Many Tongues, One Faith
A History of Franciscan Parish Life in the United States
The history of Franciscan parishes in the United States mirrors the social, religious and cultural shifts brought about by repeated waves of immigrants to the United States during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This study offers a glimpse into the struggles of Franciscan priests, sisters, and laity attempting to live out their faith amidst the challenges of the time: religious bigotry, racial and ethnic strife, and cultural and religious challenges. The Franciscan experience provides an important element in the tapestry of the American experience. Readers of this work will learn about the Franciscan priest who persuaded his fellow Polish immigrants to engage in an ill-fated settlement experiment in Texas. They will learn about Franciscan efforts to evangelize Native Americans, the Menominee at Keshena, Wisconsin, utilizing catechetical material in the natives’ language. Readers will become acquainted with one of the first Italian churches in New York City, St. Anthony of Padua, where a multiethnic parish gave rise to disputes over leadership in the community. In Los Angeles, the parish of St. Lawrence of Brindisi is highlighted, providing an exploration of ministry to an impoverished community located near the epicenter of the 1965 Watts riots. And readers will be transported to the serene setting of rural northern Ohio where a Marian shrine has been the site of dozens of claimed miraculous healings. While the portraits of fourteen Franciscan parishes contained in this work are diverse – geographically, ethnically, and chronologically – they collectively witness to the distinctiveness of the Franciscan charism of embracing poverty, fostering community, offering reconciliation, and serving those on society’s margins. Their story is part of the American story.