The Turning of a Tide

The Turning of a Tide: Ignace Lissner and the Society of African Missions in the USA, marks an important contribution to the study of relationships between the Roman Catholic Church and the African-American communities of the Southern States [of the USA]. In many respects the members of the Society of African Missions who worked in the US faced conditions as severe as those endured by their colleagues working in tropical Africa. Indeed the challenge was arguably greater given the strong opposition to their work from elements within the White community and, more disturbing, from within the American Catholic Church itself.

Showing remarkable resolution and no mean courage, Ignace Lissner and his companions stuck to their task. Their achievement would have been impossible without the support of some far-seeing American Church leaders and by remarkable Americans, not least Saint Katherine Drexel. And behind all, orchestrating the whipping-in of an often reluctant American Church to conformity with the Gospel, stood a group of no-nonsense prelates in Rome, the Prefects of Propaganda Fide, the agency responsible for Missions.

A passionate, stubborn, outspoken man, Lissner, frequently crossed swords, not only with the bishops in whose dioceses he worked, but with his Society Superiors in Europe. Yet in all cases, behind the frustration and exasperation of such relationships, there remained intact an admiration for this Alsatian-born apostle to America’s Blacks.

  • Written by Fr Edmund Michael Hogan SMA, Ph.D. His other works include Catholic Missionaries and Liberia: A Study in Missionary Enterprise [1850 – 1950]; The Irish Missionary Movement: a Historical Survey, currently the standard work on the subject; Berengario Cermenati among the Ebira of Nigeria: A study in Colonial, Missionary and Local Politics, 1897 – 1925 and Cross and Scalpel: Jean-Marie Coquard among the Egba of Yorubaland.
  • Fr Hogan is currently completing a history of the Catholic Church during the Liberian Civil War.
  • The Turning of a Tide: Ignace Lissner …   can be bought on Amazon [about €18], and also on Kindle.
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