California, The Catholic Church in
CALIFORNIA, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
Admitted to the Union in 1850 as the 31st state, California is located on the Pacific coast, is bounded on the north by Oregon; on the east by Nevada and Arizona, from which it is separated by the Colorado River; on the south by Mexico. Sacramento is the capital, and Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Fresno and San Diego are the largest cities. The most populous state in the United States, the population in 2001 was 33,988,545, of which 9,754,947 (approximately 30 percent) were Catholic. The only state to have two archepiscopal sees, there are twelve dioceses in all. In addition to the metropolitan see, the Province of San Francisco includes Sacramento, Oakland, Stockton, Santa Rosa and San Jose as suffragans. The Province of Los Angeles includes San Diego, Monterey, Fresno, Orange and San Bernardino as suffragans.
The Era of the Native Missions. Although it had been discovered by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542 and revisited by Sebastián Vizcaíno in 1602, California was not colonized until 1769, when the Church was established in the territory. The conquest, ordered by José de Gálvez, Spanish visitor-general in Mexico (New Spain), had for its purpose the protection of Mexico's northern borders against possible Russian aggression. Spain desired a bloodless conquest and from the very beginning enlisted the Franciscan missionaries of the Apostolic College of San Fernando, Mexico City, then laboring in Lower California (Mexico), to cooperate spiritually and to implant the mission system among the indigenous peoples. Gálvez and Junípero serra, OFM, president of the Lower California Missions, worked out relationships between the military and the missionaries in the southern peninsula. San Fernando was to supply the missionaries. The pious fund, which had been created by the Jesuits and administered by the government after their expulsion in 1767, was used to defray the expenses of founding missions and to pay the salaries of the missionaries. Two military and naval expeditions were sent to occupy the ports of San Diego and Monterey. Gaspar de Portolá was named military leader. All forces reached San Diego by July 1, and on July 16, 1769, Serra established the first mission at San Diego.
Franciscan Missionaries. Between 1769 and 1823, 21 missions were established in California, nine under Serra, nine more under Fray Fermín Francisco de Lasuén, and the last three under his successors. They were San Diego (1769); San Carlos, Monterey-Carmel (1770); San Antonio and San Gabriel (1771); San Luis Obispo (1772); San Francisco and San Juan Capistrano (1776); Santa Clara (1777); San Buenaventura (1782); Santa Barbara (1786); Purísima Concepción (1787); Santa Cruz and Soledad (1791); San José, San Juan Bautista, San Miguel, and San Fernando (1797); San Luis Rey (1798); Santa Inés (1804); San Rafael (1817); and San Francisco Solano (1823). Several submissions, such as San Pedro y San Pablo, Santa Margarita, and San Antonio de Pala, were established also. Four presidios, each with a chapel, were founded at San Diego, Monterey, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara. Three civilian colonies were established at San Jose (1777), Los Angeles (1781), and Branciforte (1797). These missions, presidios, pueblos, and intervening ranches were the only Christian settlements in California between 1769 and 1840. All were administered spiritually by the Fernandino missionaries. Serra, called the Apostle of California, experienced misunderstandings and altercations with the military authorities. Disputes arose over church asylum, clerical appointments, military guards, postal frankage, native alcaldes (overseers), immorality of soldiers, and a host of minor questions.
The history of the missions in California between 1769 and 1840 is understandable only in the light of the royal patronage of the Indies granted to the Spanish kings by popes Alexander VI and Julius II and the accompanying abuses that grew out of the exercise of that grant in later times (see patronato real). During the 18th century especially, Carlos III and IV tended toward state absolutism in ecclesiastical affairs.
Serra's successors were Fermín Francisco de Lasuén (1785–1803), Estevan Tapis (1803–12), José Señan (1812–15, 1820–23), Mariano Payeras (1815–20), Narciso Durán (1824–27, 1830–36), José Bernardo Sánchez (1827–30), and José Joaquín Jimeno (1839–53). In 1812 the office of commissary-prefect was established whereby jurisdiction was divided between him and the president. The former was assigned the duty of transacting the business affairs of the missionaries with the territorial government, while the president attended to the disciplinary matters relating to the missionaries. Thus the commissary-prefect ranked with the president in matters pertaining to native missions, while the president held the position of vicar forane of the bishop and as such was head of the Church in the territory. The office of commissary-prefect was held by Vicente Francisco de Sarriá (1812–18, 1824–30), Mariano Payeras (1818–23), Narciso Durán (1836–46), and José Joaquín Jimeno (1846–53). Beginning in 1833 the northern missions of California were administered by the Franciscan missionaries of the Apostolic College of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Zacatecas, while the southern missions were retained by the missionaries of San Fernando College. The first commissary-prefect of the Zacatecan missionaries was Francisco gar cÍa diego y moreno, OFM, who in 1840 became the first bishop of California; the first president was Fray Rafael Moreno.
When California was first missionized, the territory belonged to no diocese; the nearest bishops resided at Guadalajara and Durango, Mexico. On May 7, 1779, Pius VI created the Diocese of Sonora, which included the districts of Sonora, Sinaloa, and both Californias. Antonio de los Reyes, OFM, was appointed the first bishop of the extensive territory on Dec. 12, 1780. Consecrated in 1782, he arrived in Sonora in 1783 and made his headquarters at Alamos. Neither he nor any of his successors visited Upper California. Lasuén was the first mission president who had ecclesiastical relations with the Sonoran bishops. From these bishops Lasuén and his successors received the powers of vicar forane and military vicar until 1840.
