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  • The Eighty-Eighth Annual Meeting of the American Catholic Historical Association
  • American Catholic Historical Association

Report of the Chairman of the Committee on Program

The 2008 annual meeting of the American Catholic Historical Association convened on Thursday afternoon, January 3, at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. The meeting continued through mid-morning of Sunday, January 6, with all of the sessions being held in the same hotel. The program committee consisted of Thomas E. Buckley, S.J., Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley; Jeffrey Burns, Academy of American Franciscan History, Berkeley, California; Margaret Lavinia Anderson, University of California, Berkeley; and Joseph P. Chinnici, O.F.M., chairman, Franciscan School of Theology, Berkeley. Twelve sessions of academic presentation and discussion and a presidential luncheon provided plenty of opportunity for the strengthening of scholarship and friendships. The program committee noted that a good number of the presenters focused on several overarching themes in American Catholic history: its globalization, the transnational nature of much of the story, Catholic-Jewish relations, and significant trends in current historiography. The sessions were very well attended. One session was cosponsored with the American Historical Association and one with the Academy of American Franciscan History. A significant discussion regarding the revitalization of the Association occurred at the Executive Council meeting on Thursday evening, and the major items for consideration by the Association during this coming year were presented at the business meeting on Friday afternoon. Eighty-one persons registered their attendance at the meeting.

The opening session on Thursday welcomed the participation of some members of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association. Entitled "Perspectives on Three Congregations of Canadian Women Religious and Their Missionary Endeavors in the Twentieth Century," three papers and a commentary demonstrated both the development of Canadian religious women during the period and also their parallels with trends among religious women in the United States. Margaret Susan Thompson, Syracuse University, chaired the session. Rosa Bruno-Jofré, Queen's University, gave a paper entitled "The Missionary Oblate Sisters: The Process of Renewal from 1963, the Path to a Renewed Understanding of the Ministry and Work in Rwanda." She was followed by Elizabeth Smyth, of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, who spoke on "Missions at Home and Abroad in the Twentieth Century: The Experience of Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception." Her talk was helpfully and extensively illustrated [End Page 283] with photographs. The final paper, by Professor Elizabeth W. McGahan of the St. John's Campus of the University of New Brunswick, was entitled "Twentieth-Century Governance and Missions with the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception."Unfortunately, bad weather prevented Professor McGahan from travelling to Washington. Her paper was read by Professor Thompson. Terence Fay, S.J., of the Toronto School of Theology for St. Augustine's Seminary (University of Toronto), offered cogent and helpful commentary. The session concluded with questions and discussion, engaging many of those in attendance.

Two sessions were held on Friday morning, January 4. Robert Bireley, S.J., Loyola University Chicago, organized and chaired a very insightful session on "Success and Failure in Three Renaissance Pontificates: Pius II (1458–1464), Julius II (1503–1512), and Leo X (1513–1521)." The first paper was delivered by Margaret Meserve, University of Notre Dame, who presented portions of a much larger study in progress. "Bulls, Briefs, and Bombshells: Printed Propaganda in the Reign of Julius II," looked at the manner in which the new technology of printing was adopted as a political tool by the papacy, especially Pope Julius II, who used visual media of all sorts (not just printed texts) to craft a public persona for himself and to enhance the authority of the papacy and who was the most prolific user, of all the Renaissance popes, of the Italian press. Printing allowed the papacy new opportunities for mass communication, and in the process the new technology transformed the material presentation of traditional papal documents like bulls and briefs, allowing for significant changes in form and content. But the advent of the press by no means revolutionized bureaucratic practice. Indeed, it could be said that the popes used the press as a way...


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