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Introduction In the mid-1980s, my wife and I decided to write a book on U.S. missionaries who had been murdered in the 1970s and 1980s in Central America. Aside from a few short magazine and newspaper articles, we had never before written about modern-day missionaries, so, like any reputable historian would do, we began a search to uncover and read everything we could find that dealt with the history of U.S. Catholic missions and missionaries in Latin America. The one work that proved to be of immense value to us was Gerald Costello’s Mission to Latin America: The Successes and Failures of a Twentieth-­ Century Crusade.1 It greatly influenced our approach in composing our book and has influenced my scholarship ever since. Aside from Costello’s study, however, there were not many other books that we found on U.S. Catholic missions that could be termed serious, professional history. Granted, there were some histories of specific religious congregations’ mission enterprises, but they were usually in-house productions printed by small publishers who charge a fee for their services. They were often hagiographical in tone and usually devoid of meaningful analysis. To put it bluntly, they were amateurish, usually replete with historical misconceptions and of little worth to a serious historian. When my wife and I consulted the standard books on U.S. Catho­ lic history, we were again disappointed. Although they included some 1 information on European missionaries who came to work in what would become the United States, they contained almost nothing on U.S. Catholic foreign mission enterprises.2 To make matters worse, the archives of religious congregations were often poorly organized. They contained valuable information on Catholic mission history, but the researcher had to have patience and plenty of time to track down what he or she needed.3 Nevertheless, despite these problems we were eventually able to complete our book.4 From our research efforts, however, I had come to believe that American missionaries had played a significant role, especially in the twentieth century, in shaping U.S. Catholic perceptions of other cultures. Furthermore, I came to realize that American missionaries had influenced how their fellow U.S. Catholics—both clergy and laity—viewed the foreign policy of their own government.5 Even more important, I was convinced that the American Catholic missionary movement had had an important role in the overall history of the U.S. Catholic Church, yet historians had given little attention to this field of study. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on the Church in Latin America took a step in remedying this situation when it commissioned Sister Mary McGlone to draw up a study of the relationship between the North American and Latin American Catholic churches, with special emphasis on how that relationship has impacted the United States. The book that resulted from her efforts, Sharing Faith across the Hemisphere,6 which appeared in 1997, also includes valuable appendices on the involvement in Latin America of U.S. dioceses, parishes, religious orders, and congregations as well as Catholic colleges and universities. The year 1997 also saw the publication of American Women in Mission: A Social History of Their Thought and Practice, by historian Dana Robert. This innovative work not only highlighted the contributions made by female missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant, to U.S. mission history, but it also showed convincingly that women missionaries were far more than mere auxiliaries to their male counterparts . They provided services to indigenous people that could not be offered by men due to cultural mores and other reasons, and, in so doing, they often developed a closer relationship with the common people, especially with women, than did the male missionaries.7 2  Introduction The publication in 1998 of Sister Angelyn Dries’s The Missionary Movement in American Catholic History represented a major advance in U.S. Catholic mission studies.8 In this important work, Dries lists virtually every American mission enterprise—those conducted by male and female religious congregations, those directed by dioceses, and those that were lay-oriented—and provides basic information on their history. Moreover, she convincingly shows that Catholic missionaries had a profound influence on the development of a distinct U.S. Catholic identity and, as a consequence, that U.S. mission history is an intricate subset of American Catholic history in general and therefore needs to be thoroughly investigated by scholars of American religion and culture. She states emphatically that U.S. Catholic...


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