The California missions were manned by 146 Franciscans until 1840, two serving at each mission. The great majority were Spaniards, the rest of Mexican birth. The missionaries were required to give ten years of service, though many served longer. All were volunteers. Traveling expenses and supplies for the journey were paid for from the royal exchequer. Two of the missionaries, Luis Jayme at San Diego, and Andrés Quintana at Santa Cruz, were murdered by the native tribes. Four more, Francisco Garcés, Juan Barreneche, Juan Diaz, and Matías Moreno, of the Apostolic College of Santa Cruz, Querétaro, were massacred along the Colorado River at Yuma in 1781.
Missions. The Franciscan missionaries sought to attract the native peoples by kindness and gifts to Christian villages built alongside the missions, where they lived for a period as catechumens, later permanently as neophytes. Having accepted Christianity, they were required to remain at the missions and to accept the orderly regime. If they became runaways they were sought out and brought back. At the missions the natives were entirely under the jurisdiction of the missionaries except in certain criminal matters when the military took over. The Franciscans, in charge of both their spiritual and temporal formation, were to instruct, educate, and discipline their charges.
The law envisaged a complete transformation in ten years, when the mission towns would become pueblos of freed, formed natives after the pattern of the civic entities of the Europeans.
In practice, the day-to-day working out of mission affairs was determined at three levels: locally between the governor and the mission president; at the intermediate level between the viceroy and the guardian of the College of San Fernando; and at the highest level between the commissary-general of the Franciscans at Madrid and the king and his royal Council of the Indies. Throughout the period of missionization everything was done on a cooperative basis between Church and State under the patronato real system, and thus little independent action was allowed the missionaries. The system resulted in frequent misunderstandings, conflicts, and disputes. Thus the time, the place, and the manner of founding a mission were decided both by the civil and religious arms. The name of the mission was bestowed by the viceroy.
In the beginning the missions were crude, frontier settlements composed of buildings in log-cabin style, with grass or earthen roofs and dirt floors. These originals were followed by adobe structures with tile roofs and floors. In some cases stone churches, such as those at Carmel and Santa Barbara, resulted in the final stage of building. In several cases the site of a mission was changed in favor of better economic conditions or to separate it from too close proximity to a presidio. Because of growth in the number of Christians or because of damage to a mission by physical factors, such as earthquake, a number of succeeding churches appeared, including four at Santa Barbara and seven at Carmel. Usually a mission was built in quadrangular shape to form a compound, which included the church, the missionaries' residence, a dormitory for single girls and women, workshops, and storage rooms. At first the natives, turned Christians, built their new villages by the missions in the traditional manner of native huts, which were followed by sturdier structures in the Spanish fashion. Thus at Santa Barbara there were 252 family dwellings made of adobe with tile roofs, with a door and window, built along straight streets.
The average day at a mission—and all were governed in the same manner—was regulated according to the system that had been followed earlier in Texas and in the Sierra Gorda of Mexico. The natives rose at dawn and attended Mass, during which they recited the doctrina, (see encomienda-doctrina) a set form of the principal prayers and articles of faith, after which breakfast was served and the work of the day apportioned. The noonday meal was followed by a siesta; and afternoon work was followed by prayers in church. Evenings were free for rest or amusements. The schools were primarily of a practical nature, where pupils learned trades. It has been estimated that about 50 trades were taught, the principal occupations being farming and animal husbandry. Next came the making of adobes and tiles, spinning and weaving, stonecutting and setting, tanning, shoe and harness making, the fashioning of candles and soap, and the exercise of other trades and crafts that tended to make a mission self-sustaining. Most important at each mission was the irrigation system, bringing water for domestic and agricultural purposes to the mission and its fields, by which the waters of a nearby stream were harnessed by dams, aqueducts, reservoirs, filters, and fountains. Music and choral singing were cultivated at the missions, bands of musicians being formed and taught by the padres, a type of activity to which the natives took readily. Fray Narciso Durán of San José and Santa Barbara was the greatest of the friar musicians. Other missionaries, such as Buenaventura Sitjar of San Antonio and Felipe Arroyo de la Cuesta of San Juan Bautista, became expert linguists, while Gerénimo Boscana became the ethnologist of Mission San Juan Capistrano. Francisco palÓu of San Francisco was California's first historian and biographer. All the missions had their libraries; the central archive at Mission San Carlos, Carmel, was later transferred to Santa Barbara.
Besides participating in the functions of the liturgical year, wherein Corpus Christi and Holy Week were colorfully celebrated, the Native Americans at Christmastide produced the Pastores, the traditional Christmas play of Mexico. They were given frequent vacations, being allowed to visit their relatives in their native towns, and were permitted to scour the mountains for wild berries and seeds. At the missions whatever was produced was conserved for the common good and apportioned out by the missionaries according to need. Physical punishment such as the lash, stocks, and shackles was given for the serious infraction of laws.
When Mexico became independent of Spain in 1821, California became part of the republic. Meanwhile the condition of the missions deteriorated since they had to supply the military with food and clothing during the struggle and afterward, a burden that became oppressive both to the missionaries and the natives. The missions were secularized in 1833 by the Mexican Congress; temporal control was placed in the hands of lay commissioners, and the natives were emancipated. Conditions worsened until finally the missions, except for the churches and direct church property, were sold in the
1840s. Looking back to the period between 1769 and 1845, by which time most of the missions were disbanded, the missionaries baptized about 99,000 persons in California, the great majority being Native Americans. They blessed 28,000 marriages and gave Christian burial to 74,000 persons.
