The Catholic Church in Mississippi, 1911-1984: A History

By Michael V. Namorato | Go to book overview

Part II
Clergy, Religious, and Laity

Vatican II changed the Catholic Church in a variety of very fundamental ways. Perhaps among the most important was the way the council redefined the church as an entity in and of itself. From this point on, Vatican II proclaimed that the Catholic Church was the "People of God." The concept was to be all-inclusive. Not only popes, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, and religious were to be included in this new perception, but the laity, men, women and children, married and unmarried--all were now part of the "People of God." Thus, as bishops led dioceses in policy making, implementation of church rules and dogmas, and a number of other issues, priests, religious, and the laity would do more than just carry out those decisions. They were all to be actively involved in helping to formulate policies as well as responsible for carrying them out. Such a new perspective was to be applied in all areas of church life. For the Mississippi Catholic Church, this translated into working with, assisting, and helping the bishops in every way possible. Just as Bishops Gunn, Gerow, and Brunini defined their goals and objectives, the clergy, religious, and the laity did their part as well. 1

If there was one characteristic that the state of Mississippi and the Mississippi Catholic Church had in common, it was change. In both the state and the church, change was occurring everywhere in both of their internal and external lives. For the state of Mississippi, those changes crossed all parameters of its existence.

Politically, the state experienced significant changes in its voter makeup as well as in its political preferences. Here, the federal government's growing commitment to civil rights had its long-term effects. On a practical level, this translated very clearly into new patterns of behavior. In 1900, for example, practically no African American voted in Mississippi, given poll taxes, literacy tests, and Jim Crowism. Even by 1960, only 5 percent of the black population was registered to vote. However, as a result of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, all of that changed. By 1984-1985, 76 percent of the African-American population in Mississippi was registered to vote, and Mississippi had a significant number of black officials in state

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The Catholic Church in Mississippi, 1911-1984: A History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xix
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 18
  • Part I - The Hierarchy 21
  • Notes 25
  • 1 - John E. Gunn, 1911-1924 29
  • 2 - Richard O. Gerow: The Natchez Years, 1924-1948 51
  • Notes 68
  • 3 - Richard O. Gerow: The Jackson Years, 1948-1966 75
  • Notes 93
  • 4 - Joseph Bernard Brunini: A Native Son 101
  • 5: Joseph Bernard Brunini 131
  • Part II - Clergy, Religious, and Laity 153
  • 6 - Clergy and Religious, 1911-1984 157
  • 7: Laity 183
  • 8: Outreach (Evangelization) 211
  • 9: Mississippi and Southern Catholicism 243
  • Epilogue 253
  • Notes 258
  • Appendix 1 Native Priests 259
  • Appendix 2 Priests in the Diocese, 1911-1984 261
  • Appendix 3 Irish Priests 285
  • Appendix 4 Religious Orders 289
  • Appendix 5 PARISHES, 1911-1984 293
  • Appendix 6 Schools 297
  • Selected Bibliography 301
  • Index 307
  • About the Author 315
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