplicity, Prudence, Humility, Charity, Self-Sacrifice, Patience and the virtue of Self-Denial.” The Associates are trained in these virtues. Frequently they are the topics of the priest’s conference at the monthly recollection day. At Cenacle meetings excerpts from Father Judge’s talks on these virtues are read. At the annual retreat each Associate commits himself to the practice of a particular Cenacle virtue. The Associate makes a particular examination of conscience each day. Meditation on Tuesday of each week is usually given over to thoughts on one’s Practice.


“There are two kinds of Simplicity – one purely natural and silly, found in people without judgment or discernment: a Simplicity which is worth nothing, or at least is not a virtue.  There is another Simplicity which comprises the essential rightness of keeping our words and thoughts clear of all deceit and complexity, and makes us go straight to God and our neighbor without evasion or pretense.” -St. Vincent de Paul.  “Persons with the Cenacle Spirit are simple persons. They do not have recourse to deceptive methods; they go straight; they are straightforward; their Simplicity begins with purity of intention. They have one aim; they are working for the love of God.” – Father Judge, “Meditations,” p. 176)


Prudence is one of the four cardinal virtues, or one of the four cornerstones of natural character that support a good supernatural character.  Prudence is that virtue which helps us to determine what we should do in a particular case. It is the application of our knowledge of principles of right reason to concrete cases with their special circumstances of time, place and manner.

Prudence is necessary for our own personal conduct. It is necessary in performing works of zeal in line with our apostolate. It is neces¬sary when we are advising people.  In our prayers and spiritual exercises, Prudence will help us to be moderate and tranquil and in keeping with our state of life.

Prudence acts slowly and after prayer; it doubts impulses and takes counsel. Prudence does one thing at a time; figures its own strength, perseveres in its undertakings.  Prudence does its work carefully. Prudence quietly forces itself to work and insists on an interior spirit, pure motives and the practice of God’s Presence.


“All that humility is simply the truth. It is recognizing our real relation with God. Humility does not consist in denying what we are, or denying what we have, but attributing what we are and have to Him who gave it. Humility reminds us, impresses upon us, causes us to realize that what we have, we have from God.” – Father Judge, “Meditations,” p. 191


“Charity is our great virtue be¬cause it is the great virtue of Jesus … The love of God means the love of our neighbor. There is no better evidence, no truer proof of a great love of God, than a great love of our neighbor. Love of our neighbor is proven in patience and in trial, in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. A treatment of our neighbor that is inconsiderate, harsh, un-brotherly or un-sisterly is un-Christ like, and argues a great want of the love of God. That fraternal love be in the Missionary Cenacle should be our constant prayer.” – Father judge, “Meditations,” p. 199


“It is timely to stop here and … to put the question straight to our own soul: ‘What think you of Christ?’ (Matt. 22:42). What would you do for Christ? And in the
answer you have the gauge of your love of Christ.

“…Love means service, and therefore a very evident mark of a real love for Jesus Christ is a desire to do something in His cause.”

“The spirit of sacrifice—do at least pray that we will get more of it! … Service, generous service, a service generous unto sacrifice, is the mark of true worship.” – From the writings of Father Judge


“Patience is that grace which enables us to bear afflictions and calamities with constancy and calmness of mind and with a ready submission to the will of God.

“Let us all pray for a patient, peaceable quiet spirit. Pray that your Cenacles may be ports of heavenly calm, little paradises of peace, and that your lives may be redolent of our patient, gentle Savior.” [Writings of Father Judge, “Meditations,” p. 220.]


“The good that you would do demands much that is painful and repugnant to nature. Self is crossed at every moment …and because of searching for strayed souls self ease suffers much. If sinners have been reconciled to God, it has been only after His grace, because of your self-denial.” [Writings of Father Judge, “Meditations,” p. 136]

It is recommended that each Associate practice a particular virtue to assist in overcoming a particular fault.

Be Good! Do Good! Be a Power for Good! The motto which Father judge gave to the Missionary Cenacle is the framework around which the Cenacle plan has been developed. It is simple and concise – Be good! Do good! Be a power for good! It contains the fundamentals of an effective apostolate, and for over fifty years this simple formula has been producing apostolic men and women for the Church. We see here the fulfillment of Father judge’s words: “You cannot practice these virtues, you cannot give yourself over to these devotions without producing a distinct type in the Church of God; so distinct that if you were among thousands of people you would be picked out, and they would say, he or she is a member of the Cenacle.”

“When I speak of the Cenacle spirit, I speak of the Catholic spirit. If you have been trained for any purpose, or made at all useful, it is that you might show forth that Christlike spirit, charity in good works. Saint Paul puts it this way – he speaks of ‘Faith that worketh by Charity’ (Gal. 5:6). This is a faith that is restless until it finds expression in good works. Now if you have that spirit you are going to communicate it. Why?  Because the Holy Ghost wants it communicated. It is His flame, the Pentecostal burning….

“Now the Spirit of God wants to use you. You are His instruments. You are the tools with which He is going to chisel out salvation for many souls. You are to work upon the lives of others. But that you may cooperate with the designs of the Holy Ghost, there must be that intensity of charity in your own hearts….

“It is the Will of Jesus Christ, understand, that this fire should spread, and that it should spread through you. You should thank God for this grace, for this selection. It should give you, certainly, a holy and tremendous joy to know that you have been chosen by the Almighty God; to know that His Holy Spirit is to burn in you for others, and is to be communicated through you to others.

“How is this to be done? You are to inspire others with this Catholic spirit. There is no problem about the extension of the Cenacle. Your only concern is to keep in your heart the Cenacle spirit; to keep in your Cenacle the Cenacle spirit.

“The great problem is this, being right with the Cenacle spirit. What is the Cenacle Spirit? What is Our Lord’s spirit? What is the Apostolic spirit? What is the missionary spirit? What is this ‘Faith that worketh by charity’? That is the Cenacle spirit. It is the Gospel spirit. It is charity – charity aflame. It is the breathing of the Holy Spirit. It is the sweet odor of Jesus Christ. You have been called to live it. This is your vocation. First of all, you are called to reservoir that spirit in your own lives, that your heart may be aflame with it. Then you are to spread it. That is your mission.”  (Father judge’s address on the occasion of the Silver jubilee of his priesthood, May, 1924.)

MCA Leadership:

As of 2014, Mr. Shawn Witmer is the Acting General Custodian of the MCA. Shawn is aided by a Council that is made up of six Region Custodians from around the various regions in the Western Hemisphere. The council meets several times per year to plan, pray and discuss the issues facing the MCA. Above all things, the council exists to further the missionary charism of the MCA.