The Mexican Era (1821–48). With the 19th century and especially after the transition to Mexican authority, a new period began in California Catholic history. The Spanish had begun to populate their borderlands in the 18th century by giving large land grants to settlers, more than 700 grants totaling nearly eight million acres, between 1734 and 1736. Mexican officials continued the program, attracting a number of norteamericanos who sometimes embraced Roman Catholicism in order to gain Mexican citizenship. Many of the owners, known as Californios, became socially and economically prominent. Through their perpetuation of family-centered devotions and rituals as well as the acquisition of religious objects, paintings of saints or religious figures, statues, and crucifixes, they accounted for an important part of California's ongoing Catholic identity.
Organizational lines of Catholic life began to be drawn more sharply. On May 7, 1779, Pius VI created the Diocese of Sonora, Sinaloa and Ambas (both Baja and
Alta) Californias and in 1780 placed Franciscan Antonio de los Reyes as the first bishop. After his consecration in 1782, he took up residence in Alamos in 1783. Neither he nor his successors ever visited Alta California. They left practical administrative details to Father Fermin Lasuén, OFM, and his successors who had inherited the title of Father President of the California Missions after the death of Junipero Serra.
The next important organizational event came on April 27, 1840, when Pope Gregory XVI created the Diocese of Ambas (Both) Californias (Baja and Alta) and appointed as bishop Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno, O.F.M. (1785–1846). Diego y Moreno was consecrated on Oct. 4, 1840 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Diego y Moreno established his headquarters at Santa Barbara, and appointed a vicar forane to oversee affairs in Baja California. The new bishop, like many of his successors, was constantly short of both money and priests to effectively rebuild a Catholic presence in the aftermath of the secularization of the missions. The shortage of money became even more acute after Mexican government confiscated the Pious Fund that had been an important source of revenue for the Church in California. An effort to impose a system of tithing on the wealthy rancheros failed miserably. The withdrawal of the Franciscans caused a shortage of priests to minister to people in the settled pueblos and in the scattered settlements. To remedy the situation Diego y Moreno sought to bring more priests from Mexico. In 1842 he established a seminary at Santa Barbara, later moved Mission Santa Ines, that reaped a harvest of three priests in January 1846.
After Diego y Moreno's death in 1846, his assistant Jose Maria de Jesus Gonzalez Rubio O.F.M. (1804–75) tended to the administration of ecclesiastical affairs in both Upper and Lower California. That same year marked the beginning of the Mexican-American War that ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo that transferred California to the United States in 1848. About the same time, traces of gold were found in the mill run of John Augustus Sutter at Coloma, and by the end of 1848 and into 1849 the Gold Rush was on. People from every corner of the world came to Northern California to strike it rich. Although few had their dreams fulfilled, the effect of this huge migration accelerated the development of California into an American province ready for admission to the Federal Union by 1850.
CALIFORNIA IN THE UNITED STATES
The Gold Rush. In the wake of the Gold Rush "instant cities" began to develop in the northern part of the state. San Francisco grew into a major metropolis. Sacramento, Marysville, Stockton, and other access points to the mines were soon thronged with eager argonauts, prospectors and business entrepreneurs. Although it was difficult to develop a stable presence among the transient gold-seekers, assorted priests from Oregon and elsewhere arrived to minister to people in the cities. One such, Dominican Peter Augustine Anderson, celebrated the Mass in Sacramento in August 1850. Other priests provided sacramental ministry to pockets of Catholics in the supply depot towns of Marysville and Stockton. Catholics built a new church of St. Francis of Assisi in San Francisco in 1849.
Reports from Rubio, as well as reports from various missionary priests who were sent to help the Catholic cause in California reached the ears of bishops in the East who in turn transmitted them to the Congregation for the propagation of the faith and the pope. About the time California entered the union in 1850 Pope Pius IX invited Dominican Charles Montgomery to accept an appointment as bishop of a new California diocese. When Montgomery refused, the pontiff appointed Spanish
Dominican Joseph Sadoc alemany to the newly created diocese of Monterey in Upper California. Bishop Alemany arrived in San Francisco in December 1850 and for the next few years alternated between San Francisco and Monterey. On July 29, 1853, Rome appointed Alemany the first archbishop of San Francisco, making Monterey suffragan see. The boundaries of the Monterey diocese extended south from the city of Gilroy to the Mexican border, and in 1854 the Holy See appointed Vincentian Thaddeus Amat (1811–78) as bishop. Like Alemany before him, Amat quit Monterey in favor of a larger city and in 1859 he moved his episcopal residence to Los Angeles. The diocese was known as the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles until 1922.
The growth of Catholic life in northern California continued unabated throughout the 1850s, and as early as 1858 Alemany began to petition Roman authorities for a further subdivision of his see. After much deliberation, the Holy See created a vicariate at the city of Marysville, near the Yuba River, and in 1861 named Irish-born Eugene O'Connell (1815–91) as the vicar apostolic. O'Connell had served briefly in the San Francisco see, heading the fledgling seminary still in existence at Mission Santa Ines and later as pastor of Mission Dolores. He had returned to Ireland in 1854 and served as the dean of All Hallows College in Ireland where he sent many a young priest to the California missions. O'Connell's vicariate originally encompassed much of California and Nevada north of the 39th parallel and also extended into Utah. In 1866, the far eastern boundaries were adjusted and Utah detached. In 1868 the Vicariate of Marysville gave way to diocesan status at the hydraulic mining town of Grass Valley in 1868. O'Connell would remain as bishop until 1884. Eventually, the Grass Valley jurisdiction was transferred to Sacramento.
