The Road to Renewal

The Road to Renewal: Victor Joseph Reed and Oklahoma Catholicism, 1905-1971

Jeremy Bonner
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 440
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  • Book Info
    The Road to Renewal
    Book Description:

    The Road to Renewal offers an important contribution to the study of Catholicism in the 1960s. Grounded in thorough archival research, the book breaks new ground in its examination of the implementation of Vatican II at the diocesan level.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1688-1
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction: From Catholic American to American Catholic
    (pp. 1-20)

    Change is a profoundly disturbing concept for religious communities. All too often, it is assumed that religious institutions require flexibility only as long as is necessary to establish a missionary foothold. Once that has been achieved, the preference is for consolidation and the establishment of defined parameters of operation. To “step outside the box” may expose an organization to the possibility of discord and force the leadership to make hard choices about the way forward. Beginning in the late 1950s, the Roman Catholic Church in America underwent a series of dramatic transformations that profoundly altered the manner in which its...

  6. PART ONE. Before the Council, 1905–1957
    • chapter 1 The Roman Way: Early Life, 1905–1934
      (pp. 23-46)

      “Frankly, I had never considered any other career,” Victor Reed reminisced in 1963. “I wanted to be a priest from as far back as I can remember, and that was when I was about 10 years old.”¹ Such conviction was very much the product of the world into which the future bishop was born, a world that was in a state of flux. Leo XIII’s assertion of papal authority in 1899, coupled with fresh waves of Catholic immigrants in the early decades of the twentieth century and a consequent revival of anti-Catholic prejudice, produced a Church that stood apart from...

    • chapter 2 A Youthful Apostolate: The Heyday of Catholic Action, 1935–1957
      (pp. 47-76)

      During the early years of the Great Depression, Bishop Kelley had felt obliged to restrict overseas activities by his priests. In 1932, he instructed them not to request funds for a vacation in Europe and to keep their domestic vacations as brief as possible, not least for the sake of good public relations. ¹ As the decade wore on, however, the bishop felt a renewed imperative to send some of his students to the American College at Louvain, and Stephen Leven and Victor Reed were obvious candidates for such advancement. Both had shown considerable academic promise during their seminary days...

  7. PART TWO. The Institutional Church, 1958–1971
    • chapter 3 On Being a Bishop: Renewing Diocesan Structures
      (pp. 79-115)

      “Pope John’s decision to convene a general Council has already done much to clarify the proper image of the Church,” editorialized Oklahoma’s diocesan newspaper in July 1962. “As the primary purpose of this Council is the internal condition of the Church, the reform of institutions and procedures where reform is necessary, the Church is compelled to take a scrutinizing view of herself, to look into a mirror under a very bright light. Blemishes are apparent now that were hardly noticed before.”¹ Few of the American bishops, including Victor Reed, recognized the prescience of Father John Joyce, the editorialist. The renewal...

    • chapter 4 Educated Catholics: The School Question Revisited
      (pp. 116-147)

      On March 11, 1960, a letter from a professor of history at St. Gregory’s College in Shawnee appeared in the diocesan newspaper urging Oklahoma Catholics to acknowledge how many of their children had been consigned to the public school system. “Let’s face it,” the priest concluded, “the public schools are ours too . . . a child from a solidly Christian or Catholic family may become a very representative Catholic lay man—even if the public school were his only opportunity for formal education.”¹

      The implications of such a declaration were ominous for those convinced that the parochial school system...

    • chapter 5 Looking Outward: Parish Life and the Postconciliar Church
      (pp. 148-178)

      Integral to immigrant Catholic life, the parish remained the cultural center of many Catholic communities well into the twentieth century. Although a substantial minority of parishes had been designated for particular ethnic groups in the early twentieth century,¹ the general principle held that membership in a parish was determined by one’s residence, not by a preference for a particular pastor, group of like-minded persons, or specific program undertaken by a parish. The universal quality of Catholic belief was reflected in a Latin liturgy, a consistent pattern of Christian formation—particularly after the adoption of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine—and,...

  8. PART THREE. The Prophetic Church, 1958–1971
    • chapter 6 Worship and the Intellect: The Challenge of Liturgical Renewal
      (pp. 181-208)

      As he looked out over the expectant crowd assembled in Oklahoma City in 1961 for the twenty-second National Liturgical Week, Catholic Action stalwart James Cockrell warmed to the task of conveying what the liturgical movement had done for the average layman. The notion that only the priest enjoyed a mediatory role in the Sacrifice of the Mass was outdated, he assured his audience. The priest dispensed God’s sacramental grace to the communicant, but it was the communicant “who broadcasts this grace to the neighborhood and to the market place.” The layman brought to Mass not only himself and his family...

