The Catholic Church in San Francisco

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XIII (10) start of chapter

Whatever religious indifferentism there may be in other parts of America, there is none in San Francisco among its Irish Catholic population. In their hard struggle for the good things of this life they did not forget their interests in the next; and such was the liberality with which they co-operated with the zeal of their pastors, that, in little more than a dozen years after the new city began to rise above the huts and shanties that once occupied its site, the Church property, including buildings and real estate, was valued at 2,010,000 dollars. This includes the cathedral and five other churches, convents, asylums, and hospitals. Giving Catholics of other nationalities full credit for their liberality, and allowing for the generous assistance afforded by those of different denominations, it is admitted that three-fourths of what has been done for the Church in the city and county of San Francisco has been done by the Irish. In fact, without them little could have been done; but with them everything was possible. It is superfluous to state that the Irish women of San Francisco are famous for their piety and zeal for religion—that, indeed, is characteristic of the race throughout America; but it has been particularly remarked by those who have had opportunities of observation in many of the States, that in few places, if in any, did they notice a greater number of men, in the prime of life, and actively engaged in the pursuits of business, so constant in the performance of their religious duties, as penitents in the confessional, and communicants at the altar, than in this noble city. With every charitable and benevolent undertaking men of this class are instinctively identified, either as leaders and promoters, or as zealous and liberal supporters; and should they shrink from a position too prominent for their modesty, they more than compensate for their sensitiveness by the abundance of their generosity.

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