Personnel and financial needs were perennial problems in California where the growing population outran local resources. To resolve these problems, California's early bishops turned to the generosity of European Catholics, who sent money, church goods and decorative objects for Catholic institutions. The Society for the Propagation of the Faith in Lyons and Paris was the recipient of many of these requests and California bishops wrote regularly and visited headquarters seeking additional funds for their growing missions.
The need for money motivated Archbishop Alemany to pursue the matter of the Pious Fund which had been frozen by the Mexican government. Claiming a share of these moneys by virtue of their inheritance of the old mission churches, Alemany pressed his claim against Mexico and won an initial favorable judgement in 1875. Archbishop Patrick Riordan (1841–1914) again pressed the issue before the newly established Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague Tribunal. In 1902 this body decided in favor of the California bishops and a trickle of payments began but stopped again during the Mexican Revolutionary turmoil of the 1910s. A final resolution of the claim was made only in 1966.
Recruiting personnel proved to be challenging as well. Amat had only 16 priests to serve his 80,000-square-mile diocese in 1855. O'Connell had only four priests for the vast expanses of the Vicariate of Grass Valley. Alemany and Amat both had tried to establish seminaries in their respective dioceses, but the enterprises faltered. California was compelled to rely on foreign clergy throughout much of its history. All three bishops welcomed a regular flow of Irish clergy throughout the 19th century. In 1898, the Archdiocese of San Francisco built its own seminary in Menlo Park and welcomed candidates from all over the state, and thus began to reverse the tide of Irish clerical dominance in California. In 1939 the Archdiocese of Los Angeles opened its major seminary at Camarillo, California. Only the Diocese of Sacramento continued to import Irish priests as the mainstay of its clerical force down through the 1960s.
Religious orders of men and women came to supplement the ministerial contingent in California. In 1850, Italian Jesuits arrived in San Francisco and would create a popular academy and college that would establish the first stirrings of higher education for Catholics in the state. In 1851 the Jesuits began Santa Clara College, the first of a network of Catholic colleges and universities that would enhance the Catholic presence in the state. Likewise, the Christian Brothers came to California in 1868 and established St. Mary's College. Alemany's own Dominican Order established a house in Benicia. Passionist Peter Maganotto helped to build Marysville's St. Joseph Church and in 1862 brought over members of his community from Italy. The Congregation of the Precious Blood opened a popular college in Rohnerville. Vincentians entered California in 1865. German Franciscans came to California and re-established the presence and visibility of the Friars Minor as a force in California religious life. Basing themselves at Mission Santa Barbara they developed active ministries among the state's German-speaking communities. Other groups of religious men, Marists, Paulists, Claretians, Salvatorians and others added to the medley.
Religious women were also actively recruited by Alemany and his counterparts. In 1850, he brought with him Mother Mary of the Cross Goemaere who helped to establish the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur came in 1851 and created a popular academy in Marysville and later a College in Belmont. The Daughters of Charity arrived in 1852 in San Francisco and in 1856 started a house in Los Angeles. The Irish Sisters of the Presentation came in 1854, destined for Sacramento; they decided instead to put down roots in San Francisco. The Sisters of Mercy from Kinsale, Ireland, were recruited by Alemany. Mother Mary Baptist Russell led the contingent of sisters who arrived in San Francisco in 1854. Devoting themselves to education and health care, the Sisters of Mercy soon branched out into other areas of California, establishing themselves in Sacramento in 1857 and founding an orphanage in Grass Valley in 1864. In 1870 the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet also came to southern California. In 1871, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary arrived in Los Angeles. Both of these groups were to exercise a powerful influence over the development of Catholic education on every level.
Catholic growth in San Francisco took place despite the fact that there had been anti-Catholic incidents during the vigilante turmoil of the 1850s and the election of Know-Nothing Governor J. Neely Johnson in 1856. These incidents, and other difficulties with the American Protective Association during the 1890s and the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, suggest a certain pattern of anti-Catholic sentiment. Catholics in California suffered comparatively mild forms of intolerance from militant Protestants. Political advancement was not barred to Catholics. The first governor of the state, Peter Burnett, was a Roman Catholic convert. The main difficulty that Catholics experienced in California was state taxation of their institutions. The legislature of 1852 had exempted hospitals, churches, cemeteries, and schools from taxes, but when Californians gathered to rewrite their constitution in 1878, this tax exemption was stripped away. In 1901, the tax levy on church buildings was lifted, and likewise taxation of private colleges was ended in 1914. In 1926 and again in 1933, Catholic Californians in union with other private school advocates sought to lift the tax burden from private elementary and high schools through the initiative process. These efforts failed at the ballot box and would not be successful until 1952.
In response to nativist and other pressures a solid tradition of Catholic journalism developed in the Golden State. In 1858, the "Irish and Catholic" weekly the Monitor made its first appearance. Initially an independent Catholic weekly owned and edited by laymen James Marks, Patrick J. Thomas and James Hamill, the Monitor eventually came under the control of the bishops of California, who used it as a medium for the exchange of information and the creation of a more unified Catholic identity. Heavily Irish in its orientation, it shared news of Irish conditions abroad and also information about Catholic life and growth in California. The Monitor would be the first of many California Catholic newspapers that would develop in tandem with the growth of various dioceses throughout the state. In 1895, the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles began the Catholic Tidings, and in 1908 Sacramento began the Catholic Herald.