    • chapter 7 We Are Our Brothers’ Keepers: The Ecumenical Impulse
      (pp. 209-235)

      On August 22, 1961, Charles Scott, a Protestant resident of Duncan, Oklahoma, wrote to Bishop Reed protesting the failure of the Catholic Church to engage in genuine ecumenical dialogue. By way of illustration, Scott cited the case of his own family. After twenty-three years of marriage, his Catholic wife had been to his church on a single occasion and their sons never, while he had attended his Catholic parish church on numerous occasions. Scott concluded:

      Sometime ago, in a mild discussion with my wife of this tolerant and intolerant attitude, after reading her church papers and mine; half in jest...

    • chapter 8 A Colorblind Church: The Search for Racial Equality
      (pp. 236-267)

      Nothing defined America in the 1960s more completely than the national campaign for black civil rights. As spokesman for the body of black Protestant religious leaders, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. impressed upon two presidents and the wider American public the necessity of completing the work of black emancipation that had begun in 1863. Defying the notion of “separate but equal” that pervaded southern society and the less visible residential segregation that characterized other parts of the nation, King articulated a strategy that would culminate in the passage of congressional legislation enforcing both the right to vote and the right...

    • chapter 9 Beyond Oklahoma: The Guatemala Mission and the Vietnam War
      (pp. 268-292)

      During the 1950s and early 1960s, the gaze of Oklahoma Catholics increasingly came to be focused on Central and South America, most notably through missionary contact with the nation of Guatemala.¹ The highlands of western Guatemala were the home of the nation’s Indian community, which had been largely neglected by the established Church and whose syncretic faith had been described by one observer as “unorthodox orthodoxy.” Without frequent contact with Catholic clergy, the religion of the Indians tended to blend Christianity and older pagan practices. Finding classic Christian conceptions of God and Christ too remote from daily existence, Indian theology...

  9. PART FOUR. The Human Church, 1958–1971
    • chapter 10 From Pastor to Professional: The Catholic Priesthood in the 1960s
      (pp. 295-322)

      In February 1962, the president of the glass workers’ union in Henryetta, Oklahoma (a trustee of St. Michael’s parish) requested that his pastor, Monsignor Theophile Caudron, be awarded a papal honor. Three months later, Richard Lane, a Tulsa Presbyterian who had headed a 1954 fund-raising drive for St. John’s Catholic Hospital, made the same request. The unusual harmony of labor and business perspectives on this issue spoke to Caudron’s abilities as a strike mediator and the high standing he had enjoyed in a largely Protestant community for half a century.¹

      The following year, the Oklahoma Courier published a profile of...

    • chapter 11 The Cost of Discipleship: Catholic Sisters and Modernity
      (pp. 323-350)

      On Palm Sunday 1964, Victor Reed brought a message of encouragement to members of the orders of religious women based in Oklahoma. “We are living in an era of remarkable change,” he told them. “The changes are affecting the whole Church in all its parts, viz., the bishops, the clergy, the religious, and the laity, so that each Catholic must now rethink his role in the light of the reorganized mind of the Church.” The bishop encouraged the sisters to cooperate more closely with his diocesan clergy. “Priests and sisters must learn to work together as never before,” he told...

    • chapter 12 Out of the Ghetto: The Conscience of the Catholic Layman
      (pp. 351-372)

      On March 11, 1960, the Oklahoma Courier published an editorial entitled “Rights without Fear.” American Catholics, the editor concluded, needed to take a stand based on their own experience, not that of Catholics in Europe: “We Catholics know that our full rights as citizens are not being respected. One of the great tasks we face is to find a method for making these rights respected—a method not based on favor, but on the fairness of our position and our ability to sweat out our demands. This could be a significant contribution to a Christian development of Church-State relations.”¹


    • chapter 13 An Enduring Sense of Separation: Catholic Identity in Crisis
      (pp. 373-394)

      While most Catholics welcomed the greater sense of social inclusion that they experienced during the 1960s, they were well aware that anti-Catholic prejudices lurked beneath the surface of society. Suspicion of Catholic intentions had produced its own brand of intolerance, and stories of convent abuses had been a staple of early-twentieth-century Oklahoma discourse. Even during the 1960 presidential campaign, members of Protestants and Other Americans United for the Separation of Church and State had enlisted the services of former priest Emmet McLaughlin, who traveled through the small towns of Oklahoma denouncing his former coreligionists for their supposed hostility to the...

  10. Conclusion: Aggiornamento Completed
    (pp. 395-404)

    The meeting on March 1, 1971, at Bishop Kelley High School in Tulsa had all the elements of grand drama: a wealthy businessman willing to spend millions of dollars to build a new cathedral for the city, a bishop desirous of moving his seat from the crumbling infrastructure of the downtown area to the expanding neighborhoods of the city’s south side, a militant social action priest, and the energized congregation of an experimental parish.

    The story of the abortive attempt to build a new cathedral serves as an illustrative paradigm for the evolution of the renewal process in Oklahoma. The...

  11. Appendix of maps
    (pp. 405-408)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 409-416)
  13. Index
    (pp. 417-425)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 426-427)