We Have Been Believers


in The Catholic Studies Reader

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780823234103
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240906 | DOI:

Series: Catholic Practice in North America

We Have Been Believers

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Parish revivals enabled many Catholics, including blacks, to attain a deeper knowledge of their faith and to take fuller ownership of it. Catholic revivalism differed in its emphasis on the sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist. African Americans, especially former slaves, flocked to these events as they helped them transition from slavery to freedom, and from rudimentary knowledge of their faith to a stronger identification with and knowledge about Catholicism. Black Catholic Studies originated in the late 1960s not among academics but among African American priests, brothers, and members of women's religious communities who had for too long endured the shared experience of institutional racism in the Catholic Church. It enriched African American theology without being subsumed by it; the movement also deepened Catholic historical studies in the United States—as noted by the chapter in an assertion rich in implications for Catholic Studies practice—by prompting a recognition that the “syncretism” marking African American Catholic devotional practices was not confined to the black Catholic experience.

Keywords: African Americans; blacks; Black Catholic Studies; Catholic Studies; Catholics; syncretism; Catholicism; racism; theology; Catholic revivalism

Chapter.  8742 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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