California life in the late 19th century was decisively transformed by the advent of the Transcontinental Railroad. With its western terminus at Sacramento, the Central Pacific (later renamed the Southern Pacific) brought significant economic vitality to California. Railroad development stimulated a growing agricultural economy in the Central Valley (a 435-mile stretch of land extending from Redding to Bakersfield), and water projects stabilized and redistributed the precious water resources of the region. The railroad created new communities such as Fresno, and older towns like Sacramento, the state capital since 1854, and Stockton were revitalized. In the late 19th century, a Catholic presence began to rise in response to these new economic realities. In 1886, the Holy See approved the transfer of the Diocese of Grass Valley to Sacramento where Bishop Patrick Manogue (1829–1895) undertook the building of the mammoth Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, designed by architect Bryan Clinch.
There was corresponding growth in southern California beginning in the 1880s, stimulated in part by the railroad and in part by the discovery of oil. Until that point, Los Angeles still retained elements of the old Californios culture. Bishop Amat struggled to "Americanize and Romanize" his flock, insisting on uniformity and obedience to episcopal authority. In 1876, he built St. Vibiana's Cathedral near the Old Plaza in Los Angeles (the site of Los Angeles' Our Lady, Queen of the Angels Church and the center of Catholic life in the old pueblo.) The land-boom of the 1880s, however, brought large numbers of Protestants of various denominations from the Midwest who challenged the old Catholic culture. Despite the dominance of WASP elite in Los Angeles society and politics, Catholics nonetheless held their own and continued to grow.
California's Asian Catholic Missions. Ethnic diversity became a fact of life in Catholic Los Angeles and San Francisco as elsewhere in the state. Bishops, sometimes reluctantly, gave permission to establish ethnic or national parishes to accommodate the spiritual, cultural and devotional needs of newly arrived immigrants. While many of the German, Italian, Portuguese, Mexican and Filipino immigrants were Catholic, the presence of large numbers of non-Christian Asians such as the Chinese and Japanese presented a different kind of challenge for the Church. Chinese gold miners had come during the rush. Hundreds of Chinese workers had also been imported to build the railroads. After the railroad was completed, the Workingman's Party stirred bitter anti-Chinese sentiments. The problem for the Church stemmed from fact that many of the party's members were Irish Catholics, including Denis Kearney, one of the party's organizers. Even though Archbishop Alemany sought to distance the Church from the Workingman's Party, the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Chinese was strained, if not embittered, for many years. Short-lived efforts to evangelize the Chinese were made in the early 1850s by the Chinese priest Thomas Cian, but he failed to make any headway.
In 1902, a successful mission to the Chinese was established by the Paulist Fathers in San Francisco, operating from Old St. Mary's Cathedral, located adjacent to San Francisco's Chinatown. The increasing number of Chinese who embraced Catholicism resulted in the establishment of a Chinese Catholic parish at Old Saint Mary's Cathedral, and a parochial school for Chinese Catholic students. Similar outreach to the Japanese was spearheaded by a former missionary and later bishop Albert Breton in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento.
TWENTIETH CENTURY DEVELOPMENTS
The growth of the Catholic population between 1900 and 1950 necessitated the creation of new dioceses. In the south, with the growth of the entertainment and oil industries, Los Angeles began to rival San Francisco as a commercial and cultural center. During the episcopate of John J. Cantwell (1874–1947) the Catholic population of Los Angeles soared from 178,233 in 1917 to 601,200 at his death 30 years later. Beginning in 1922, the Holy See began to subdivide the vast interior of California, creating the Diocese of Monterey-Fresno out of counties plucked from the dioceses of Sacramento and Los Angeles and the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Irish-born John B. MacGinley (1871–1969) was installed as the first bishop of the new see. In 1936, Roman authorities detached the southern part of the Los Angeles diocese to create a new diocese at San Diego, headed by Charles Francis Buddy (1887–1966). In that same year, Rome elevated the rapidly growing Los Angeles jurisdiction to metropolitan status, thereby making California the only state with two archepiscopal sees.
San Francisco's former preeminence among California dioceses was not only affected by the demographic realities of California Catholic life, but also by the disastrous earthquake and fire that nearly wiped out the city in April 1906. Twelve churches were totally destroyed, and others, including the recently opened archdiocesan seminary at Menlo Park, badly damaged. Meanwhile San Francisco provided an important forum for Irish patriots Michael Davitt, Eamon de Valera, and others who visited and collected funds to support the cause of Irish independence. A San Francisco priest, Peter Christopher Yorke (1864–1925) attained prominence in city affairs, not only as eloquent defender of Irish rights, but also as a prominent journalist and public orator. His rise to fame came during his years as the editor of the Monitor when he attacked the American Protective Association with vigor. Establishing himself as a friend of the working class, he supported the rising labor organizations of San Francisco in the early Progressive period. He waged vigorous public duels with Irish Catholic politicians such as James Duval Phelan and journalists like Sacramento's C. K. McClatchy, of whom he disapproved as much for their "apostasy" as their positions on issues. Yorke waded into one of the most divisive controversies in San Francisco history, when he decried the prosecution of Abraham Ruef and Mayor Edward Schmitz in the Graft Trials of 1908–10, arguing that the trials were merely a front for the force of capital to destroy working class rights. Yorke's was the most prominent Catholic voice in California for nearly a generation.
