The Spirit of Vatican II, by Colleen McDannell

Colleen McDannell confesses that integrating family history with scholarship is not for the faint of heart. In this valiant attempt McDannell tells the story of her Catholic parents in tandem with a discussion of the changes that were played out in the 20th century in the Catholic Church as a whole.

Because of her father's work requirements, McDannell's parents moved frequently. She traces their marriage from the suburbs of Toledo to California to Colorado to West Virginia, and finally to retirement in Florida, and she reconstructs the parochial culture of the various Catholic parishes along the way. She learned that the Catholic passion for the parochial school was a key part of what was called the "parish plant" and that as people became more mobile and the post–World War II suburbs accommodated more diverse populations, the old paradigm of the Catholic neighborhood gave way to a more porous sociological picture.


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