New blogs, like new books, must justify their existence. I see this one as a way to share my interest in all aspects of the history of the Catholic Church: local, national, and international. For me, this has both a personal and a professional aspect. Professionally speaking, I received my Ph.D. in Church History from The Catholic University of America in 2003, and from time to time I teach courses on the subject at the local seminaries. My writing has been almost exclusively in the field of American Catholic history. On a personal level, Church History is a subject that has never exhausted my interest.
And it started at an early age. When you’re growing up Catholic, you’re surrounded by history. More likely than not, the church you attended as a child had statues of men and women who lived a long time ago, and stained glass windows of scenes from the past. If you went to a Catholic school, some wall had paintings of bishops and former principals. Another wall had old class photos. You realized that you were part of a long tradition, something bigger than yourself. The same thing was true if you went to a Catholic college or a university.
Catholics are historically minded people, but at the same time they don’t know much about their own history. Take the local high school, which is probably named for a bishop or a priest or a nun who lived long before you got there. How much do we know about that person, or the religious community that founded the school? Maybe the school had a scholarship endowed in the name of someone long since dead. How much do we know about that person?
If you’re a college basketball fan, you might root for Notre Dame or Villanova, Georgetown or Gonzaga, Boston College or Loyola. How much do you know about these schools: who founded them, why they were founded, the challenges they faced in their early years, or how the school got its name?
My experience has been that there aren’t a lot of resources on the web to answer these and other questions. And most schools, Catholic or non-Catholic, don’t offer courses in the history of Catholicism. My hope here is to help people become more familiar with all aspects of Catholic Church history. It’s a great story, rich and multifaceted, and one that shouldn’t be neglected. Writing from New York City, my main interest is in the local scene. But it’s not confined there, and my entries will attempt to reflect that.
So “without further eloquence,” let us proceed!