In November 2013 Loyola University Chicago’s Joan and Bill Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage (CCIH) will launch the first in a series of conferences that focus on the historical, cultural, and religious roles that Roman Catholicism played in sustaining ethnic identity for many immigrant communities who came to Chicago in the 20th century. Each conference will be devoted to an ethnic community, in which Catholic faith and devotional life bolstered cultural/national identity at the same time that the Church’s institutions helped to assimilate that ethnic community into a new city and nation. The planned conferences include many waves of 20th century immigration to Chicago whose Catholic faith helped to shape their cultural narrative.
The conferences will invite scholars from the fields of ethnic studies, urban and cultural history, literature and language, theology, and sociology of religion. At the same time, they will be devoted to celebrating these heritages with the participation of Chicago artists and Catholic religious leaders. Planned conferences will look at the following immigrant communities: Italian, Polish, Mexican, Lithuanian, Vietnamese, and African.