‘The Dark Past Has Taught Us...The Hope that the Present Has Brought Us:’ How Race and Religion Inform Theology Instruction at Jesuit High Schools
Author(s)DeLeon, Loren Adam
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AbstractCatholic schools in urban areas have historically served disenfranchised communities in the United States to teach and support the faith. The cultures of ethnic white Eastern European immigrants were easily expressed in the religious educational environment because the priests and nuns who taught in these Catholic schools were usually of the same ethnic heritage; e.g. Polish priests and nuns taught Polish Catholic students, Irish priests and nuns taught Irish Catholic students. When the Catholic Church began to respond to the needs outside of Eastern European immigrants, e.g. Latinx, Asians, African Americans, and native Americans, in urban settings, the nuns, the priests, and teachers remained predominantly white, while the ethnic and racial demographic of the students changed. As these white Eastern European populations fled to the suburbs, Catholic schools in urban areas have increasingly taught African American students, some of whom are Catholic, but many of them are not. I am interested in exploring how Catholic, Jesuit high schools meet the needs of African American students, with a special interest in examining the intersection of race and religion. Using Black Catholic Theology and Critical Pedagogy, the purpose of this study is to investigate the way race and religion influence the practice of teachers at Catholic, Jesuit high schools that serve minority students. What has really been understudied and under-theorized is the experience of teachers in urban, Catholic schools were the student demographic is predominantly African American. The focus of this dissertation will be high school Theology teachers who work in a setting where race and religion always play a constitutive role in Catholic education and the role teacher's play in their understanding and experience of race and religion influencing student learning.