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America's ChurchThe National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and Catholic Presence in the Nation's Capital$
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Thomas A. Tweed

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199782987

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199782987.001.0001

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Mobilizing “America's Marys”

Mobilizing “America's Marys”

Women, Fundraising, and the Mary Memorial Altar, 1913–1938

(p.59) 2 Mobilizing “America's Marys”
America's Church

Thomas A. Tweed

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the fundraising for the Mary Memorial Altar, moving from the first efforts to raise funds for the altar in 1913 to the culmination of those efforts in 1938. It argues that in this period before the full clericalization and centralization of Catholic philanthropy, some middle- and upper-class International Federation of Catholic Alumnae (IFCA) members living in cities, especially on the East Coast, managed to exert some power and play significant roles, just as Hoffman and the women of the National Organization of Catholic Women had done before 1919. Assertively submissive—or submissively assertive—in their relations with the clergy, between 1919 and 1938 the IFCA's leaders rarely challenged priests or bishops, though they certainly prodded them occasionally. At the same time, though they admired Mary's virtuous submission, they were much more than passive subordinates. They led the efforts to raise the money for the Mary Memorial Altar, and focusing on the altar as artifact and metaphor shows how women—both lay elites and ordinary devotees—were absent and present at the Shrine.

Keywords:   Mary Memorial Altar, fundraising, Catholic women, Catholic philanthropy, Virgin Mary

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