Bands of Brothers: The Negotiation of Identity in the Congregation of the Mission's Polish Vice-Province in the United States, 1903--1975.
Bands of Brothers: The Negotiation of Identity in the Congregation of the Mission's Polish Vice-Province in the United States, 1903--1975.Charles R. KaczyńskiDirector: Leslie Tentler, Ph.D.The historical literature on late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Polish Catholic immigration to the United States includes numerous studies of conflicts between the immigrant laity and members of the Catholic clergy, both Polish- and American-born. While scholars have closely studied the laity's motivations and the conflicts' outcomes, little attention has been given to the Polish immigrant clergy who came to the United States to minister to the spiritual needs of the laity and their perspective on these tensions.This dissertation fills a gap in this historical literature by examining the history of the Polish Vice-Province in the United States of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentian Fathers) from the first Polish Missionaries' arrival in 1903 to the reconstitution of the Polish Vice-Province as the autonomous New England Province in 1975. Drawing on theoretical frameworks developed by T. H. Breen and Benedict Anderson, this dissertation analyzes the role that competing ethnic and clerical identities played in the Polish Vice-Province's ability to resolve conflicts with its Mother Province in Poland and the Eastern Province of the United States as well as with Polish secular priests serving in Catholic dioceses throughout the eastern half of the United States. While these conflicts were, in themselves, difficult to solve, negotiations between these different groups of priests were further complicated by global events, such as the First World War, the Great Depression, and the Second World War, as well as by the assimilation of later generations of Polish Americans.Utilizing materials collected from archives in the United States and Europe and oral interviews with members of the New England Province and alumni of the Polish Vice-Province's former high school in Erie, Pennsylvania, this dissertation concludes that ethnic identity continued to be a significant factor in the history of the Polish Vice-Province in the United States well into the second half of the twentieth century.
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