Professor, Program Coordinator, Faculty Fellow, McAuley Scholar
History | American Studies
Timothy B. Neary is Chair and Professor of History, as well as Coordinator of American Studies, at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. He earned an A.B. in American studies from Georgetown University and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in history from Loyola University Chicago. His first book, Crossing Parish Boundaries: Race, Sports, and Catholic Youth in Chicago, 1914–1954 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), examines the role of Bishop Bernard Sheil and the Catholic Youth Organization in promoting everyday interracial interactions and cooperation a generation prior to the traditionally recognized start of the modern American civil rights movement and the Second Vatican Council.
Timothy B. Neary
Abstract: The fiftieth anniversary of Bernard Sheil’s death presents an opportunity to examine the legacy of the Catholic Youth Organization’s founder. Born in the late nineteenth century, the second-generation Irish American and Chicago native chose the priesthood over a career in professional baseball. Moving quickly up the ecclesiastical ladder in the Archdiocese of Chicago, Sheil became auxiliary bishop in 1928 at the age of forty-two, rising to vicar general a year later under the patronage of Cardinal George Mundelein. Using sports to attract young people, Sheil founded the CYO in 1930. Known throughout his career by numerous sobriquets, including the “Apostle of Youth,” “Labor’s Bishop,” and the “People’s Bishop,” Sheil, along with Mundelein, was a strong supporter of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. The success of the CYO—racially integrated from its inception—provided a national platform for Sheil, who became known during the Great Depression, World War II, and immediate postwar period as a champion of liberal causes, including racial justice for African Americans, support of organized labor, and opposition to anti-Semitism. Viewed within the context of the challenges facing today’s American Catholic Church, including shifting demographics, clericalism, and the sexual abuse crisis, an examination of Sheil’s leadership offers valuable lessons.
Neary, Timothy B. "Legacies and Lessons from the People's Bishop: Chicago's Bernard J. Sheil (1886–1969)." American Catholic Studies 130, no. 3 (2019): 111-128. doi:10.1353/acs.2019.0056.
McKillop Library Periodicals: E184.C3 A4