Priest, Parish, and People: Saving the Faith in Philadelphia's

Priest, Parish, and People: Saving the Faith in Philadelphia's "Little Italy"

by Richard N. Juliani
Pub. Date:
University of Notre Dame Press


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Priest, Parish, and People: Saving the Faith in Philadelphia's "Little Italy"

From the perspective of historical sociology, Richard N. Juliani traces the role of religion in the lives and communities of Italian immigrants in Philadelphia from the 1850s to the early 1930s. By the end of the nineteenth century, Philadelphia had one of the largest Italian populations in the country. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia eventually established twenty-three parishes for the exclusive use of Italians. Juliani describes the role these parishes played in developing and anchoring an ethnic community and in shaping its members' new identity as Italian Americans during the years of mass migration from Italy to America. 
Priest, Parish, and People blends the history of Monsignor Antonio Isoleri—pastor from 1870 to 1926 of St. Mary Magdalen dePazzi, the first Italian parish founded in the country—with that of the Italian immigrant community in Philadelphia. Relying on parish and archdiocesan records, secular and church newspapers, archives of religious orders, and Father Isoleri's personal papers, Juliani chronicles the history of St. Mary Magdalen dePazzi as it grew from immigrant refuge to a large, stable, ethnic community that anchored "Little Italy" in South Philadelphia. In charting that growth, Juliani also examines conflicts between laity and clergy and between clergy and church hierarchy, as well as the remarkable fifty-six-year career of Isoleri as a spiritual and secular leader. Priest, Parish, and People provides both the details of parish history in Philadelphia and the larger context of Italian-American Catholic history.
"While Priest, Parish, and People is in itself a rich ethnographic story about a most unusual priest, a particular Philadelphia parish, and the growth of parishes to meet the needs of a rapidly growing immigrant population, it is also an important story of the struggle between Irish and Italian cultures in the assimilation process, and an interesting insight into church politics and the workings of the Roman Catholic Church." —William V. D'Antonio, Catholic University of America
"This is a well-written, in-depth study of Philadelphia's Italian Catholic community. Focusing on a parish and its remarkable pastor, it chronicles the progress of an Italian immigrant parish from its earliest days in the mid-nineteenth century to its emergence as the social and religious center for the Italian community in the early twentieth century. For the author, writing this history was clearly a labor of love. He has provided all of us with a chapter in the history of Philadelphia Catholicism that was long overdue." —Jay P. Dolan, author of In Search of an American Catholicism: A History of Religion and Culture in Tension

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780268032654
Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
Publication date: 11/22/2006
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 426
Product dimensions: 6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

RICHARD N. JULIANI is professor of sociology at Villanova University.

Table of Contents

Preface     vii
Introduction     1
The Italian Church in Philadelphia     8
European Politics, American Catholicism, and Italian Immigration     33
Portrait of a Young Priest     46
The Challenge of Leadership     56
Saving the Children     82
Columbus and Other Heroes: The Search for Identity     95
Building Parish and Community     109
The Nineties: New Problems and Solutions     136
The "Italian Problem": Catholic and Protestant Responses     165
A New Century     182
Saving the Faith of Southern Italians     209
Beyond South Philadelphia     229
Final Years of a Priest     259
The Dismemberment of Our Lady of Good Counsel     290
Epilogue: Parish, Priest, and People     309
Notes     325
Index     373

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