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The Polish National Catholic Church: The Founding of an American Schism

Rencewicz, Margaret J. (2010) The Polish National Catholic Church: The Founding of an American Schism. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) traces its origin to the establishment of Saint Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr Parish, in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1897, under the leadership of the Rev. Francis Hodur. It is the only surviving institution to emerge from Independentism (a religious movement among immigrant Catholics in the United States and Canada around the turn of the twentieth century who moved away from the Roman Catholic Church in America and formed and joined separate, yet still self-described "Catholic," religious institutions) and as such is the only extant schism of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. The founding of the PNCC and its parishes reflects widespread conflicts in immigrant communities, not only between the Irish-dominated hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States and non-Irish immigrant Roman Catholic laypeople, but also among members of individual Roman Catholic parishes. The Roman Catholic parish was a place where immigrants struggled not only with priests and bishops, but also with each other over church property ownership and their role in church governance. PNCC recruiters were able to gain converts from Roman Catholicism by appealing to their new sense of Polish nationalism, which many immigrants developed in the United States. Polish nationalist feelings also motivated many Roman Catholics to break away from Roman Catholic parishes and form independent Catholic churches, many of which later joined the PNCC. Although many Polish immigrants came to equate their Polish identity with their Catholic identity, PNCC recruiters were able to convince many Roman Catholics that the PNCC was not only a legitimate Catholic church, but also more "Catholic" than the Roman Catholic Church itself. The PNCC appealed to immigrants' sense of nationalism and Catholicism to convince Roman Catholics and members of independent Catholic churches to join the PNCC at a time when immigrants' thoughts turned from returning home to staying in the United States.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Rencewicz, Margaret J.mjr40@pitt.eduMJR40
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKane, Paula Mpmk@pitt.eduPMK
Committee MemberOrbach, Alexanderorbach@pitt.eduORBACH
Committee MemberOestreicher, Richarddick@pitt.eduDICK
Date: 26 January 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 21 October 2009
Approval Date: 26 January 2010
Submission Date: 11 December 2009
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Religious Studies
Degree: MA - Master of Arts
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Francis Hodur; Franciszek Hodur; Hodur; independent Catholicism; independent Catholics; Independentism; Polish National Catholic Church
Other ID:, etd-12112009-001736
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:10
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:54


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