December 12, 2018

Gary Cooper wasn’t raised Catholic, but his wife Veronica and daughter Maria were devout Catholics. “In the mid to late fifties,” his daughter Maria recalls, “my father’s conversion to Catholicism started silently. He never discussed much about it but simply started joining us for Mass more often.” On April 9, 1959, two years before his death of cancer, Cooper was formally received into the Catholic Church at Beverly Hills’s Church of the Good Shepherd. His daughter recalled that in his… Read more

December 11, 2018

Not long before his death, General William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) told an interviewer: “My family is strongly Roman Catholic. I am not.” Technically, that wasn’t true. Born Tecumseh Sherman, his father died when he was age nine, one of  eleven children, leaving the family in dire straits. The family of Ohio Senator Thomas Ewing, nearby neighbors, took him in and raised him as their foster child. Mrs. Ewing, a devout Catholic, had one condition: the boy had to be baptized… Read more

December 10, 2018

In 1948, the book world’s surprise hit was The Seven Storey Mountain, the autobiography of a Trappist monk named Thomas Merton. That year also marked the centennial of his monastery, Our Lady of Gethsemani Abbey. Over the next few years, Merton’s writings would attract unprecedented numbers of applicants to the monastery. As the year closed, Merton praised “the great sea of graces that was flowing down on Gethsemani.” But during the abbey’s early years, its survival seemed doubtful. Lack of… Read more

December 9, 2018

He was one of Golden Age Hollywood’s most prolific figures, its premier action director. Over  fifty years he directed the likes of Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, and James Cagney. He gave young Marion Morrison his first starring role (and stage name). Raoul Walsh never won an Oscar, but he more than held his own with the era’s best directors. Yet the last thing he wanted, biographer Marilyn Ann Moss notes, was to be called an artist. Born Albert… Read more

December 8, 2018

Right Rev. George W. Mundelein, “New Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception,” The Brooklyn Eagle, September 7, 1915, 9. The Right Rev. Bishop McDonnell will bless the completed wing of the new Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception, being built at Atlantic and Washington Avenues, tomorrow afternoon at 3 o’clock. He will be assisted by the Right Rev. George W. Mundelein, Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn, and the professors of the new Brooklyn preparatory seminary, the Rev. Dr. Anthony Reichert, the Rev. Francis… Read more

December 7, 2018

When I was growing up in Queens, I had a number of friends whose Irish-born parents had as teens taken “the Pledge,” a vow to abstain from alcohol until age eighteen. Some kept it their whole lives. I found this fascinating, given the fact that alcohol plays such an undeniably large role in Irish/Irish-American culture. Yet outside of the Islamic world, Ireland actually has the highest rate of abstinence from alcohol. One fifth of the adult population refrains completely. This… Read more

December 5, 2018

Patrick C. Keely Receives Laetare Medal, March 30, 1884, The Catholic Review, April 5, 1884 The Laetare Medal of the University of Notre Dame was conferred last Sunday on the great Catholic architect, Mr. Patrick Charles Keely of Brooklyn. No more honorable selection could have been made, nor one that would certainly reflect back on the University conferring it an honor fully corresponding to that which it gave. All public testimonies of honor, such as this, ought to have a mutual… Read more

December 4, 2018

In the summer of 1854, a young Irish priest named Hugh Gallagher traveled back to his homeland from a far-off city on the other side of the world known as San Francisco. Father Gallagher’s job was to recruit women religious for work in this growing city that needed the kind of help they were best qualified for: teaching children, tending to the poor and sick, nursing the dying. Soon after he arrived, Father Gallagher approached the Mother Superior of the… Read more

December 3, 2018

Friends, this morning marks the Feast of St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552), the Jesuit missionary who helped bring Christianity to Japan and India. Born in Spain, he was studying at the University of Paris when he met St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556). Together with their five companions, they founded the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits. After working in Rome for a few years, Francis plunged into missionary work, first in India and then Japan, where he was highly successful…. Read more

December 2, 2018

Introduction Born in France and raised in England, Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) was one of the most prolific, not to mention fiery and controversial, Catholic authors in the first half of the twentieth century. He wrote in just about every genre: poetry, travel writing, essays, history, biography, and current events. Deeply committed to Europe’s Catholic heritage, one of his most famous quotes is “the faith is Europe and Europe is the faith.” His writing has inspired the likes of Pink Floyd… Read more

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