Date of Award

Fall 1972

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




To write of the past when the present is in such turmoil is folly to many men. To speak of an age that could hardly reform its political, educational and social institutions when the complexities of its problems were minimal in comparison to the present is called irrelevant by contemporaries. The problems of poverty, urbanization, bigotry and social injustice were not solved in the past, men argue. To research the Catholic Church as an institution is useless in a period when ecumenism must -be-the spirit and the institutional church is declining in popularity. And when an historian chooses to research only one man, especially one not generally known by the public or even by his colleagues, who dedicated his life to these reforms and to this church, the worth of his work is questioned. To examine the past is to repeat the past. We must look to the future, for it is there that we shall live, or die from the shock. This dissertation may be subjected to these criticisms. For it deals with the work of Humphrey J. Desmond. Between 1880 and 1932 he was the editor of a weekly Catholic newspaper which he used as a vehicle to promote social and educational reform. Of what significance can this be? Perhaps more than detractors of history would have us believe. Life is not lived only in the future. It is rather an accumulation of the past. If the struggles of the present are to reach fruition in the future, it will only happen if the past has been reconstructed to give the struggle meaning and guidance. The history of one man's work becomes relevant in this process when we become aware that each of us is one man who must choose to respond to the circumstances in which he finds himself. We live in a period of prejudice to which the past has contributed; but it has also overcome different kinds of hatred. We can study to see how it failed, how it succeeded and how it is applicable to the present. The same is true of poverty and social injustice. If the Church to some men seems to be faltering, to others it is a time of renaissance and new beginnings...



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