San Antonio – Are Catholic schools in San Antonio different from those in New York, Cincinnati, and Los Angeles? Steve Neiheisel, Ph.D., professor and director of the undergraduate political science program at St. Mary’s University, says yes! Neiheisel was asked to write a chapter on San Antonio for inclusion in Urban Catholic Education: Tales of Twelve American Cities, a newly published book by the Alliance for Catholic Education Press at the University of Notre Dame.
Neiheisel is one of twelve scholars that contributed to Urban Catholic Education by writing about the unique qualities of parochial education in the countries largest, and arguably very diverse, archdioceses: Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore in the East; Cincinnati, St. Louis, Detroit and Chicago in the Midwest; and New Orleans, San Antonio, Los Angeles and San Francisco in the South and West.
Neiheisel’s chapter “Latino< City Catholicism: Catholic Education in San Antonio” examines the past and current parochial school system in San Antonio by placing it in a historical and cultural context. Why do San Antonio’s Catholic churches and schools have strong Mexican cultural ties? And what does this have to do with the “rise, fall, and resurgence of the Mexican Catholic community?” It may seem unrelated, but Neiheisel’s chapter also explores the impact of San Antonio being left out of the industrial revolution and the impact that had on the parochial schools. Yet thanks to some religious orders like the Society of Mary (Marianist), who established St. Mary’s University, higher education has flourished in San Antonio.
Neiheisel’s examination is in-depth and provides a good background for those hoping to understand more thoroughly not only on how San Antonio’s Catholic schools were formed, but why. His chapter, like the other eleven in the book, uniquely discusses the impact of Catholic immigration, the size and growth of the cities’ Catholic population and the attitudes of the local bishops towards education. Jay Dolan, author of The American Catholic Experience and professor of history emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, says the book provides an “invaluable resource for anyone interested in the history of education in urban America.”
The essays by academic scholars from each of the 12 cities were compiled by historians Thomas C. Hunt of the University of Dayton and Timothy Walch of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.
Neiheisel has taught political science at St. Mary’s for 20 years. He is a professor of Public Leadership and chairman of the Political Science Department at Saint Mary’s University, adjunct graduate professor of Nonprofit Leadership at the University of Dayton, and adjunct graduate professor of Organizational Leadership at the College of Mount Saint Joseph in Cincinnati. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree and Masters in Business Administration from Xavier University in Cincinnati and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis.
Prior to his teaching career, Neiheisel held management positions at two Fortune 100 companies and was the executive assistant to retired United States Senator Thomas F. Eagleton. He is the recipient of multiple awards for teaching excellence, author of more than forty publications, and is a much sought-after public speaker, presenter of leadership development seminars. Neiheisel is also serves on numerous local and national nonprofit boards. His current service positions include the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, Communicare Health Centers, San Antonio Chamber Music Society, and the San Antonio Catholic Archdiocese School Council.