“He has done the greatest thing anyone can do.”

At the time of his assassination, plans were underway for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to make a retreat with Thomas Merton at Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey. On April 5, 1968, Merton wrote to Coretta Scott King: Some events are too big and terrible to talk about. I think we all anticipated this one: [Read More...]

Founder of Christian Unity Week

Since today begins the week of prayer for Christian Unity, it’s a good opportunity to mention one of its founders, Father Paul Wattson (1863-1940). The son of an Episcopal priest, he was ordained in 1885. Over the years he felt a growing call to the religious life. In 1898 he and Lurana Mary White, an [Read More...]

An Apostle to the Slovak Immigrants

Between 1870 and 1920 some 650,000 Slovak immigrants came to the United States. A largely Catholic population, they had 241 parishes by 1930. Today marks the death of an early leader of the Slovak community, Father Stephen Furdek (1855-1915), the first Slovak priest in America. Born in Slovakia, he volunteered for the Diocese of Cleveland, [Read More...]

“You Are Just Like Jesus”

A 1959 Gallup Poll listed him as the seventh most popular person in the world (I’m not sure who the first six were). In his time, Dr. Thomas A. Dooley (1927-1961) was a Catholic folk hero whose humanitarian work in Southeast Asia won him the admiration of popes and presidents. Today marks his death of [Read More...]

A Woman Who Made a Difference

This day, as Pope Gregory XI entered Rome in 1377, officially marks an end to the Avignon Papacy (1308-1377), a period known as the “Babylonian Captivity of the Church.” For most of the 1300’s, the Popes were French. In 1308 Clement V (Bertrand de Got) moved his residence to France (seen above) after some trouble [Read More...]

“A Magnificent Priestly Dynasty”

During National Vocations Awareness Week, I’ve referred quite a bit to families with multiple vocations. As noted earlier, every diocese and religious community can fill in their own examples. (Over the years, it’s been estimated that nearly 350 Brooklyn priests had a relative previously ordained.) This photograph shows four brothers who all became Monsignors, the [Read More...]

Those Hanselman Boys

Today marks the death of Father Joseph F. Hanselman (1856-1923), who played a leading role in the American Jesuits during his lifetime. Born in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg section, he began studies for the diocesan priesthood, but decided to join the Jesuits instead. Ordained in 1892, he began teaching at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, [Read More...]

Upcoming Lecture at Fordham

Back in 2001, Father Mark Massa, S.J., started a center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham. The Curran Center has become one of the premier institutes of its kind in the country. On Tuesday, February 3, at 6 p.m., they’ll be hosting a lecture by Dr. Margaret McGuiness, Chair of the Department of Religion at [Read More...]

The Dominican “Home Boys”

The Dominican History Blog is a model for Church History blogs. Today they have a great entry on the friars’ baseball teams from the 1920′s and 1930′s: At Ocean City the summer residence for the student brothers from the Dominican House of Studies had been used as an orphanage or a ‘home’, which is why [Read More...]

The Clerical Country Club

Until 1957, the Brooklyn diocese covered all of Long Island. For most of that time, the bulk of its parishes were concentrated in Brooklyn and Queens. Only after World War II did the number of Nassau and Suffolk parishes grow significantly. Before that, churches in that area were considered “country parishes.” This 1898 line drawing [Read More...]