Progress of Catholicity

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XXVIII (3) start of chapter

Those who look, as I do, to the present and continuous progress of the Catholic Church as that which most intimately concerns and most deeply involves the future of the Irish in America, cannot but regard that progress with feelings of the keenest satisfaction. Though not yet equal to the unparalleled increase of the Catholic population, it is sufficiently so to prevent that loss of faith of which so much has been said, too often in a spirit of exaggeration, and to counteract that tendency to indifferentism which is unhappily to be met with in the States. Since 1861 the progress of the Church has been literally marvellous. Thus, while in 1861 the number of Priests was 2,317, and the churches 2,519, the number of Priests in 1867 is 3,252. and the number of churches 3,500—an increase of nearly 1,000 priests and 1,000 churches in these few years. In the course of the following year there will be about 60 dioceses in the United States; probably in ten years after there will be a necessity for 20 additional sees; and those who live to the year 1900 may behold 100 Mitred Prelates of the Catholic Church of America assembled, if not in the Cathedral of Baltimore, possibly in one of those gorgeous temples which are now rising in the centres of vast Catholic populations, and for rivals to which one must look to France, or Germany, or Italy—to some of those majestic monuments of piety erected by a Prince or a People, a Monarch or a Pope.

A few examples illustrative of individual Dioceses or States will afford a better idea of the general progress of the Church than a summary of the result conveyed in a mere 'total.' Take, for instance, the Diocese of Milwaukee, comprising the State of Wisconsin.

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