A New Era for True Restoration (Part 1)

It is with no regrets and a feeling of great accomplishment that I announce that as of today I have stepped down as the President of True Restoration. Alexander Krawczyk is now the head of the company and he and I have been working together on transition for the past six months and I will continue to be a sounding board and advisor in the months ahead through to the end of this calendar year. 

Today I have moved to Most Holy Trinity Seminary in Reading, Pennsylvania, where I will serve the clergy and seminarians as a lay helper. For those unfamiliar with the term, a lay helper is exactly what it sounds like: a layperson who helps clergy and religious with various tasks. In my case, I can help with various back office work, like bookkeeping, taxes, travel arrangements, and event planning, as well as with manual labor around the seminary, so that seminarians can have more time to study, reflect, and pray.

At the same time, and perhaps at the heart of being a lay helper, I have the opportunity to attend daily Mass and live in a spirit of recollection in a religious house, away from the cares and distractions of the world, which can free me to focus on what matters most in this life, a deep and abiding relationship with Our Lord. 

The seeds for this move were sown in 2020, as I experienced the lockdowns in Paris and contemplated all the illusions I had held up to that point as well as the status of my own particular state of life. Those who know me well have known for some time about my thoughts of serving the Church in a deeper way later on in my life, but as the lockdowns continued, I wondered, “Why not now?” 

I had been living my dream life for a number of years at that point, doing what I wanted when I wanted, living and traveling where I wished, and though I knew I was called neither to the married life nor the priesthood, I felt a desire to do more with my life than service my own desires. 

When, after some prayerful reflection as these thoughts crystallized into an idea, I broached the subject with Bishop Sanborn in early 2021; he was uncertain at first, knowing my life of travel, and asked if I was sure I could settle down and be in one place for the majority of the year, which had not been my life for the last decade. I replied that all we could do is see, but that I was cautiously optimistic that I could. St. Alphonsus says that one should not change a state in life without serious reflection, and I can say that I have seriously reflected on this.

In fact, as the last two years have progressed in preparation for this day, I have gone through all the stages of “grieving” for leaving the life I have built for myself. That grieving included, early on, many doubts. But in prayer and in my private moments I kept coming back to the conviction that life is short, eternity is long, and that I can and should secure eternal life with every measure possible, and that this big natural move was a small supernatural step in that direction. 

Indeed, those who know me know that the very last place I would wish to move to is the United States after having left it a decade ago. I have seen this fact alone as proof of a genuine desire: doing something I have no desire to do naturally, indeed, have an aversion to, because I believe in what I am doing supernaturally.

I look back fondly on my journey with True Restoration. While it has its own history as a company, it has paralleled my own journey in the faith: starting with the SSPX and its hazy, emotional, and imprecise notions of “Tradition” and “pastoral councils,” coming to sedevacantism, understanding the danger of the una cum Mass and those who compromise with it, and finding others who share my love of the Faith and desire to know more.

Very early on in the company’s journey I told all who were working for us then that our goal was to build something in which any one of us could be replaced because we had built a foundation on systems, not personalities. Seventeen years after its founding, many of the early part-time semi-volunteers at True Restoration have been replaced by full-time owner-operators, along with a coterie of consulting micro-owners from the ranks of our oldest paying members, and now it’s my own turn to be replaced. I’m also pleased to hand the company over with no debt on our books. 

I will still host the occasional TradReviews, and indeed, Deo volente, Bp. Sanborn and I will launch a new series next season (details as and if that develops). Further, as I alluded to above, I will still be mentoring our new President behind the scenes as needed but due to my position working and living in a religious house I have had to divest myself of ownership stakes in four other companies, including True Restoration, so I am no longer one of its owners, but the team and my successor have my full support and confidence. 

For now I ask for your prayers as I make a radical change in my own life, and ask you to pray for the team and benefactors at True Restoration that they may continue on well with its stated mission, to offer clerically-advised content to help Catholics to learn their faith, captured in a recently refreshed tagline: Learn & Live the Catholic Faith.

Stephen Heiner

Stephen founded True Restoration in 2006 and served as its first President until 2023. He now lives in Reading, Pennsylvania.