Monday, September 20, 2010

Catholic Kentucky...

Most people up here in DC are more than a bit surprised when I tell them that Louisville is not only an archdiocese (not a diocese), but that it is the oldest inland diocese in the United States. Many of their dioceses were once a part of mine! We celebrated the two-hundreth anniversary of the founding of the diocese back in 2008, in conjunction with the papal visit that year. Most people seem to think that because Kentucky is largely considered a Southern state, that there are hardly any Catholics there. But quite the opposite is true. When the Catholic migration to this country began in earnest, most came from England to the Eastern shore of Maryland. Of that group, a significant number continued West, over the mountains, and into the then-Western frontier of Kentucky. Along the way they encountered much difficulty and hardship, not least of which was the continual threat of Indian attack. The Catholic pioneers settled an area surrounding Pottinger's Creek in 1785. A small log church was soon constructed at the small crossroads in 1792. In 1823, under the pastorship of Fr. Charles Nerinckx, the current church structure was completed. Fr. Nerinckx was a Belgian, who was educated at Louvain. After enduring four years of persecution by the French, he fled Europe and arrived in the United States in 1804. Bishop John Carroll assigned him to assist Fr. Stephen Badin - the only priest serving in Kentucky at the time and the first man to be ordained a priest in the United States.

My reason for bringing all this up you ask? Well, a friend of mine (Charlie) just recently posted some pictures of Holy Cross parish's 225th anniversary celebration. Enjoy:

Some Suggested Further Reading:
An American Holy Land (A History of the Archdiocese of Louisville), Clyde F. Crews, 1987.
The Catholic Church on the Kentucky Frontier (1785-1812), Sr. Mary Ramona Mattingly, M.A., 1974.
Cathedrals in the Wilderness, J. Herman Schauinger, 1952.

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