Catholicism (Western Liturgical Family) - Events By Date
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Colonial Period (1607-1763)

Colonial America took root in Virginia in 1607 and gained momentum when the Pilgrims arrived in Massachusetts. By 1760, there were two million settlers.

King Philip's War (1675-1676)

For 14 months (1675-1676), Indians raided settlements and colonialists launched counterattacks. It ended after King Philip, the chief of the Wampanoag Indian tribe, was assassinated.

Junipero Serra establishes first missions in California (7/16/1769)

Junipero Serra established Mission San Diego on July 16, 1769. This helped extend Spanish control in California and brought Christianity to Native Americans.

Quebec Act (10/7/1774)

The Quebec Act of 1774 led to a resurgence in anti-Catholic sentiment in the American colonies and increased tensions between colonists and the British government.

American Revolution (4/19/1775-9/3/1783)

When the first shots were fired in 1775, the Colonies didn’t even have a military. Eight years later, the United States had defeated England.

Founding Period (1783-1791)

With independence won, the United States of America began creating a new government during the Founding Period (1783-1791), including the selection of the first president.

Georgetown Founded (1789)

In 1789, Georgetown University became the first Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States.

Diocese of Baltimore (11/6/1789)

On November 6, 1789, the first diocese in the United States was established in Baltimore, Maryland.

First Convent of Nuns in America (1790)

The first Catholic convent in America was founded in 1790 in Maryland by four contemplative Discalced Carmelite Nuns who came from a convent in Belgium.

Westward and Southern Expansion (1790-1848)

The United States of America began pushing beyond the boundaries of its original 13 states, until its holdings spanned from sea to sea (1790-1848).

War of 1812 (1812-1815)

The War of 1812 (1812-1815) is often called the second American Revolutionary War, because it again pitted America against Britain.

Oblate Sisters of Providence Founded (1829)

The Oblate Sisters of Providence was founded in Baltimore, Md., in 1829, becoming the first Roman Catholic black sisterhood in the world.

Ursuline Convent Riots (8/11/1834)

Anti-Catholic sentiment in New England culminated in 1834, when a mob burned down a convent and school run by Ursuline nuns in Charlestown, Mass.

Publication of Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery (1836)

Maria Monk's controversial Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery (1836) depicted illicit encounters between priests and nuns, rape, infanticide, and murder.

Papal Condemnation of Slave Trade (1839)

In 1839, Pope Gregory XVI condemned the slave trade in the papal bull entitled In supremo apostolatus, but American Catholics were tentative about ending slavery.

University of Notre Dame Founded (1842)

French Priest Edward Sorin founded the University of Notre Dame in 1842. It became the most renowned Catholic university in the world.

First Wave of Feminism (1848-1920)

The 72-year struggle to grant women the right to vote evolved as the central theme of the first wave of American feminism (1848-1920).

Plenary Councils of Baltimore (5/9/1852-12/7/1884)

The Plenary Councils of Baltimore were a series of meetings of the American Catholic bishops held in 1852, 1866, and 1884.

Civil War (1861-1865)

The Civil War (1861-1865) was fought between the U.S. government and 11 southern states. The Union prevailed, slaves were freed, and nearly 700,000 people died.

Reconstruction and Industrialization (1865-1890)

During the Reconstruction and Industrialization period (1865-1890), the South struggled to recover after the Civil War. Meanwhile, United States was emerging as an industrial giant.

Knights of Columbus (1882)

The Knights of Columbus is a fraternal organization for Catholic men that formed in Connecticut in 1882.

Augustus Tolton Becomes Ordained Catholic Priest (4/24/1886)

On April 24, 1886, Augustus Tolton became the first fully and recognizably African-American Catholic priest.

Jim Crow Laws (1890-1965)

Abolition freed the slaves, but blacks were kept segregated from whites in the South through local and state regulations known as Jim Crow laws (1890-1965).

Publication of Encyclical Rerum Novarum (5/15/1891)

Rerum Novarum, an 1891 encyclical by Pope Leo XIII on protecting the working class, is a foundational text in modern Catholic social thought.

Publication of Encyclical Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae (1/22/1899)

Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae, an 1899 encyclical by Pope Leo XIII, condemned the heresy of Americanism.

