The Catholic Church in the United States

1492 to the Present
Direction of Intention
My God, give me the grace to
perform this action with you and
through love for you.
In advance, I offer to you all the
good that I will do and accept all the
difficulty I may meet therein.
St. Ann, Pray for us.
St. Francis de Sales, Pray for us
• The World in 1492
• Catholics in the early colonies
• Building a Nation
• Catholics, Slavery and the Civil War
• Immigrants, Immigrants, Immigrants
• Catholics in American Politics
• The Catholic Parish – post WWII
• Catholic Saints
• Catholics Today
• Church Affairs
•Election of Rodrigo Borgia
• Leadership of the Church
with worldly affairs
• Church both a spiritual and temporal
• Christendom
• World Affairs
• The closing of the Mediterranean Sea to trade
• Portugal circumnavigates Africa
• Spain unites and expels
the Moors
• Columbus Voyage
• Life After Columbus – 1492 to 1600
• Let’s NOT spiritualize the initial voyages
• The first waves of Europeans were seeking trade
and wealth
• Religion only
becomes important
after the Protestant
Reformation – 1517
• Fight for the SOULS
of Native peoples
• The Catholic Church intervenes and sides with
Native Americans
• Franciscan friar, Bartolomé de las Casas, first made
Europe aware of the fate that had befallen thousands of
the natives in enslavement by the Spanish conquerors.
• Prompted Pope Paul III in 1537 to issue the bull Sublimis
Deus in which he declared: "The said Indians and all
other people who may later be discovered by
Christians, are by no means to be deprived of their
liberty or the possession of their property, even though
they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ." (American
Catholicism, 5)
• 1st Apparition: At dawn on December
9, 1531
• Juan Diego, an Indian convert, was going to
Tlatelolco to attend catechism class and
hear the Mass. Passing Tepeyac Hill,
Witnessed a young woman dressed in
native clothing asking that a shrine be built
on the hill side
• Subsequent Apparitions – December 10 –
• The Image and the Flowers
• From 1531 onward – a place of
pilgrimage – hope and identity
• Catholicism first came to the territories now forming the United
States with the Spanish explorers and settlers in present-day
Florida (1513) South Carolina (1566) Georgia (1568–1684
• The first Catholic Mass in North America???
• Solemnity of the Epiphany, January 6, 1494, Dominican Republic
• In March 1509, Juan Ponce de León, with a group of colonists, including
priests, landed in Puerto Rico at “Caparra” Mass was celebrated (US
• In June 1526, two Dominican priests with expedition land near
at Cape Fear (near present-day Wilmington, North Carolina)
possibly First Mass in NC.
• 1559 Catholic Mass celebrated in Pensacola, Florida. Recorded
• Saint Augustine Florida is the oldest European city in the United
States. And has the oldest continually functioning church in the
United States First Mass celebrated on September 8, 1565
• First Catholic Mass in original
British Colonies - St. Clements's
Island, Maryland on
March 25, 1634,
• French Catholic in Canada late 1500s
• French Catholics in what would be the United States
• Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (1668), St. Igance on the Straits of Mackinac, Michigan
(1671) and Holy Family at Cahokia, Illinois (1699)
• Colonies and forts in Detroit (1701), St. Louis, Mobile (1702), Kaskaskia, Il (1703),
Biloxi, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans(1718).
• The French possessions were under the authority of the diocese of Quebec
• 1639 Ursuline Nuns first arrive in Quebec
• 1720, the Ursulines were operating a hospital in New Orleans.
• Also known as Canadian Martyrs;
Isaac Jogues and 7 Companions;
Jesuit Martyrs of North America;
Martyrs of New France. (Canada
an dup state New York) 1643 –
• The Martyrs of Virginia
• "Martyrdom of Johannes
Baptista de Segura - 1570
• Virginia – Named after…
• Early reference to Polish (Catholic) glassmakers – prior to1620
• No religious tolerance for Catholics and popery
• Catholics in Massachusetts
• Strict religious laws.
• Laws in 1647 and 1700 forbade Catholic priests to reside in the colony
under pain of imprisonment and execution
• Catholic Maryland
• 1634 - the Province of Maryland by Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore
• The first settlers were accompanied by two Jesuit missionaries travelling as
gentlemen adventurers.
• 1646 defeat of the Royalists in the English Civil War led to stringent
laws against Catholic education and the extradition of known Jesuits
from the colony
• Toleration Act of 1649 –
granting religious tolerance to
all Trinitarian faiths – would
become the basis of our First
• The first free standing Roman
Catholic Church in British North
America at Historic St. Mary's
City in 1667
• Population of Catholics
• In 1634, Maryland recorded a little less than 3,000 Catholics out of a
population of 34,000 (around 9% of the population). In 1757, Pennsylvania
recorded fewer than 1,400 Catholics out of a population of about 200,000.
• In 1785, when the newly founded United States) contained nearly four
million people, there were fewer than 25,000 Catholics (about 1.6% of the
• Church Structure
• Colonial Catholics were under a titular bishop of the Catholic Church in
England and Wales or Vicar Apostolic of the London
• At the time of the American Revolution
• No bishops, No diocese, 25? priests – no sisters, 3 standing churches
• Difficult and dangerous
• Itinerant Priests – Weddings, baptisms and other sacraments
provided occasionally
• Family devotions – the rosary, novenas, family prayers.
• Catholic books – Introduction to a Devout Life and The Imitation
of Christ – Thomas Kempis
• In the Military
• American Catholics, a very small percentage of the population of the 13
colonies, 1.6 percent, were overwhelmingly patriots and played a role in the
American Revolution out of all proportion to the small fragment of the
American people they represented.
• Served in Leadership positions in Army – One in particular - Colonel John
Fitzgerald was a trusted aide and private secretary to General George
• In the Navy - Captains Joshua Barney and John Barry
• Regiment that was Catholic during the Revolution was recruited at
Saint Mary’s Parish in Philadelphia under the command of Colonel
William Clifford.
• Foreign Aid from Catholic Spain
• Catholic, including Lafayette, Duportail and Pulaski. Of course the French
troops were almost all Catholic, and there were tens of thousands of them
who saw service in the US.
• The first mass in Boston was a funeral mass for a French soldier with
members of the Continental Congress in attendance.
• Washington on occasion attended mass during the War along with other
Founding Fathers.
An Artillery wife, Mary Hays McCauly
(better known as Molly Pitcher) shared
the rigors of Valley Forge with her
husband, William Hays. Her actions
during the battle of Monmouth on June
28, 1778 became legendary..
• Charles Carroll of Maryland
• Charles Carroll, the only Roman
Catholic to sign the Declaration of
Independence, was also the last
surviving signer, dying in Baltimore in
1832 at the age of 95.
• Was considered the wealthiest of the
Founding Fathers and had the most to
gain by independence.
• Spent much of his fortune on financing
Washington and his army

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