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The Hybrid Apostle: A Religious and Cultural Biography of Father Isaac Hecker's Early Life and the Origin of American Catholicism, 1837-1858
AdvisorRaymond, Elizabeth C.
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This thesis explores how Father Isaac Hecker's hybrid religious identity led him to form "American Catholicism" through his experience in various political, religious, and political movements he participated in between 1837-1858. As the son of German immigrants, he grew up in New York City as a member of the working-class. He later participated in reform politics, which led him later to join the Transcendentalist communes at Brook Farm and Fruitlands in 1843. The essence of this study traces the intellectual and cultural movements within Transcendentalism that led Hecker in the direction of joining the Catholic Church. This study demonstrates how he used paradigms, personalities, languages, and literary tropes within Transcendentalism as an account for understanding his conversion to the Catholic Church through a specific movement within American culture. The latter aspect of the thesis demonstrates how Hecker formed American Catholicism through his own understanding of his hybrid religious identity in Transcendentalism and Catholicism during his career as a Catholic missionary priest, book writer, and founder of the first religious community of Catholic priests, the Paulists, in North America.