In the early 20th century the Church felt the effects of an organizational revolution brought on by a combination of new prescriptions promulgated in the 1917 Code of Canon Law and a deliberate emulation of the techniques of modern business. Catholic operations became less informal and more centralized and bureaucratized. Strong bishops like Archbishops Edward Hanna (1860–1944) and John J. Mitty of San Francisco (1884–1961), John J. Cantwell of Los Angeles, and Patrick Keane (1872–1928) of Sacramento implemented their will through equally strong chancellors and vicars general. Centralized operations headquartered in diocesan chancery offices oversaw with even greater care the day-to-day dealings of the see, the individual parishes and institutions and the activities of priests and religious. Particular scrutiny was given to financial matters and in San Francisco the Church set up an archdiocesan banking system into which they compelled parishes to place their surplus funds. Similar kinds of centralizing activity was felt in the area of Catholic Charities with each diocese establishing a central bureau to oversee the delivery of social provision and also monitoring legal issues related to child care and protection.
Growth of the Mexican Catholic Community. The restrictions placed on European immigration in the early 1920s by the United States government marked the end of one era and the beginning of another. In California, labor shortages created by the new laws and the increasing availability of reclaimed farmland due to private and government development projects led to an important increase in the number of Mexicans living and working in California. While the prospect of work in the United States was an important magnet for Mexican migration, likewise revolutionary upheavals that began in the 1910s and resumed from 1926 to 1929 had a special impact on Catholics. Many fled what they considered to be the anti-Catholic policies of revolutionary governments and among the emigres were scores of bishops, priests and religious who found sanctuary in the United States. Agribusiness welcomed these workers who performed the backbreaking tasks required to plant, harvest and process fruits and vegetables. By 1928, Los Angeles was the second largest Mexican city in the world. Mexican immigration to the United States was only slowed by the Great Depression. However in 1942, the United States government resumed the importation of Mexican laborers for farms and factories in the wake of war-time labor shortages. This Bracero program lasted until 1964, but Latino immigration to California continued. Statistics from the 2000 census indicate that Hispanics and people of color make up the majority of the Golden State's population.
Since most Mexicans were Catholics, efforts to provide a stable and effective ministry to them began in most California dioceses. As the contours of this ministry emerged, church leaders sought to provide religious instruction, validate Mexican marriages, provide some social services and interdict the efforts of Protestant evangelicals to convert Mexican Catholics. In Los Angeles the time-tested vehicle of the ethnic parish was used and between 1923 and 1928 twelve Mexican parishes were established. Some of them were staffed by religious orders like the Claretians who had large numbers of Spanish-speaking members. In Sacramento, efforts were spearheaded by a priest, Father Stephen Keating, who worked with two laypersons, Federico Falcon and Magdalena Martinez, to establish a structure and visibility for work with Mexicans. In San Francisco, outreach to Mexicans took similar forms along with the creation of a Spanish Mission Band to work among migrant and bracero field workers. In the training of clergy, Los Angeles seminarians were required to learn enough Spanish to administer the sacraments. In the exchange that took place between an Anglo-Irish clergy and the Spanish-speaking population a complex process of assimilation and further cultural definition took place over the years. The closeness of Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries meant a continual replenishment of the language and culture of Latino peoples and an ever increasing demand for bilingual parishes and services. Likewise the contours of Latino spirituality: the particular forms for the celebration of religious festivals, devotion to Mary, the cult of the saints and the relationship to the more structured and bureaucratic elements of church life have also had an important effect on the development of Catholic life in California.
African-American Catholics. African-American Catholic life also began to manifest itself, especially after World War I. Archbishop Cantwell opened parishes for African-American Catholics in 1922 and 1927. In 1938, St. Benedict the Moor parish opened in San Francisco. African-American Catholics organized more slowly in Sacramento. A further influx of African-American Catholics took place as military men and women settled in California during and after World War II.
Great Depression and its Aftermath. The Great Depression hit California hard, especially after 1931. The collapse of agricultural prices in particular had created serious unemployment and privation in the state. Bands of homeless men and women roamed from place to place, with a particularly poignant stretch of tents and makeshift shelters in public view down Highway 99, which traversed the center of the Central Valley. Church charities could do little to truly alleviate the suffering. In the political radicalism of the moment, many Catholics might have been tempted to vote for the Democratic candidate for governor, Upton Sinclair, the well-known opponent of the meat packing industry and an avowed socialist, were it not for the anti-religious statements he had penned throughout his career, many of them directly attacking or ridiculing the Catholic church.
But the state rebounded. In 1936, the federal government agreed to underwrite a massive water control and power program known as the Central Valley Project. Through a complex series of dams and reservoirs, the economic life of the region was dramatically affected. In the late 1930s, as the United States geared for war, all branches of the armed forces began to expand operations in California. San Diego became the major naval port on the Pacific Coast; Los Angeles exploded with new airplane and later aerospace operations; in San Francisco, the expansion of port facilities and the opening of shipbuilding and defense-related operations in Oakland, Richmond and Daly City created a whole new booming economy. These operations rejuvenated the California economy and contributed to more growth. Between 1941 and 1961 California's population more than doubled, from seven million to 16 million. In 1962, California surpassed New York as the largest state in the union. By 1964 there were over 3.7 million Catholics in the state, and in 1991, Los Angeles topped Chicago as the single largest archdiocese in the country.
Growth, Achievements and Challenges. The immediate impact of all this was a sharp increase in both parochial and Catholic school building. In Los Angeles alone, during the tenure of Archbishop James Francis McIntyre (1886–1979), 82 new parishes were established. McIntyre directed a major portion of the archdiocese's resources to the construction of schools for the swelling number of Catholic youth. Vocations to the priesthood surged dramatically after the war. Both major and minor seminaries in Los Angeles and San Francisco were filled with youthful applicants. In 1955, the Diocese of Sacramento established its own minor seminary.
