Southwestern Historical Quarterly
California Catholicity. By Msgr. Francis J. Weber (Los Angeles: Libra
Press, Ltd., 1979. Pp. xv+2o7. Preface, index. $13.)
No one would question the prefatory observations of this book that
California is a remarkable place and a land of variety. California Cath-
olicity in its own way reflects this appraisal. The book is a collection of
essays which the author wrote, beginning in 1963, for The Tidings un-
der the heading "California's Catholic Heritage." Since The Tidings,
the weekly newspaper of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese, is read
chiefly by the faithful of that jurisdiction, the essays have an edifying as
well as informative purpose. Although they deal with a great diversity
of persons and subjects, they are in a sense unified by their relationship
to the Catholic history of California. Their underlying unity is reen-
forced by organizing them under section headings: "People of God,"
"Friars and Priests," "Missionary Era," "The Hierarchy," "Reminis-
cences," and "Pastoral Life."
Perhaps the best way to convey a sense of the book's contents is to
sample the essays. Here is something about Henry Ward Beecher. You
weren't expecting him, so why is he here? Well, it turns out that he
came to California in 1878 for a series of lectures, in the course of
which he said something that the editor of the San Francisco Catholic
paper, though "no admirer of Mr. Beecher" (p. 9), agreed with. The
visitor pointed out how important for society is the "instruction of the
conscience of the common people" (p. 9). This, observed the editor, is
"Catholic doctrine" (p. 1o). Another non-Catholic, Charles Lummis,
is the subject of an essay because of his friendly and admiring attitude
toward the Church and the Spanish in the Southwest. Lummis did
good work, Weber asserts, in rescuing the Spanish from Prescott and
setting the record straight on their missionary achievement and their
Indian policy. Another essay pays tribute to the Franciscan historian,
Maynard Gieger, who did so much to illuminate the story of the mis-
sion era. Making up a separate essay is the account from church records
of the dedication ceremony on May 15, 1784, for the beautiful new
church of the Santa Clara mission. Fray Junipero Serra himself, then
president of the California missions, came to assist at that occasion.
And to close this sampling on a modern note, there is the piece "Phila-
delphian in the Southland," on Bishop Francis J. Furey of San Diego,
who was transferred in 1969 to San Antonio, Texas, and who passed
away only recently.
California Catholicity may suffer a little from what Vatican Council
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/. Accessed May 22, 2015.