Catholicism (Western Liturgical Family) - Events By Date
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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.

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.

Oblate Sisters of Providence Founded (1829)

The Oblate Sisters of Providence, founded in Baltimore, Md., in 1829, was the first Roman Catholic congregation founded by women of African descent.

Ursuline Convent Riots (8/11/1834)

In 1834, an anti-Catholic 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.

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 (i.e., Hart-Celler Act) permitted more Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu immigrants into the United States, changing the U.S. religious 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.

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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