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The Catholic Historical Review 89.2 (2003) 345-346

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Acts of Faith: The Catholic Church in Texas, 1900-1950. By James Talmadge Moore. (College Station: Texas A&M University Press. 2002. Pp. viii, 263. $39.95.)

In 1998 Father James Talmadge Moore retired as professor of history from North Harris College in Houston, Texas, and resumed full-time duties as pastor of Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church in that city. He had served as pastor of that parish since his reception into the Catholic priesthood in 1984. Meanwhile, having earned his Ph.D. degree in history from Texas A&M University, also in 1984, Father Moore began to emerge as a noted Catholic historian, becoming especially well known in Texas. As part of this, with his Acts of Faith: The Catholic Church in Texas, 1900-1950, he has contributed his second volume to the Centennial Series of the Association of Former Students, Texas A&M University (No. 91). His first book in that collection, Through Fire and Flood: The Catholic Church in Frontier Texas, 1836-1900, to which this present tome is a sequel, appeared in 1992. Father Moore, in addition to these works, is author of an earlier study, Indian and Jesuit: A Seventeenth Century Encounter, as well as several articles on Catholicism and history.

A former president of the Texas Catholic Historical Society (1998-2000) and named a fellow of that group in 2001, Father Moore is also distinguished in serving as a consulting editor for Catholic Southwest: A Journal of History and Culture. Thus, he is highly qualified to investigate the complex story of the Catholic Church's maturation in the Lone Star State beyond the nineteenth century, focusing on the years 1900 to 1950. With his Acts of Faith: The Catholic Church in Texas, 1900-1950, Father Moore has accomplished this mission admirably.

From the impact of the deadly hurricane that slammed ashore at Galveston Island on September 8, 1900—arguably the United States' most devastating natural disaster—through World War I; the 1920's and the Great Depression of the 1930's; the Second World War; the expansion of Communism into China and other lands; the foundation then being laid for the coming of the Korean War in 1950; as well as the development of noticeable domestic changes in the United States itself; the Catholic Church in Texas experienced tremendous growth both in size and breadth of presence. As in other regions of America, such included a multicultural population explosion; an accompanying expansion of diocesan polity, including the erection of new dioceses as well as an archdiocese (San Antonio); the building of educational, charitable, and other types of institutions; and a deep commitment to the Church's social and doctrinal teachings throughout society.

But, Catholicism in Texas, as in other areas of the country, also encountered anti-immigrant radical nativism, directed especially against Hispanic Catholics. The Ku Klux Klan, re-established in Georgia in 1915 and quickly spreading its propaganda, for a time acted as that movement's most vehement representative. All of these and more, including profiles of key personages and groups such as male and female religious communities, Father Moore treats in his narrative with a highly readable writing style based on thorough research. [End Page 345]

He has divided his Acts of Faith into fifteen carefully planned chapters, two appendices, and substantial notes, featuring in his resource material a thorough study of the San Antonio Catholic archdiocesan newspaper, The Southern Messenger, and an index. In so doing, Father Moore has written a book that needs to be studied by anyone and everyone interested not only in the history of Catholicism in Texas, but also in religion generally throughout the United States. Moore's study should be available in all college, university, and public libraries, as it will stand as the classic work on this subject for some time to come.


Patrick Foley
Catholic Southwest: A Journal of History and Culture



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