Two archbishops guided the New Orleans flock during this period: John Shaw (1918-1934) and Joseph Rummel (1935-1965). The period began with another major realignment of provincial and archdiocesan boundaries with the creation of the Diocese of Lafayette, comprised of the thirteen civil parishes in southwest Louisiana (1918). In 1926, the Province of San Antonio was established; Texas and Oklahoma were no longer part of the Province of New Orleans.
The period also witnessed a major shift in population centers. The 1920 census was the first in which urban dwellers outnumbered farm residents. But already a new phenomenon - the suburbs - was beginning to form around large and mid-sized cities. These demographic changes required a major realignment of archdiocesan parishes. A rapid expansion of parishes and schools took place, particularly in the expanding areas of New Orleans and the West Bank of the Mississippi River. New parishes were also formed in Belle Chase, Folsom, Gretna, Jefferson, Lafitte, Marrero, Metairie, Reserve, and Westwego.
The period saw another outbreak of anti-Catholicism. Archbishop Shaw urged all Catholics to support candidates who pledged to uphold the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion in the face of the growing presence of the Ku Klux Klan. The focal point of the anti-Catholic attack was Catholic schools. The Oregon School Law of the early 1920s mandated that every child attend a public school. Louisiana was not immune. Local efforts for anti-Catholic school laws failed. Louisiana, under the prodding of its new governor, Huey P. Long, enacted landmark legislation to provide school books directly to all Louisiana children regardless of the school they attended. The legislation has survived every attack on its constitutionality and remains in effect today.
Catholic schools continued their steady growth. In 1919, 23,600 students were attending archdiocesan schools and local Catholic universities; by 1941, the number increased to 42,100. Loyola University and Xavier University expanded their programs. The Dominican Sisters and Marianites of Holy Cross opened new opportunities for higher education, particularly for teacher training.
Notre Dame Seminary was established, an urgent necessity after World War I severely impeded the recruitment of foreign clergy. With generous community support, classes began in the newly-completed building on Carrollton Avenue in September, 1923. The first five graduates were ordained the following year.
A core of dedicated laymen and women emerged during this period - active in parish and archdiocesan organizations, generous with their time for special projects such as the Notre Dame Seminary drive in 1921 and the 1938 Eucharistic Congress. The most tangible evidence of this new lay participation was the growth and multiplication of many local units of national organizations such as the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (1935), the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women (1936), and the Catholic Youth Organization (1936).
Other Significant Dates
||Catholic Action of the South is established to replace the defunct The Morning Star
||Eighth National Eucharistic Congress is held in New Orleans
||Archdiocesan Social Action Committee is organized
||First Catholic labor institute is held in Louisiana
||The United States enters World War II
1. Notre Dame Seminary 1999, by Frantisek Zvardon. Courtesy of Éditions du Signe and Frantisek Zvardon. All rights reserved.