Study of Multi-Ethnic Catholic Parishes

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Fri, 12/01/1995
End Date: 
Mon, 06/30/1997

Foley led a team that surveyed multi-ethnic Catholic congregations to evaluate the effectiveness of immigrant communities’ assimilation into American congregations. The researchers tried to view the process through the eyes of both the American and immigrant communities. Through in-depth interviews with leaders and congregants conducted by an independent team of social scientists, the study showed that current strategies employed to welcome immigrants worked well overall, with a few complications. Typically congregations struggled to provide one or more of the following resources: (1) physical space to accommodate immigrant worshipers, and a time for mass that did not conflict with American congregants; (2) leadership personnel fluent in ethnic languages; (3) moral and financial support for immigrant programs; (4) accommodations for observing traditions foreign to American Catholicism.
Foley presented two papers: “Civil Society, Democracy and Development: Some Doubts and Some Lessons from Recent Experience,” delivered November 6, 1998, Bethesda, Maryland; and “Religious Institutions as Agents for Civic Incorporation: A Preliminary Report on Research on Religion and New Immigrants,” delivered at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, California. Finally, he summarized the research in detail in the final report, “Welcoming the Stranger: The Catholic Church and the New Immigrant.”(MG)