After the death of Archbishop John J. Mitty in October 1961, a major reorganization of the dioceses of northern California took place, forming the dioceses of Stockton, Santa Rosa, and Oakland from portions of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the Diocese of Sacramento. In 1967 Monterey was separated from Fresno to create two new dioceses. In the wake of the tremendous growth of southern California, the Diocese of Orange was created in 1976 and in 1978 a new see was erected at San Bernardino. In 1981, the Diocese of San Jose was created.
Catholics were moving in large numbers to the sub-urban developments surrounding major cities and close to the location of military bases, aerospace plants, and commercial developments. California became more than ever an automobile society, and rates of auto ownership grew dramatically after the war. This in turn set off a massive expansion of state highways and the re-sculpting of the state and its urban centers by the interstate freeway system. As Catholics moved to the suburbs, parishes and schools followed them, creating a new environment for the heretofore largely urban community. Automobiles, private home ownership, and the general diffusion of sub-urban living posed new challenges to the perpetuation of Catholic identity. Likewise, as the cities emptied and freeway building and urban renewal projects began to reconfigure the urban landscape, parishes, schools and other institutions either closed, relocated or readjusted to new demographic realities created by the changing environment. The difficulties of city parishes were accentuated when Archbishop John J. Quinn of San Francisco attempted to close ten churches including the historic St. Francis Church on Vallejo Street. The public outcry compelled his successor, Archbishop William Levada, to reconsider the decision.
Perhaps one of the biggest single changes for postwar Catholicism in California came in the expansion of its school systems. Parochial schools soon became an urgent priority for rapidly growing dioceses. Successful ballot initiatives in 1952 and 1958 spearheaded by Archbishop James Francis McIntyre of Los Angeles resulted in a long-awaited tax exemption for private schools. The Catholic high school, long attached to the old academy system came into being in the 1920s and provided a clear transition for students from elementary school and a preparation for college. After the war, a tremendous demand for Catholic schools corresponded with an increase in the number of women entering convents. Religious sisters provided the bulk of parochial school teachers and their contributed services provided the low overhead that made it possible for parishes to provide them. The growth in parochial school populations eventually developed a need for additional high schools. Here too, religious orders of women and of men sponsored these institutions, which also provided them with many vocations.
The growth in the size and programs of Catholic colleges and universities was also affected by the growth generated by the war and its aftermath. Specifically, the generous education provisions of the 1944 G. I. Bill gave tuition and housing allowances to returning veterans who soon began to swamp the small network of Catholic colleges and universities that had developed in California. Older institutions like Santa Clara, St. Mary's in Moraga, the College of Notre Dame, and the University of San Francisco registered strong new enrollments. So also did Loyola University in Los Angeles.
In the expansive growth of the postwar era, Catholic life and culture seemed to flourish and a moment of particular pride for Californians came in 1953 when Archbishop James Francis McIntyre of Los Angeles was elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals by Pope PiusXII. The conferral of the cardinal's scarlet on a prelate of California in some respects reflected the fact that the church on the West Coast had "arrived." It now shared an ecclesiastical honor given to the larger and older archdioceses in the East.
Ecclesiastical power flowed to Los Angeles more than ever. McIntyre had taken a strong hand in organizing the passage of the ballot initiative securing the tax exemption. He also had worked aggressively to establish a permanent lobbying agency for the bishops in Sacramento. Pressing legislation on education, child care and the social welfare front found Catholics with the need for coordinated and effective lobbying presence in Sacramento. McIntyre took the lead in organizing the bishops in this endeavor (an earlier effort by Mitty in the 1930s had failed) and eventually a public relations executive named William Burke was appointed to lobby for the bishops in Sacramento. The California Catholic Conference was reconstituted in 1966 and was served by a number of priests who held the office of executive secretary. In 1997 Edward Dolejsi became the first layman to represent the California bishops.
Social issues regarding open housing involved the California bishops in 1964 when they took a strong stand against those who sought to repeal the Rumford Fair Housing Act. Although the repeal was approved by California voters on a ballot initiative, the fair housing provision was reinstated by the California Supreme Court.
One of the most visible recipients of Catholic support was Cesar Chavez, the organizer of the United Farm Workers. Influenced by Catholic social teaching, Chavez worked for a time with the Industrial Areas Foundation of community organizer Saul D. Alinsky. He formed the National Farmworkers Association in 1962 with the aid of Dolores Huerta. In 1965 it changed its name to the United Farm Workers. With the aid of sympathetic Catholic priests, religious and others, Chavez and his associates pressed for the recognition of his newly formed union by California agribusiness. His dramatic 300-mile march from Delano to Sacramento in 1966 culminated with an Easter Mass celebrated by Bishop Alden J. Bell (1904–1982). Chavez pressed for boycotts of various agricultural products such as table grapes and lettuce to accentuate his demands. In 1975, California passed a new Agricultural Labor Relations Act which granted the United Farm Workers the right to organize. A new Agricultural Labor Relations Board was established headed by Bishop Roger Mahon, then of Fresno.
California's reception of the changes mandated by Vatican II were in many respects similar to other areas of the country. Episcopal interpretation of various conciliar decrees varied. In most California dioceses, for example, liturgical changes such as rendering a portion of the Mass in the vernacular and celebrating the Mass versus populi rather than ad orientem were implemented by Christmas 1964 or in early 1965 in most dioceses.
