- Brief Notices
The Los Angles archdiocesan archivist, Monsignor Francis Weber, in A Tradition of Outreach claims with respect to Catholic Action, "It is clear that the Church in Southern California was considerably out in front of its sister ecclesial jurisdictions in the field." While his book provides no historical context nor notes or bibliography to check the historical record, it is clear from this very functional book that Los Angeles was active in Catholic Action, not only after Pius XI's 1922 call for same, but as early as the late nineteenth century. Indeed, as Weber claims, the spirit of Catholic Action has been present in the Southern California Church since the arrival of the Franciscan missionaries in the late eighteenth century.
This book provides summary historical sketches of forty groups, arranged alphabetically, that run the gamut of peoples, institutions, and causes. Some of the groups, such as the Knights of Columbus and St. Vincent de Paul Society, are international in focus; others, such as the Young Men's and Ladies' Institutes, were statewide groups; still others, such as Miserere House and the Marymount Tabernacle Society served the Southern California Church exclusively. The needs of labor, the poor, children, Christian education, various ethnic groups, and even campaigns against anti-Catholicism and Communism were aided by these groups. Some organizations mentioned by Weber could be considered rather tangential to true Catholic Action, including the Family Rosary Crusade, Knights of Saint Gregory, and the Protestant-founded Landmark's Club.
Weber's book, while not a work that provides analysis or commentary on the groups described is, nonetheless, a very helpful volume. The book's interesting and information-laden summaries can, along with a brief background on the concept of Catholic Action, serve as a ready reference for scholars and general readers. Francis Weber has continued his long tradition of adding significantly to the historical landscape of American Catholicism.