'Laity's Directory' for 1822

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XIX (2) start of chapter

The most authentic and accurate information as to the condition of the American Church towards the latter part of the first quarter of the present century is afforded by the 'Laity's Directory' for 1822,(28) This little compilation deserves notice, not only because of the contrast it offers to the great volume of the present day, but that it enables us to behold how feeble and comparatively insignificant was the Catholic body of the first quarter of this century as compared with its present magnitude and power. At the time it was published, not many pages were required for the ordinary purposes of a directory and calendar; and on analysing the 138 pages of which the little volume is composed, I find there are not more than 50 devoted to such purpose; and of these 50 pages 10 are occupied with obituaries of deceased prelates and priests, and 11 more are devoted to a single institution, and an account of the Society of Jesus in the United States. In fact, less than a dozen pages of Sadlier's voluminous directory of the present year would amply suffice for an epitome of the ecclesiastical intelligence of 1822. But, according to the advertisement, it was intended 'to accompany the Missal, with a view to facilitate the use of the same.' Revised and corrected by an eminent Irish priest—the Rev. John Power of New York—it testifies in every line of its historical and descriptive matter to his piety and eloquence.