Boston Catholics: A History of the Church and Its People

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2000 Trade paperback New. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 357 p. Contains: Unspecified. Audience: General/trade. 5A-20-C

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Overview

In this engaging work, now available in paperback, Thomas H. O'Connor chronicles the activities, achievements, and failures of the Church's leaders and parishioners over the course of two centuries.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
O'Connor (history, emeritus, Boston Coll.) continues his focus on Roman Catholicism in Boston's history. This book (following Civil War Boston, LJ 1/98) condenses the more than 200-year history of the Church in Boston into developmental historical periods based on leadership of the city's archdiocese. Starting with the first public Mass on November 2, 1788, through Cardinal Bernard Law's leading a group of individuals to Pope Paul II's visit to Cuba (1998), O'Connor charts the course of the Church as well as the city. Unlike Robert F. Keeler's Parish (LJ 11/1/97), which focused on one parish, O'Connor's work examines the political, economic, and social climate that draws individual Boston Catholics into distinctive parishes. Though a time line would have been helpful, this interesting historical chronicle is recommended for public and academic libraries.--Leo Kriz, West Des Moines P.L., IA
From The Critics
Thomas O'Connor is University Historian and Professor of History, Emeritus, at Boston College and draws upon his years of scholarship to provide an informative, engaging, splendidly written and flawlessly presented history of the Catholic church and laity in Boston, Massachusetts in Boston Catholics: A History Of The Church And Its People. From the earliest days of immigration when "no Catholics need apply" was a pervasive barrier to jobs, education, and housing, to the years of growth and assimilation spearheaded by an active and involved church, to the social and ecclesiastical changes of recent decades, this remarkable and informative history will be read with interest by Catholics and students of American history and culture.
Kirkus Reviews
A well-crafted local history that moves beyond institutional growth to capture the spirit of the people in the pews. OþConnor has made a career of Boston history (The Boston Irish, 1995; Civil War Boston, 1997) and teaches at a Catholic college, so it seems only natural that he should eventually synthesize these interests into a book about the cityþs most conspicuous religion. He follows the Churchþs rise from a minority sect despised by the Puritans, through its tentative acceptance after the Revolution, to its quashing again by the resurgent "nativism" of the 1840s and '50s, when tens of thousands of Irish fled the Potato Famine by teeming onto Bostonþs shores. In the late 19th century, Bostonþs Irish turned inward somewhat, building their own institutions, such as churches, parochial schools, and hospitals. They also faced a renewed campaign of ethnic oppositionþnot from the Old Guard this time, but from the new Italian and southeast European immigrants who began arriving in droves in the 1880s. (OþConnor can be faulted for focusing overmuch on the Irish experience, neglecting these other Catholic immigrant groups.) By the 20th century, Catholics, especially the Irish, dominated local politics, symbolized by the election of JFKþs grandfather John F. Fitzgerald as Bostonþs mayor. OþConnor traces how WWII stimulated Catholicismþs numeric growth just as it did for Protestants (from 1944 to 1960, the number of Boston Catholics was growing by 50,000þ60,000 per year). OþConnor also demonstrates the short-lived nature of this surge by including graphs depicting the archdioceseþs decline in priests, schools,and other institutions since the 1970s. However, the cycle of immigration and renewal seems to be repeating itself. Southeast Asian immigrants are filling the empty parishes, and the archdiocese now offers Mass in 15 different languages. Strong overall, replete with local texture, and geared toward the general reader. (33 b&w photos, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555534332
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 4/27/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.71 (w) x 8.64 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas H. O'Connor is University Historian and Professor of History, Emeritus, at Boston College. He is the author of numerous books on Boston's history, including Civil War Boston: Home Front and Battlefield; The Boston Irish: A Political History; Building a New Boston: Politics and Urban Renewal, 1950-1979; and South Boston: My Home Town-The History of an Ethnic Neighborhood, all published by Northeastern University Press. A native of South Boston, he now lives in Braintree, Massachusetts.
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