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Encyclopedia Dubuque


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GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC CENTRAL ASSOCIATION. The Catholic Central Verein of America was founded in 1855 as the German Roman Catholic Central Society of North America (Deutsche Römisch-Katholische Central-Verein von Nord Amerika). It began as a central alliance of German Catholic organizations from all over the United States that was established at a founding Convention in Baltimore, Maryland. Annual conventions have been held in cities around the country since 1855. (1)

In 1907 representatives of German Catholic societies in Dubuque met in ST. MARY'S CASINO. These included the Saint Vincent de Paul Society from each Catholic church, Marquette Court C.O.F, St. Stephen Branch R.C.M.P.S., Holy Ghost Court C.O.F., Holy Name Society, St. Boniface Young Men's Society, St. John Nepomuk Society, Dubuque Luxemburger Protective Society, LaSalle Court C.O.F., and the Pius-Alphonse Society. Sub-committees were formed and initial arrangements were made for the convention of the Association to be held in Dubuque in September. Nicholas E. GONNER, Sr., a member of the national board of the Association, was elected the president of the planning committee. (2) Dubuque was the smallest city in which the national convention had been held up to that time. (3)

An estimated 20,000 people crowded the Milwaukee railroad depot to greet Monsignor Falconia, the Papal delegate to the convention. A group of one hundred Dubuque residents were appointed to meet the train in Sabula and accompany the delegate into the city. Another party of fifty joined the train in Bellevue. Delegates attended from thirty-one states. (4) The convention received congratulations from the 54th General Convention of the Catholics of Germany and was personally attended by Dr. Frank Bitter, a member of the Center Faction of the German Reichstag. (5)

In 1908, the Central Bureau was established in St. Louis, Missouri, to co-ordinate the activities of the Central Verein. A monthly magazine, the Central-Blatt and Social Justice, began publication in St. Louis with the intended purpose to promote Christian humanism respecting the dignity and rights of all human beings. It was continued as the bimonthly Social Justice Review. (6)

The purpose of the Central Verein was the promotion of Catholic practice, Christian virtue, and works of charity; spreading the knowledge and love of God; and helping to effect a Christian reconstruction of society based on the principles of the great papal social encyclicals of the 19th century and later. Among the noteworthy achievements of the Central Verein were its successful support of laws enabling credit unions, establishing workmen's compensation, and permitting public school buses to transport Catholic schoolchildren. (7)

During and after the WORLD WAR II, the Central Bureau of the Central Verein served until the 1950s as the official agency of the Archdiocese of St. Louis for resettling refugees and displaced persons from Europe and other places. In more recent years, the Central Bureau has conducted humanitarian aid work in Central America. (8)

No longer a specifically-German society, the Central Verein and its Central Bureau have adapted their activities for the good of people of all ethnic backgrounds. The decline in membership of German ethnic organizations in the United States has left the publication of the Social Justice Review as the Central Bureau's main activity. (9)

It also maintains a library at its headquarters in St. Louis, mainly devoted to the social sciences and German-Americana, publications in German in the United States. In the 21st century, most of the annual meetings of the Central Verein have been held at the Central Bureau. (10)



1. "German Roman Catholic Central Verein of North America," Wikipedia, Online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Roman_Catholic_Central_Verein_of_North_America

2. "One of the Moving Spirits in the Big Convention, Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, September 8, 1907, p. 1

3. "Germans Make Splendid Plans," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, February 15, 1907, p. 5

4. "Dubuque in Royal Welcome to Falconia," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, September 8, 1907, p. 1

5. "Exchange Greetings Between German and German-American Catholics," The Telegraph-Herald, September 9, 1907, p. 1

6. "German Roman..."

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.