Editor’s Note: Courage. Collaboration. Faith.
As we worked on this commemorative bicentennial issue of The Catholic Telegraph, we dug into the 200-year history of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and, much like archaeologists we unearthed treasures, hardships and victories of the past.
From the beginning, the Catholic faithful in this area had to overcome obstacles that might feel insurmountable now. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean by boat, unsure of survival or what lay waiting on the other side and then settling in the swampy lands of the Northern archdiocese, or along the Ohio and Miami Rivers, took unfathomable courage. To do so, and then build churches, often with bricks made by the faithful themselves, took resilience, determination and a reliance on faith. And as the congregations of Catholic faithful quickly grew –- both through births and a greater influx of immigrants – it took great collaboration to build enough Catholic churches and schools for everyone.
Priests and religious made the ocean crossing to give aid to Bishop Fenwick and the Catholic faithful as they founded this great diocese. The faithful traveled by wagon through dense woods and swampland – and even braved wolves – to make it to Mass miles away. The faithful of Dayton watched in horror as a great flood robbed them of their church- building supplies.
Still, the faithful persisted. With courage, collaboration and faith they built, they grew and they handed down the faith to their children.
Although present day looks much different, the Catholic faith continues to thrive in Western and Southwestern Ohio. Our priestly vocations are swelling again, and I’ve witnessed the enrollment of our own Catholic school reach numbers it hasn’t seen in years. People are still looking to God even in a culture that often pushes Him away.
It is our duty to continue the legacy of the last 200 years. Our ancestors endured many physical obstacles separating them from the sacraments. Today, many of us want for very little, but we are a spiritually-starved culture. The faithful must, therefore, adapt in order to grow and evangelize. Our deprivations look different, yes, but we can still learn from the wisdom 200 years has brought us: courage, collaboration and faith.
This bicentennial issue of The Catholic Telegraph was born of those very things. You hold 116 pages of a 190-year- old Catholic publication in your hands. It was created through the collaborative talents of faithful writers, artists and photographers, and it shares the stories of some of the courageous people who raised this archdiocese to what it is today. Together, through the centuries, we have all taken part in forming the Catholic faith of this region; and, together, let us courageously form generations of Catholic faithful for the next 200 years.