A Church For Foreigners


Many of you dont seem to understand that where some of us live (I am in Appalachia) the Catholic Church either does not exist or is considered a “church for foreigners and outsiders”.
EVERYONE here is either Baptist, Methodist, Church of God or other Pentecostal churches, the Baptists being by far the largest.
Even the Episcopal church is thought of as a “Yankee church” only attended by displaced New Englanders and “uppity” locals.
I think there is some type religious cultural gap that ya’ll are failing to see or understand.
Most folks here are descended from Scotch-Irish/English immigrants from the Colonial times and/or from French Hugeaunots so I imagine there is a very long history of not being aligned with Catholicism in this area. It just seems a bit foreign and strange to us.


Perhaps you should take a step into a larger world.

God love you,


Actually what you are saying is not that unusual. Where I live, in Cleveland, Ohio, the Catholic Church used to have nationality parishes. The Irish did not go to the Italian parish, nor did the Germans go to the Polish parish, etc. Nowadays, there is very little emphasis on nationality, although there still are a few parishes in the Diocese of Cleveland that have Mass in Spanish, Polish or German (but they also have English Mass at those parishes at other times–and usually only 1 Mass in the other language but 2 or more in English).

I belong to the historical society in my neighbourhood, and we had a presentation about church history. Many Protestant Churches also were nationality based during the same time period (mid to late 19th century to mid 20th century) that the Catholic ones were. For instance, German Services were held at several Lutheran parishes. A few Lutheran parishes still have a German Service.


I like it here but thanks for the offer;) Family has been in this county 200 years and see no reason to leave now.
Seriously I don’t think you people understand the near complete lack of you church here. If someone lived here and wished to attend Mass they would spend the better part of an hour driving on sunday morning. Your evangalization/church planting efforts are sorely lacking


I can only reckon the Catholic missionaries to be lazy.
Those Jehovah Witness and Mormons have no problem knocking on the doors of Baptists, Methodists etc. here on the mountain and inviting us to join their respective outfits.:wink:


I hear you
my parish in Cleveland participated in Connective Ministries, an Appalachian mission sponsored by Glenmary Missionaries, whose special charism has been for 100 years, bringing the Catholic message to in the Bible Belt. We travelled to KY or Western VA each year for a week on a work trip, and got to know many fine folks in those mountain towns. Good news is many parishes originally staffed by missionaries have grown to the point where they have permanent diocesan priests assigned. The priests and nuns we met through the years have done marvelous work.

Another effort you should know about is Contemplation Corner Press, inexpensive apologetics resources produced and written largely by Catholic teens in order to evangelize unchurched and fundamentalists in their area–in this case Tennessee. Rock It’s A Catholic Thing is a Q&A of basic Catholic doctrine and practice, and Rosary It’s a Catholic Thing is a compilation of meditations and pictures done by the teens. yes, Catholics are evangelizing in your area, which sadly like other parts of the country is losing its foundational Christian culture to secularism. Dioceses in areas like Memphis, Raleigh, Birminghanm, Charlotte, W. Va and other Appalachian regions are among the fastest growing in the country. This is in part due to influx of Hispanics, but also through conversion rates higher than the rest of the country.

Catholic Extension is the bishops project for evangelizing the poorest regions of our country, which often are the areas also where Catholics are least known, but those demographics are also changing. Not every part of the South is devoid of Catholic presence. Of course Louisiana has been primarily Catholic throughout its history, and Florida was Catholic long before its first English speaking settlers came to drive out the Seminole.


I hear you, suh. And if you draw a line from north Alabama to the southwest a few hundred miles, you end up in south Louisiana where EVERYONE is mostly Catholic and those same folks you talk about are every bit as foreign and strange to us - except they’re Scot-Irish English.

And yet we share a common history. We stood side by side with your folks on the plains of Chalmette in 1815 with Andy Jackson as surely as we stood side by side in the Mexican War and the War of Northern Agression and all the wars since.

You ever been down here? If you haven’t, come and see what Catholic Southerners are all about. We’re Irish (without a doubt) and Scot (but of the Catholic variety) and we love and eat grits too - just like you. We’re no less Southern than you and down here, we are the majority.

So, I claim Southern heritage ( I qualify for the SCV), my ancestors were Catholic and those ancestors of mine who came from protestant Tennessee and Alabama prior to the War of 1812 converted to Catholicism - two of whom served on Andy Jackson’s staff at the Battle of New Orleans…after they converted.

We should compare notes. My immediate family and I are pioneers. We are Catholic. We moved 20 miles north in 1992, still in south Louisiana, yet there is no Catholic church in my town. It was quite a shock. And yet, I am a Southerner. I know my history enough to recognize that picture of Nathan Bedford Forrest on the bumper sticker along with knowing what “Ride with the Best” means. And what it meant for Catholics.

I give you an open invitation. Whenever you are ready, I’ll give you a tour that will convince you that we were Southern once and Catholic. And I’ll show you a side of our Southern heritage that you are not aware of. The Catholic South ranges from Pensacola across the Gulf Coast to Galveston, up the Mississippi River to Natchez and Vicksburg and then over to San Antonio.

Rene Pierre Toutant Beauregard - Confederate general. Commander of the forces in place against Ft. Sumter in Charleston harbor in April 1861. He authorized the firing against Ft. Sumter. He was Catholic. He was from New Orleans. A few hundred miles and you are the foreigner…or are you?


