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Reconstructing Siege Mentality: The History of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska since 1960

thesis
posted on 2024-05-01, 00:00 authored by Joshua A. Hoxmeier
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska provides an interesting looking into the history of the American Catholic Church since the mid-twentieth century. The American Catholic Church reached its numeric height during the early 1960s. Part of this success came from a strict siege mentality that sought to protect the Church from Protestant and secular threats, both real and perceived. The American Catholic Church built its own separate world within larger society. This separate world had its own churches, schools, hospitals, orphanages, charities, professional organizations, social gatherings, stores, and even a separate Catholic actors' guild. But due to post World War II socioeconomic mobility and the Second Vatican Council this siege mentality began to decline. The decline of siege mentality meant many of the strengths it brought to the Church declined as well. At the same time the American Catholic Church fell from its numerical zenith. Priest shortages, empty desks, school closures, and dwindling numbers of female religious came to define the American Catholic Church. Little has been said, however, about the handful of dioceses across the country that did not follow this trajectory of decline. The Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska represented one such diocese. Fairly well-known in Catholic circles, Lincoln achieved notable success in a number of areas since the early 1980s. This dissertation explores how diocesan officials reconstructed a siege mentality beginning in the early 1970s that portrayed the diocese in various degrees of opposition to secular society and other trends within the Catholic Church. It analyzes how this reconstructed siege mentality worked to sustain the diocese in a number of ways including increased devotion, a willingness to sacrifice, and higher levels of religious vocations and Catholic school enrollment and funding.

History

Advisor

Kevin M. Schultz

Department

History

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois Chicago

Degree Level

  • Doctoral

Degree name

Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

R a l p h K e e n ; M i c h a e l O . E m e r s o n ; J o a q u i n M . C h á v e z ; M i c h e l l e N i c k e r s o n

Thesis type

application/pdf

Language

  • en

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