St. Patrick's is the oldest Roman Catholic parish in Washington, D.C. Since 1794 it has participated in all aspects of the life of the nation's capital, witnessing the city's evolution from a struggling community into a world capital. A history of this congregation provides a particularly useful vantage point from which to trace the development of major social and political issues that have shaped the region and the nation.
As Washington's mother church, St. Patrick's has transcended the usual responsibilities of an American parish to assume a sometimes crucial role in church-state relations, both in national and in local affairs. Its diverse congregation has provided clear-cut and measurable reactions to issues--such as immigration, race relations, and universal education--that have been pivotal in shaping both national policies and the history of the Catholic church in the United States. Debates over such concerns as religious freedom, the cultural isolation of a critical minority, and the social responsibilities of major religious institutions have all had a clear impact on St. Patrick's and have challenged its congregation and leaders in carrying out its mandate to spread the gospel and serve the city and its citizens.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Morris J. MacGregor's narrative traces the history of St. Patrick's from its first years in a new capital, through its triumphal decades as the great downtown parish at the center of a powerful nation, to recent challenges in the face of profound change in the American inner city. Many familiar names and events figure in this history, from Marquis de Lafayette, hero of the Revolution, to Teddy Roosevelt, hero of San Juan Hill; from President Andrew Jackson and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney to Lyndon Johnson and Earl Warren; from St. John Neumann to St. Frances Cabrini.
Because the history of an urban parish contributes valuable insights into the social, economic, and political evolution of urban America, this book is a valuable resource for the study of urban, local, and American social and church history.
PRAISE FOR THE BOOK
Morris J. MacGregor retired in 1992 from his position as acting chief historian for the Department of the Army, after serving thirty-four years as a historian there and in the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is the author of The Integration of the Armed Forces, 1940-1965 (1981) and Soldier Statesmen of the Constitution (1987).