Without a doubt there are Catholics who are true Southrons!
My dear friend Dr. Christopher Cummins of Mississippi is as Catholic as one can be. I was speaking of Appalachia and Northern Alabama rather than Dixie as a whole;)
My family has been here since before the Cherokee Removal, in fact another William Potter was the first postmaster in this part of the Cherokee Nation and another William Potter ran a Christian mission for the Cherokee here in the 1820’s (My name is popular, apparently), prior to that the relatives lived in the Eastern Shore of Maryland and in Virginia back to the 1600’s. We were the old tobacco growing eastern seaboarders prior to coming to the mountain. Handy, De Chiel, Cannon, Sewall, McCurdy, Talbot and Potter are the main/oldest American names in my tree. Perhaps you are branch kin;)


Speaking of my “Talbot” ancestors, one of them had some hand of stealing from some monastaries during Tudor Jr.'s time, there is a chapter on him in the family genealogy records at the library, he was an earl of something or other in the old country.


Hate to disagree with you, but I don’t think you will find anyone around here that considers Charlotte (by which I assume you mean Charlotte, NC), Raleigh, or Memphis to be considered part of Appalachia. I am not sure about Birmingham, though I don’t think so, but I will certainly grant you W.Va.:smiley:


Sandsmountainsli is absolutely correct. I grew up in the Piedmont region of NC on the edge of the largest city between Atlanta and DC (sitll live here) and did not meet anyone that I knew was Catholic until I was in high school (though we did have a small Catholic church here) and no one who was Jewish until I was in college (only in the last couple of years has my hometown gotten a Jewish congregation). Bear in mind that the city I mentioned had and still has an extensive Catholic school system and network of churches, as well as a large Jewish community, it just didn’t cross county lines very well and still doesn’t :slight_smile:

Things in the area have changed over the last 25 years however, and now there is a lot more diversity of religion in the larger cities. There are still counties in NC who have no Catholic churches at all.


Nope, Birmingham is too far south, the mountains dwindle down to nothing about the time you get there;) My beloved Sand Mountain and Lookout Mountain are at the very southern end of Appalachia and they end before Bham.


The War of Northern Agression? Andrew Jackson? Yikes! :eek: The south you’re talking about is just a bit too southern for me. I can’t really escape the image of slavery involved… Nope, I think I’m a lincoln man.



What you are missing m friend is that I am Catholic and southern. My folks served on Andy Jackson’s staff at the battle of New Orleans. They served in the Mexican War of the 1840s. They served in the War of Northern Agression. I don’t need to prove to you that I am not foreign…You’re foreign to me but Wait! We’re both southerners!


Do you realize that Andrew Jackson commanded the forces against the British invasion of New Orleans in 1815 and has nothing to do with the Civil War? Do you realize that sandmountainslis is speaking about his ancestors of the time who…

Your point is made, Catholiq. Andrew Jackson has as much to do with the War Between the States as Jimmy Carter has to do with WWII.

Apples and oranges. Plums and pears. As far as the East is from the West.



i think in some regard this is true of the entire united states… catholics and catholicism is looked at suspiciously by many people, and it has always been this way.

que Dios te bendiga


Lincoln was born in Kentucky :wink:

As to slavery there were Federalist states that had slaves too. Don’t be afraid of the South we’re a friendly lot. If you like music, food heavily graced with flavor, sunny days, warm nights, and beautiful scenery where ever you look then you’ll probably like the South.

Welcome to God’s country :slight_smile:

Hate to disagree with you, but I don’t think you will find anyone around here that considers Charlotte (by which I assume you mean Charlotte, NC), Raleigh, or Memphis to be considered part of Appalachia. I am not sure about Birmingham, though I don’t think so, but I will certainly grant you W.Va.

While Puzzleannie may have been generalizing Southern Geography her point is that the South is one American Catholicism’s fastest growing areas. Who knows one day the South may become the center of American Catholicism. That would be awesome! For right now though our Churches are not many but they’re mighty :thumbsup:

I do get what you’re saying Sandmountainsli, a lot of the difference in population is really due to history. Some parts of the South were very hostile to Catholics in the old days and had the laws to prove it. After all of that eased up the South East still didn’t get many immigrants.

My dad’s family was Catholic when they first came here back in the 1600’s. Well originally they were in Haiti, and then moved into Louisiana and California. After the War Between the States my Great Great Grandfather moved into North Carolina. My Great Grandfather married a Baptist Girl and while he stayed Catholic their children were raised Baptist. I think it was just easier to do it that way because of the lack of parish churches.

Today I’m reclaiming our family heritage, but it is true that the Catholic Church has had a difficult history in much of the south.


Was this directed at me?
You must have missed my post where I stated that I am aware that there are many Catholic Southrons and that a dear friend of mine in Mississippi is one of them;)
I am going to leave this thread now as someone has mentioned Lincoln and if I stay I fear I shall lose control of my senses, I will leave this link for anyone interested in the truth of history
Otherwise I shall say no more here on the subject.


Okay then I know diddly.



Weren’t directed at you other than I know there ain’t many Catholics up in your neck of the woods. Just tryin’ to remind you that there’s a whole bunch of us down my way and we’re Southern too. :smiley: I run from Abe too.:stuck_out_tongue:


I did not mean to imply that all those cities are part of Appalachia, only that Catholics are sparse in those mountain areas, as well as in other Southern cities, but that the demographics in many dioceses are changing.

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