Acts of Faith
The Catholic Church in Texas, 1900-1950
Texas History - Religion
6.125 x 9.25, 270 pp.
25 b&w photos., 1 table.
Pub Date: 05/02/2002
Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University
Price:        $39.95 s


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Acts of Faith

The Catholic Church in Texas, 1900-1950

By James Talmadge Moore

The story of the Catholic church in Texas parallels the story of Europeans in the state. But to many people, the early history of the Texas Catholic church is better known than its recent record. Acts of Faith offers a full-bodied account of the Catholic church in Texas during the years from 1900 to 1950. It looks at both the development of the institution and the ways the church dealt with the social issues of the day.

During these years the Texas church, like the rest of the state, faced a rapid growth in population (partly from Mexicans fleeing the political and economic turmoil of revolution) and the need for an increasingly sophisticated organizational structure. It also faced natural disasters such as the 1900 Galveston hurricane, the bigotry of the Ku Klux Klan, and the coming of two world wars.

In Acts of Faith, James Talmadge Moore has mined the reports of the largely untapped Southern Messenger, the state's major Catholic newspaper, for the narrative line. The accounts he finds there form the basis for biographical portraits of the major figures, overviews of the important issues with which the church had to grapple, and understanding of social forces that shaped this major institution's development.

A sequel to Moore's Through Fire and Flood, this is sound institutional history—a look at the institution as institution and a fascinating chronology of church experience. It presents the Catholic church's actions, social stances, and positions on current events. Orphanages, schools, and liturgical practices fill the pages, along with the events of the larger society. For the people who read Moore's earlier volume, this one takes the dramatic story another half-century in time. And for anyone who wants a fuller picture of modern Texas history, the book adds an important chapter.

In 1998 James Talmadge Moore retired as professor of history at North Harris College in Houston and resumed full-time parish work at Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church, which he had served as pastor most of the time since 1984, when he was received into the Catholic priesthood. His Ph.D. in history is from Texas A&M, and the Press published his earlier volume on the nineteenth-century of the Catholic church in Texas, Through Fire and Flood: The Catholic Church in Frontier Texas, 1836–1900, in 1992. He is also the author of Indian and Jesuit: A Seventeenth Century Encounter and many articles.

What Readers Are Saying:

“[Moore] has performed yeoman service in weaving a colorful tapestry from diverse strands provided by one reliable source, The Southern Messenger, which he reinforced with data gleaned from other primary materials. The author competently met the challenge of constructing and reconstructing a history of evolving Catholic diocese within the larger framework of ecclesiastical administration. The author’s writing style is engaging and straightforward. Unquestionably, this sequel volume will make another important contribution to the field of church/religious history in Texas.” --Felix D. Almaráz, Jr., Professor of History, The University of Texas at San A

“Readers will impatiently await a future volume bringing the story to the present.” --East Texas Historical Association

“An informative and engaging study of the Catholic Church in early twentieth-century Texas.” --Catholic Southwest

“Ts volume is engagingly written and one looks forward to its sequel.” --Religious Studies Review

“This well-written narrative of the institutional development of the Roman Catholic Church in Texas is a welcome addition to the current efforts to tell the story of American Catholicism.” --American Catholic Studies

“Needs to be studied by anyone and everyone interested not only in the history of Catholicism in Texas, but also in religion generally throughout the United States. . . . a highly readable writing style based on thorough research. . . . it will stand as the classic work on this subject for some time to come.” --The Catholic Historical Review

“The book will appeal to readers interested in the history of Texas, and it is a handy reference for church historians.” --Western Historical Quarterly

“Taking up chronologically where his earlier book, Through Fire and Flood: The Catholic Church in Frontier Texas, 1836-1900 (Texas A&M University Press, 1992), left off, the author details the growth of the Catholic Church in Texas during the first half of the twentieth century. . . . Through these chapters Moore provides a clear explanation of the historical trajectory of the institutional church in Texas . . . the author paints a clearly detailed picture of fifty years of Texas Catholic history. Individuals familiar with the Texas Catholic leadership will delight in learning more about the complex challenges overcome by individuals like Mother Margaret Mary Healy Murphy, Rev. Monsignor James Martin Kirwin of Galveston, and Archbishop Robert E. Lucy of San Antonio. . . . It will appeal to readers interested in the institutional history of the Catholic Church and provide a wonderful addition to the library of Catholic Churches and organizations.” --Anthony Quiroz, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

“Moore’s book is a welcome addition to Catholic history, and his readers will hope he will produce another volume that will go beyond 1950 and shed light on the present.” --Panhandle-Plains Historical Review

“Clearly written and carefully researched . . . This is a superb institutional history.” --The Journal of American History


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