Publication of Encyclical Pascendi Dominici Gregis (9/8/1907)

Pascendi Dominici Gregis, a 1907 encyclical by Pope Pius X, defined Modernism as "the synthesis of all heresies."

World War I (1914-1919)

World War I (1914-1919) began in Europe, but grew into an unprecedented global conflict with 65 million troops. It was called the Great War.

Xavier University of Louisiana Founded (1915)

Xavier University of Louisiana (est. 1915) is the only historically black Catholic institution of higher learning in America.

National Catholic War Council (1917)

The National Catholic War Council in 1917 allowed the Catholic hierarchy to display its patriotism and to unite on a national level.

Bishops' Program for Social Reconstruction (1919)

The "Bishops’ Program for Social Reconstruction" (1919) was a Catholic initiative supporting guaranteed wages, health insurance, and worker protections.

Bureau of Immigration (1920)

In 1920, the National Catholic Welfare Council gave aid and guidance to new Catholic immigrants through its Bureau of Immigration.

Prohibition (1920-1933)

The 18th amendment made the manufacture, distribution, and sale of alcohol illegal in the United States for 13 years (1920-1933).

Oregon Compulsory Education Act (1922)

The Oregon Compulsory Education Act of 1922 required mandatory public education. It was struck down by the Supreme Court following protest by religious groups.

Al Smith Presidential Campaign (11/6/1928)

Alfred E. "Al" Smith became the first Catholic nominee for president when he ran as a Democrat in 1928 against Herbert Hoover.

Great Depression (1929-1939)

The Great Depression (1929-1939) brought the biggest economic upheaval in U.S. history. Millions of people were unemployed, banks/businesses failed, and there was sweeping poverty.

Catholic Worker Movement (5/1/1933)

In 1933, Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin founded the Catholic Worker Movement, a group of Catholic communities promoting social justice and hospitality toward the poor.

World War II (1939-1945)

With the rise of Adolf Hitler, Germany began annexing neighboring countries, leading to the second World War (1939-1945) and the deadliest conflict in world history.

Cold War (1947-1991)

The antagonistic relations between the United States and the Soviet Union, known as the Cold War (1947-1991), lasted for nearly half a century.

Vietnam War (1955-1975)

America’s two-decade involvement in the Vietnam War (1955-1975) was costly and divisive. It claimed more than 58,000 U.S. lives and cost 140 billion dollars.

Election of John F. Kennedy (11/8/1960)

John F. Kennedy became the first Catholic President of the United States when he defeated Richard Nixon in the 1960 election.

Rise of Equal Rights Movements (1962)

The social justice movements of the 1960s were infectious, giving rise to women, racial minorities, and LGBT groups seeking equal rights in the United States.

Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) (10/11/1962-12/8/1965)

The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) was a Catholic ecumenical council that attempted to reconcile Catholicism with the challenges of modernity.

Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (1965)

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolished quotas heavily favoring Europeans, focusing instead on skills and reuniting families. It dramatically changed the demographic landscape.

Joint Catholic-Orthodox Declaration (12/7/1965)

The Joint Catholic-Orthodox Declaration of 1965 revoked the mutual excommunications of 1054 that led to the Great Schism.

Catholic Charismatic Renewal at Duquesne University (1967)

The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a movement influenced by both Catholicism and Pentecostalism and whose American roots can be traced to Duquesne University in 1967.

Publication of Encyclical Humanae Vitae (7/25/1968)

Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae reaffirmed the Catholic Church's ban on artificial birth control and serves as a continuing source of controversy.

Publication of "The Challenge of Peace" (5/3/1983)

In 1983, the Catholic bishops of the United States published the "Challenge of Peace," which denounced the arms race during the Cold War.

Publication of "Economic Justice for All" (1986)

The United States Catholic bishops wrote the pastoral letter entitled "Economic Justice for All" (1986) to promote the economic well-being for all citizens.

City of Boerne v. Flores (6/25/1997)

In this 1997 case, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress had overstepped its constitutional powers in enacting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.

9/11 (9/11/2001)

On September 11, 2001 ("9/11"), al-Qaeda terrorists crashed two planes into the Twin Towers and one into the Pentagon. More than 3,000 people died.

Catholic Church Abuse Scandal (2002)

The Catholic Church has recently been the subject of a widespread scandal involving Catholic officials accused of sexual abuse and cover-ups.


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