Internal church struggles over episcopal authority found Archbishop Joseph T. McGucken (1902–1983) of San Francisco battling with some members of the faculty of St. Patrick Seminary. McGucken also encountered stiff opposition to his decision to erect a new modern St. Mary's Cathedral to replace the 1891 structure that had burned in 1962. Likewise Cardinal James Francis McIntyre found himself engaged in highly public disputes with one of his priests, Father William DuBay and the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
A Multicultural Church. The ethnic diversity of California's growing population is noteworthy in terms of its implications for Catholic life and identity. Because of the revision of immigration law in 1965, California developed an even more diverse Catholic population than at any time in its history. The largest growth is in the state's heavily Catholic Latino population, but also includes large numbers of Vietnamese, Koreans, and Filipinos. The Latino community is the fast growing Catholic community in the state, followed closely by the many Asian communities. As a result of large-scale resettlement of Vietnamese refugees in the state, California has the largest Vietnamese Catholic population outside of Vietnam, concentrated especially in Orange County and the San Bernardino valley. The Chinese Catholic community witnessed remarkable growth in the late 1990s, with an influx of immigrants from Hong Kong and the mainland. The dynamics of cultural exchange, the varying spiritualities, forms of liturgical experience and the practical realities of various cultural groups sharing one parish site continue to challenge both the leadership and the rank and file of the California Catholic Church. In recognition of this multicultural Church, Los Angeles was chosen to host Encuentro 2000, the first national convention celebrating the racial, ethnic and cultural diversity of the U.S. Catholic Church sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Bibliography: Archival Sources: For the missions MS materials are found in the Archives of the Santa Barbara Mission and the Archives of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and San Francisco. The Archivio General de la Nacion in Mexico City is also an important source. Printed works. f. palou, Historical Memoirs of New California, tr. h. e. bolton, 2 v., (Berkeley, Calif. 1926). m. j. geiger, Life and Times of Fray Junipero Serra, O.F.M. 2 v. (Washington, DC, 1959). z. engelhardt, The Missions and Missionaries of California, 4 v. (San Francisco 1908–15). d. weber, The Spanish Frontier in North America (New Haven and London 1992). l. haas, Conquests and Historical Identities in California (Berkeley 1995). a. l. hurtado, Indian Survival on the California Frontier (New Haven and London 1988). r. jackson and e. castillo, Indians, Franciscans and Spanish Colonization (Albuquerque 1995). Mexican Period. f. j. weber, A Biographical Sketch of the Right Reverend Francisco Garcia Diego y Moreno (Los Angeles 1961). m. neri, Hispanic Catholicism in Transitional California: The Life of Jose Gonzalez Rubio, O.F.M. (Santa Barbara 1998). American Period, Archival Sources. Archives of the Archdioceses of Los Angeles and San Francisco; Diocese of Sacramento, San Diego, and Fresno; Archives of the Sisters of Mercy, Burlingame; Dominican Archives, Oakland; Archives of the Christian Brothers, St. Helena; Archives of the Society of Jesus, Los Gatos. Printed Sources. w. gleeson, A History of the Catholic Church in California, 2 v. (San Francisco 1872). s. avella, "Region and Religion in California,"U.S. Catholic Historian 18 (Summer 2000) 28–59. j. burns, A History of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, 3 v. (Strasbourg n.d.). m. engh, Frontier Faiths: Church, Temple and Synagogue in Los Angeles, 1846–1888 (Albuquerque 1992). f. j. weber, Century of Fulfillment: The Roman Catholic Church in Southern California, 1840–1947 (Mission Hills 1990). j. b. mcgloin, California's First Archbishop: The Life of Joseph Sadoc Alemany, O.P. (New York 1966). m. a. mcardle, California's Pioneer Sister of Mercy: Mother Mary Baptist Russell (Fresno 1954). f. j. weber, Thaddeus Amat: California's Reluctant Prelate (Los Angeles 1964). j. t. dwyer, Condemned to the Mines: The Life of Eugene O'Connell, 1815–1891 (New York 1976). h. l. walsh, Hallowed Were the Gold Dust Trails: The Story of Pioneer Priests of Northern California (Santa Clara 1946). r. e. bonta, The Cross in the Valley (Fresno 1963). f. s. parmisano, Mission West: The Western Dominican Province, 1850–1966 (Oakland 1966). j. b. mcgloin, Jesuits by the Golden Gate (San Francisco 1972). r. e. isetti, Called to the Pacific: A History of the Christian Brothers of the San Francisco District 1868–1944 (Moraga 1979). g. mckevitt, The University of Santa Clara: A History, 1851–1977 (Stanford 1979). j. p. gaffey, Citizen of No Mean City, Archbishop Patrick Riordan of San Francisco, 1841–1914 (Consortium 1976). j. brusher, Consecrated Thunderbolt: A Life of Father Peter C. Yorke of San Francisco (Hawthorne, N.J. 1973). r. gribble, Catholicism and the San Francisco Labor Movement 1896–1921 (San Francisco 1993). a baccari et al., Saints Peter and Paul Church: The Chronicles of the "Italian Cathedral of the West" (San Francisco 1985). San Francisco Monitor, Special Centennial Issue, Sept. 4, 1953. f. j. weber, His Eminence of Los Angeles: James Francis Cardinal McIntyre, 2 v. (Mission Hills 1997). j. p. gaffey, Men of Menlo: Transformation of an American Seminary (Washington, DC 1992). p. t. conmy, A Parochial and Institutional History of the Diocese of Oakland, 1962–1972 (Mission Hills 2000). j. m. burns, "The Mexican Catholic Community in California," in j. dolan and g. hinojosa, eds., Mexican Americans and the Catholic Church, 1900–1965 (Notre Dame 1994).
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