RS 231A/HI 231A: American Catholicism

Syllabus- Fall 2002
MW 2:30-3:45 pm
SCI 111


Raymond A. Patterson


JE 148


ex. 2427


Web Page:

Office Hours:


4-5 pm
10-11 am
10-11 am
and by appointment

Course Description:

RS 231A: American Catholicism is an historical overview of the Roman Catholic experience in the United States, divided into four major periods:


The Catholic presence in the New World during the age of exploration and colonial America


The struggles of an immigrant Roman Catholic Church in the period leading up to the Civil War


The challenges to Catholics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century


The American Catholic experience since the Second Vatican Council


Required Texts:

The text for the class, available at the bookstore, is:

Dolan, Jay. The American Catholic Experience. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1992.

Other readings will be made available on Reserve. Students should search the library catalog for the reserve readings, which are organized under my name listed by the title of the articles. Select the title to see the folder number of the article. Please do not mark the Reserve readings when taking notes.

Class Requirements:

Regular attendance is expected of all students. If a student is unable to attend class, he or she should notify the instructor. More than one absence without the instructorís permission will negatively impact the final grade. Frequent absences will result in a failing grade.

Students should be on time for class. Arriving late or leaving during the class period can be disruptive for the instructor and other members of the class. Excessive tardiness will be reflected in a lower grade for class attendance.

Students will be evaluated on the following course work:

Mid-term Exam


Final Exam


Term Paper


Class Participation/Attendance/Papers



Academic Integrity:

Students are expected to adhere to the Academic Integrity Policy established by St. Michaelís College and distributed to all students.

Class Schedule

(The instructor reserves the right to change the schedule. Students will be notified in class of any changes.)

September 4

Class Requirements

Introduction-Christian Cosmology
Late Medieval Roman Catholic Church (ca. 1500)

September 9

Spanish Missions

Dolan, pp. 15-68.

September 11

French Missions

Marie of the Incarnation, "Letters," pp. 221-224; 229-231; 237-258; 262-275.

(on reserve)

Film: Black Robe

September 16

English Reformation
Maryland and the English Colonies

Dolan, pp. 69-97

Related documents:

Act of Supremacy, 1559
Act Against Papists, 1593
Toleration Act, 1689
New England Primer,
New England Primer
Descriptions of "Pope Day"


Stained GlassWindow Image - 21K

Religion and the Founding of the American Republic

September 18

Catholics and the American Revolution

Ellis, Documents I, pp. 128-141.
(on reserve)

September 23

John Carroll and the Origins of the American Church

Dolan, pp. 101-124.

American Mission- Jesuits and John Carroll

September 25

Mission in America

Ellis, Documents II, pp. 202-220, 233-236.
(on reserve)


September 30

Immigrant Church: Irish and German

Dolan 158-169.

October 2

Nativism and the Know-Nothings

Morris, pp. 54-67.


(on reserve)

October 7

Frontier Missions

Abolition Questions


(on reserve)

October 9

Civil War


(on reserve)

October 16

Issac Hecker and Orestes Brownson

Selections from Hecker and Brownson

(on reserve)

October 21

Mid-Term Exam

October 23

Syllabus of Errors and Vatican I


October 28

Industrial Immigration

Catholic Ethos

Dolan 170-194, 204-240.

October 30

Schools Question

Dolan, pp. 262-293.

Schools: The Story of American Public Education

November 4

Americanist Controversy

Dolan, pp. 294-320

November 6

Social Gospel

Fr. D'Agostino and the Winooski Mills

Dolan, pp. 321-346.

November 11

World War I
Nativism Revisited: Klu Klux Klan and Al Smith

Ellis, Documents III
(on reserve- PAT FO59)


November 13

Between the Wars
Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker

Dolan, 384-417.
Dorothy Day, From Union Square to RomeCh 1, "Why" and Ch 12, "Wheat and Cockle"

Film: Entertaining Angels: the Dorothy Day Story

Charles Coughlin
Catholic Worker website

November 18

Catholics and the Media: Legion of Decency, Fulton Sheen, and Thomas Merton

Morris, "On Top of the World," pp. 196-209, 221-227.

November 20

Political Catholics: Anti-Communists and JFK

Vatican II: John Courtney Murray and Religious Freedom

Carey, "Cold War Catholicism," 93-114.

November 25

AAR Convention

(No class today!)

December 2

Catholic Activism: Peace Movement and Civil Rights

African-American Catholics


Term Paper Due

December 4

Asian and Hispanic Catholics


December 9

Profile of American Catholics- 2002


December 11

American Catholics and the Magisterium

Ex Corde Ecclesia and Catholic Higher Education


December 20

Final Exam- 1:00-3:30 pm