Progress of the Catholic Church in New York

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XXIII (15) start of chapter

We come now to the year 1852, and witness the gigantic stride which the Church has made since 1833, when ten Bishops met at the First Council of Baltimore. Irish and German Catholics had been pouring into the United States by hundreds of thousands; and the 200 Catholics of New York in 1785, and the 35,000 of 1829, had become 200,000 in 1852. Instead of the one archbishop, and ten bishops, of 1833, there were now six archbishops, and twenty-six bishops; while the number of priests, which was about 300 in 1833, had now increased to 1,385, with churches and stations in proportion. We shall see how this advance, great and hopeful as it was, has been far exceeded by the progress made in the short space of the next fourteen years.

Writing of the city of New York of 1853, Bishop Bayley—then Secretary to Archbishop Hughes—says:—'No exertions could have kept pace with the tide of emigration which has been pouring in upon our shores. The number of priests, churches, and schools, rapidly as they have increased, are entirely inadequate to the wants of our Catholic population, and render it imperative that every exertion should be made to supply the deficiency.' Something of the same kind might be said of 1867, though the means are now proportionately greater than they were fifteen years before, not in New York alone, but throughout the United States. Convents, hospitals, asylums, schools, were then, in 1853, rapidly on the increase, the Religious Orders spreading their branches and establishing their houses whenever there was a chance of their bare support, and often, too, braving privations similar to those which Mrs. Seton's infant community endured at Emmettsburg and at Philadelphia in the early days of their existence.

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