July 20, 2011
The book was written by a dozen scholars and compiled by Thomas C. Hunt of the University of Dayton and Timothy Walch of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library. Published by the Alliance for Catholic Education Press at the University of Notre Dame, it focuses on the history of big city Catholic education, highlighting the unique qualities of parochial education in the largest archdioceses in the United States, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Detroit and more. Neiheisel, who teaches political science at St. Mary’s, wrote the chapter on San Antonio titled Latino City Catholicism: Catholic Education in San Antonio.
The chapters reveal both the unique qualities and common threads within the American Catholic educational establishment. The editors asked their team of scholars to consider four factors in compiling their chapters. First was the ethnic mix of the communities, since a considerable percentage of immigrants were Catholic and some ethnic groups were more inclined to support Catholic schools than others. Second, the editors asked about the size and growth of the Catholic population because the pace of growth affected the viability of Catholic schooling. Third, they focused on leadership, particularly the attitudes of the local bishops. Some bishops were ardent supporters of Catholic schools, while others were not. Finally, each scholar was asked to discuss the attitude of the larger community toward Catholicism and Catholic schools in particular.
The dominate message of the book is that each archdiocese was an educational island unto itself yet, despite many differences the schools in these cities shared the common goals of preserving the faith of Catholic children and preparing them for productive lives in American society.
Urban Catholic Education is available by mail from the Alliance for Catholic Education Press at the University of Notre Dame. Copies may be ordered online through Amazon.com.