Posts Tagged ‘History’
At the start of the 20th century, Italian immigrants were arriving at Ellis Island at the rate of 100,000 a year. Many stayed in New York City, settling in an area that came to be known as “Little Italy.” Life was rough: large families were crowded into tenement apartments, men eked out a living on subsistence wages and they faced prejudice from their neighbors. There were few places they could look for help.
One of them was the Catholic Church. Michael A. Corrigan, the Archbishop of New York, made outreach a priority of his administration, founding Italian parishes throughout the metropolitan area for their benefit. He also assigned some of the best priests in the archdiocese to this work. After asking the New York Jesuits to start a new parish on the Lower East Side, Jesuit Father Nicholas Russo (1845-1902) was picked to head it.
Born in Italy, Russo joined the Jesuits at 17 and studied in France and the United States. After his ordination, he was sent to Boston College as a philosophy professor. Over the next eleven years, he wrote two textbooks and served as acting president of the college. Between 1888 and 1890, he taught in New York and Washington before returning to a Manhattan parish, where he doubled as a speechwriter for Archbishop Corrigan.
Flexibility is a cornerstone of Jesuit life, the readiness to go anywhere and assume any task for what founder St. Ignatius Loyola called “God’s greater glory.” A respected professor and college president, Russo gave up a successful academic career to serve in the tenements. A biographer writes, “It must have been, humanly speaking, no small sacrifice . . . for he had held high positions in Boston and New York and his work had lain almost entirely among the better instructed and wealthy.”
To read more about Fr. Russo and his work with the Italian immigrants of New York City, go to the Patheos.com website.
Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa, the host of “EWTN Live,” recently interviewed Jesuit Father John Padberg, noted historian and director of the Institute of Jesuit Sources based in Saint Louis, Mis., in which he speaks at length about the Society of Jesus, it’s foundation and history.
“I got a chance to go to the Institute that you have up in Saint Louis and see all this material, but so little of it is that well known,” said Fr. Pacwa. “I thought that this might be a great chance to let the institute and the books you make available on spirituality and the history of the Jesuits a little bit better known.”
The segment, which runs almost an hour, features many tidbits of Jesuit history, including:
- Jesuits opened the first schools for the laity.
- Jesuits invented the use of grade levels, which advanced students by testing.
- Jesuits created the school system by founding multiple schools for the laity.
- Blessed Peter Faber was one of the first ecumenicists, working with Protestants soon after the Reformation.
- The Jesuits are the only religious order founded by 10 University graduates.
- St. Francis Xavier was one of the first missionaries to Asia.
- A Jesuit named Ippolito Desideri was the first European missionary to successfully understand and study the Tibetian language and culture.
The pine and oak doors of the rebuilt Brick Chapel were opened to visitors last weekend in Historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland, completing a 15 year fundraising and historically accurate construction effort to bring the chapel back to life. The chapel was initially constructed by the Jesuits in the 1630s, when they arrived as some of the first European settlers to America to assist in forming the new English colony.
When the chapel burned down in 1645, it was rebuilt by the ruling Calvert family of Maryland but the chapel was locked by decree of royal governors from England in the early 1700s. After that ruling, the chapel was eventually dismantled.
“The first time I saw it, it actually brought tears to my eyes,” said Jesuit Father Edward Dougherty of St. Ignatius Church in Port Tobacco, Md., the oldest continually serving Catholic Parish in the U.S. He described the settlers’ actions as “the experiment that was derailed a bit but has never stopped and has grown to what it is today.”
To read more about the opening of the Brick Chapel in Historic St. Mary’s City, visit The Washington Post.
The Jesuit Archive in Canada, a witness to the activity of all the Jesuits who worked both in English and French Canada and its foreign missions since the arrival of the first Jesuits to Canada in 1611, has been joined under one roof in Montréal, to better serve historians, researchers and those interested in Canadian Jesuit history from the 17 century until today. The Archive includes rare books, works of art, documents and publications relating to Canadian Jesuit and early Canadian history.
A celebration of the official opening of the Jesuit Archive in Canada will take place from September 22 – 23 in Montréal. For the schedule of events, please visit jesuit.org.
For more information, (including bios, photographs, and historical material), contact:
• Pierre Bélanger, S.J. – service des communications – les jésuites at:
514-387-2541, ext. 339 – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Céline Widmer – Directrice, Archives des jésuites au Canada at:
514-387-2541, ext. 238 – email: email@example.com
• Erica Zlomislic – Communications Officer – Jesuits in English Canada at:
416-962-4500 ext. 225– email: firstname.lastname@example.org
by Kaitlyn McCarthy
The author Mark Twain once said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.”
While this may not have been the official theme of the “History of Jesuits Coming to North America Institute”, it could have aptly served as one. Organized by the National Jesuit Brothers Committee, the Institute, held over four days at Santa Clara University, illustrated a contrast; both the commonalities and the differences within the Society’s North American history.
Common themes such as missionary spirit, the frontiers and adaptation to local cultures were threaded throughout the talks, but the specific applications were varied and unique. The historical tales and themes ‘rhymed’ with the challenges Jesuits face today, but the frontiers in which they work now are very different.