In Missouri’s Wilds: St. Mary’s of the Barrens and the American Catholic Church, 1818 to 2016

Richard J. Janet

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In 1818, a small group of Catholic clerics established a religious community in southeastern Missouri and opened a school, grounded in its European Vincentian roots but influenced by the isolation of its rural location. St. Mary’s of the Barrens became the first American institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi River and only the fourth Catholic seminary in the United States. Over the years, St. Mary’s emerged as a significant institution whose early leaders played an important role in the development of the Catholic Church on the American frontier. The school’s subsequent history reflected the changing status of the growing American Catholic community. In this history of “the Barrens,” Rick Janet demonstrates how its story reflects the broader sweep of the American Catholic experience.

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ISBN: 9781612481982 Categories: , , , , ,

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Description

In 1818, a small group of Catholic clerics established a religious community in southeastern Missouri and opened a school, grounded in its European Vincentian roots but influenced by the isolation of its rural location. St. Mary’s of the Barrens became the first American institution of higher learning west of the Mississippi River and only the fourth Catholic seminary in the United States. Over the years, St. Mary’s emerged as a significant institution whose early leaders played an important role in the development of the Catholic Church on the American frontier. The school’s subsequent history reflected the changing status of the growing American Catholic community. In this history of “the Barrens,” Rick Janet demonstrates how its story reflects the broader sweep of the American Catholic experience.

Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface and Acknowledgments

Part I: Beginnings to 1818

Chapter 1: Vincentians, the Barrens, and the American Catholic Church

Chapter 2: Founding of St. Mary’s of the Barrens

Part II: An Era of Boundlessness at the Barrens, 1818–1847

Chapter 3: Frontier Leadership

Chapter 4: Policies and Problems

Part III: An Era of Fragmentation and Consolidation, 1847–1888

Chapter 5: Second-Generation Leadership

Chapter 6: Civil War and Aftermath

Part IV: The Barrens Triumphant, 1888–1962

Chapter 7: Revival and Growth

Chapter 8: Conforming to New Demands

Part V: Decline and Fall of St. Mary’s of the Barrens, 1965–2016

Chapter 9: Closure and Controversy

Chapter 10: Conclusion

Works Cited

Index

About the Author

Authors

Richard J. Janet currently serves as professor of history at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, where he has taught since 1985.  He received the PhD in modern European history from the University of Notre Dame.  Janet is the author of numerous articles, essays, and reviews (both scholarly and popular).  His work on the history of the Congregation of the Mission in the United States is supported by the Vincentian Studies Institute of DePaul University.    

Reviews

“St. Mary’s of the Barrens in Perryville, Missouri, is one of the oldest and most venerable Catholic institutions in the United States. With great insight, Rick Janet presents St. Mary’s as an institutional case study to illustrate the major themes of the history of American Catholicism, reflecting on its journey from a frontier mission church, to a rapidly growing immigrant church, to a church of wealth, confidence, surety, and strength, to a church still struggling with the onslaughts of post-modernity and the decline in religious belief and observance. Janet gives the reader the granularity of this Catholic experience in the heartland of the Midwest, and adroitly poses questions on the future of this institution, and indeed the future of American Catholicism itself.”
— Rev. Edward R. Udovic, CM, PhD, DePaul University

“Rick Janet’s history of the Vincentian community and seminary of St. Mary’s of the Barrens provides a valuable service in giving coherent form to a hitherto virtually unknown dimension of American Catholic history. The story of St. Mary’s illuminates significant changes in the religious (and larger national) scene of American history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.”

—Philip Gleason, Professor of History Emeritus, University of Notre Dame