Pat McNamara, our favorite historian and professor has a terrific column up this week, studying Daniel A. Rudd, a former slave who became an entrepreneur and a journalist and eventually published the first “black” Catholic newspaper:
Born in Bardstown, Kentucky, Daniel Arthur Rudd was baptized in St. Joseph’s Church, where the Rudds worshiped together with their owners. For three generation, his relatives had been church sextons (caretakers for the facilities). From childhood, Daniel recalled never experiencing segregation in church: “We have been all over St. Joseph Church from foundation stone to pinnacle and no one ever told us to move.”
Although slaves weren’t allowed to attend school, Rudd’s biographer Gary Bruce Agee suggests that a local priest may have tutored Rudd. After the Civil War, he moved to Ohio with his older brother Charles. There he finished high school, a rare achievement in those days for whites or blacks. As a young man he developed his own businesses while he became politically active in civil rights. He started working for a newspaper in 1880.
Rudd had a genuine sense of mission. He wanted to, “do what no other paper published by colored men has dared to do—give the great Catholic Church a hearing and show that it is worthy of at least a fair consideration at the hands of our race, being as it is the only place on this Continent where rich and poor, white and black, must drop prejudice at the threshold and go hand in hand to the altar.”
Another fella with a mission is Pat McNamara, himself, who has been using McNamara’s Blog as a platform to highlight the men and women, lay, religious and clerical who helped to build the church in America, and sometimes to save it from others or itself. You can see some of their faces in his new banner!
Fascinating stories, all — the Holy Spirit is no where near as fastidious as the rest of us, and uses sometimes surprisingly humble people to do tremendously important work. But we’ve seen that over and over again, starting with the Gospels.
I’ve been pestering him to do it for a while, and today he does, so ladies and gents, may I introduce you to McNamara’s Blog, at Patheos — a little feast of American Catholic history served up by a fellow who is never so happy as when he is focusing his lenses on Ages Past and then bringing his gleanings to the rest of us.
He’s Irish, he’s from Queens, and now he’s all ours! Please adjust your bookmarks accordingly — because this is going to become a fast favorite — and give a big welcome to Pat McNamara, Patheos blogger!