America’s First Suffragette

The first sizeable number of Catholics to settle in the thirteen colonies were in Maryland, beginning in the 1630’s. While the colony was not officially Catholic, its large Catholic population and the high number of Catholics in public office made it seem that way at times. Among the prominent Maryland families were the Brents. Giles [Read More...]

Avery Dulles, Comic Book Hero

Avery Dulles wore numerous hats in his life: scion of a distinguished American family, Harvard grad, Catholic convert, World War II veteran, Jesuit, theologian, Cardinal. In addition to all of this, he was featured in Treasure Chest, the Catholic comic book distributed in parochial schools between 1946 and 1972. The article featured his conversion story. [Read More...]

Pius XII Elected Pope

Today marks the unanimous election of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli (1876-1958) to the papacy as Pope Pius XII. Pacelli was Pius XI’s announced choice for successor. Born Eugenio Pacelli to a noble Roman family, he entered the diplomatic service as a young priest. From 1917 to 1929 he was nuncio to Germany. He then came back [Read More...]

St. Joseph’s Church, Brooklyn

Since March is dedicated to St. Joseph, this is a good chance to highlight a local parish dedicated in his name. St. Joseph parish, located in Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights section, was founded in 1853 to meet the needs of Irish immigrants flocking to the area in large numbers. Soon it became what today we call [Read More...]

“The poor Wretches, fingering their Beads, chanting Latin”

John Adams wasn’t the biggest fan of the Catholic Church, but there was something he found undeniably fascinating about it. In October 1774, while he was in Philadelphia on Continental Congress business, he stopped in to visit an unspecified Catholic Church. He wrote about the experience to his wife Abigail: This afternoon, led by Curiosity [Read More...]

The Irish and American Catholicism

Much of the Catholic growth in nineteenth century America was due to Irish numbers and Irish leadership. Father John Lancaster Spalding, a future Bishop of Peoria and the driving force behind the founding of The Catholic University of America, had this to say in his 1880 book The Religious Mission of the Irish People: The [Read More...]

“I thought Catholics were the worst people on earth.”

This story seems like a good way to start Women’s History Month. For all four years of the American Civil War, the French-born Jesuit Louis-Hipployte Gache (1817-1907) served as a Chaplain with the Confederate Army. His letters, written between May 1861 and July 1865, describe his experiences with the Tenth Louisiana Infantry. In 1981 Father [Read More...]

Dr. William S. Lofton (1862-1919)

Today marks the death of Dr. William S. Lofton (1862-1919), a prominent African-American layman and dentist in Washington, D.C. As a young man he emigrated to the District from Batesville, Arkansas. In 1886 he graduated from Spencerian Business College and two years later from Howard University’s Dental College. His dental practice, located on M Street [Read More...]

Sisters of the Holy Family, 1917

This wonderful photo, dating back to 1917, shows the community that Henriette Delille founded. The caption reads: “COLORED SISTERS OF THE HOLY FAMILY. The Holy Family Convent at New Orleans has eight Catholic schools in Louisiana and two in Texas. The students are taught Industrial Art, Embroidery, Music, etc., and become very efficient.” [Read more...]

Henriette Delille, African-American Foundress

As Black History Month comes to a close, it’s a good time to mention Henriette Delille (1813-1862), foundress of the second community for African-American women. (The first was the Oblates Sisters of Providence in 1829.) Born in 1813 to a white Creole and his African-American mistress, she grew up in the city’s free Black community. [Read More...]