The Catholic Church in America

John Francis Maguire

The Catholic Church—The Irish—The Church not afraid of Freedom—A Contrast—Who the Persecutors were—The American Constitution—Washington's Reply to the Catholics—The First Church in New York—Boston in 1790—Universality of the Church—Early Missions—Two Great Orders—Mrs. Seton—Mrs. Seton founds her Order—Early Difficulties and Privations—Irish Sisters

TO their countrymen throughout the world the spiritual condition of the Irish in America cannot be otherwise than a matter of the deepest interest, inasmuch as their material progress in the New World must of necessity, and to a considerable extent, depend on the moral and religious influence brought to bear upon them and their children. The great mass of the Irish in the United States, as in Ireland, are of the Catholic faith: therefore, in order to ascertain what is the spiritual condition of the Irish in America, what the spiritual provision for them, we must enquire as to the position and prospects of the Catholic Church in that country.

But first, before doing so, it is necessary to refer to statements which have been made by some, and relied on by others, as to the alleged falling away of the Irish from the faith of their fathers. Were this statement true, it should be a matter of regret to every Irishman worthy of that name; for nothing could be more calamitous to the race, or more damaging to the honour of their country, than the loss of that which maintains over the Irish heart the most salutary of all influences. Happily for the Irish in America, these statements are the result of exaggerated alarm, or reckless invention.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America