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The Catholic Cross-Over: A Case Study of St. Thomas More Parish, 1950 – 2000. by Alice Holohan.

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Presentation on theme: "The Catholic Cross-Over: A Case Study of St. Thomas More Parish, 1950 – 2000. by Alice Holohan."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Catholic Cross-Over: A Case Study of St. Thomas More Parish, 1950 – by Alice Holohan

2 Introduction St. Thomas More was founded in 1947 in the Wrightwood neighborhood in Ashburn, Chicago. It was started by an Irish-American community but today the area’s parish is over 90% African- American. © 1998

3 Literature Review Immigration and Assimilation  Smith (1996): Irish immigrants lived in ethnic enclaves supported by a religious foundation.  Skerrett, Kantowicz & Avella (1993): Enclaves turned into parishes which exposed immigrants to the American values of initiative and individualism.  Miller and Kavanaugh (1975): Catholic schools were used as agents of assimilation. Racial Resistance  Gamm (1999): “ Urban Crisis of the 1920s”  Ignatiev (1995): Violence was used against African-Americans. The Reaction of the Catholic Church  Miller (1975): Blacks were treated as a form of missionary work.  Curry (1977): Archbishop of Chicago in the 1930s purposely encouraged black isolation. © 1998

4 Segregation In 1948, all racial restrictive covenants in Chicago were banned. It was now illegal to promote segregation but it wasn’t until the 1960s that it was considered immoral to segregate. In the same year, the construction of 48 Catholic churches in the suburbs was commissioned. © 2006

5 Racial Theology Theory Vatican II ideal of the “Mystical Body of Christ” meets the racial equality ideals of the Civil Rights Movement Shift to a “Servant Church” which focused on social justice instead of Church doctrine ©

6 Racial Theology Theory Applied The effect of Vatican II on St. Thomas More Parish Conservative Parishioners Move to suburbs in search of parish to match their religious ideals Liberal Parishioners Ties to parish are not as strong; They move to suburbs as neighborhood value does down Conservative Parishioners Older population who upholds “parish as a fortress” mentality; Stay in STM neighborhood.

7 Thesis Statement Given the limited research on the association between religious and residential segregation, the purpose of this project is to assess the Church’s reaction to its incoming African- American parishioners. Due to the change in racial composition from an Irish-American parish to a predominantly African-American parish, a content analysis of the weekly church bulletins of St. Thomas More in Chicago is employed.

8 Methodology Content Analysis of St. Thomas More Bulletins from 1956 – Convenience Sampling was used to determine the years to analyze. Bulletin columns were coded and separated into 8 categories U.S. Census Bureau data of the Ashburn area was also analyzed. ©

9 Findings St. Thomas More Bulletin Cover, September 1970.

10 Findings Table 1. Percentage of Bulletin Column Topics By Year TOPIC: STM religious events 24%14% 9%6% STM non-religious events 42%49%33%24%16% Other Parish Events 3%10%25%26%33% Catholic Doctrine 27%13%11%7%2% Elderly.7%4%8%10%13% Irish Culture 1%0%2%5%7% Community Awareness --5% 10%17% Employment Opportunities -- 2%12%6%

11 Race defined in the late 1950s “In our archdiocese we are doing so little to bring outsiders into the Household of Faith.” – Feb. 2, 1956 “Learn to like people, even though many of them may be as different from you as a Chinese.” – Dec. 12, 1958 © 2006

12 Race defined in the 1960s Chicago Catholic schools are ordered to accept African-Americans in “The Church is called Catholic because it brings together all races and nations in the worship of one true God.”- July 24 th, “It’s a vicious circle. A lack of toleration among Catholics is one of the promoters of segregation.” – Dec. 1 st, “If we fail to love our neighbor, men of every religion, race, and ethnicity, then our so-called love of God is mere phoniness and hypocrisy.” – Sept. 20, 1969 © 2002

13 Race defined in the 1970s and 1980s Race was never an issue. The only time mentioned:  “Vandals we have – destructive, evil, they live in our parish. They are not black – they are white. They are your children, our children.” – July 13 th, © 2005

14 Race in the 1990s Beginning of St. Martin de Porres devotions to promote the awareness of inter-racial harmony, an “important Church duty of promoting Christ-like love and peace.” – April 29, “Freedom for the victims of racism is a right to life issue. Uphold the command to love one another, even when love seems impossible.” – Feb. 17, © 2000

15 Race in 2000 Events catered to the African-American community:  “The Lira Singers – A Special Performance of African-American Song.”  “Archdiocese Black Catholics Celebration of Marriage”  “Commemoration of 22 Ugandan Martyrs who died in 1895.” ©2002

16 Percentage of Black Population in Census Blocks 7001 – 7005 from 1970 to 2000

17 Discussion In the 1990s the community was not stable as parishes typically have been throughout the century. In 1993, a white senior citizen was killed by a 21-year-old African-American man. Number of houses for sale in 1993: 10 Number of houses for sale in 1994: 46 The Church is no longer a community anchor. © 2006

18 Discussion Since the Church has turned into a servant church, it needs more money than ever to finance operations. As parishioners leave for the suburbs, their financial support obviously leaves as well. Catholic schools cannot be funded therefore they have to close. We must ask ourselves what will be a way of socializing urban residents into upward mobility if schools are closed and a sense of a stable community is lost. © 2006

19 Questions? Thank you! © 2005


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