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...]

James J. Walsh, Neurologist and Medievalist

Today marks the death of James J. Walsh (1865-1942), physician, historian and author. Born in Pennsylvania, he studied at St. John’s College (now Fordham University) in the Bronx before joining the Jesuits. After a few years, he left and enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a medical degree. After post-doctoral studies in [Read More...]

Marist Founder

Today marks the death of Father Jean-Claude Colin (1790-1875), who in 1816 founded the Society of Mary, known as the Marists. Born in France, he grew up in the aftermath of the French Revolution, which event had devastated the French presbyterate. As seminarians, he and Jean-Claude Courveille decided to form an order that would help [Read More...]

Treasure from an Archivist’s Family Attic

As an archivist, you see a lot of interesting photos. This one shows an altar built by a patient in a tubercular hospital during the early 1940′s. It was featured in the pages of The Tablet, the Brooklyn Diocese’s official newspaper. A few years later, I came across this same image in a family photo [Read More...]

Lecture on the 1891 New Orleans Lynching

JOHN D. CALANDRA ITALIAN AMERICAN INSTITUTEQueens College, CUNY THE PHILIP V. CANNISTRARO SEMINAR SERIES IN ITALIAN AMERICAN STUDIES Tuesday, March 10, 2009, 6 p.m.The Crescent City Lynchings: Reconstructing the 1891 New Orleans LynchingTom SmithAfter a sensational trial, eleven Italian Americans acquitted in the murder of New Orleans police chief David Hennessy were killed in the [Read More...]

“The Golden Age of Catholic Social Action”

The 1930’s saw priests, religious and laypeople vigorously working for social justice. In 1933 Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin started the Catholic Worker with its threefold program of a newspaper, soup kitchens and “Houses of hospitality.” The Catholic Worker was an unparalleled attempt by Catholics to live out a radically evangelical form of poverty in [Read More...]