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The Catholic Studies Reader$
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James T. Fisher and Margaret M. McGuinness

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780823234103

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823234103.001.0001

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“The Story Is What Saves Us”

“The Story Is What Saves Us”

American Catholic Memoirs

(p.19) 1 “The Story Is What Saves Us”
The Catholic Studies Reader



Fordham University Press

Autobiographical works such as Augustine's Confessions are the very foundation of Catholic Studies. Our understanding of the evolution of Catholic life in North America is deeply grounded in life-writings, personal narratives presented in a variety of genres and formats, from travel narratives and traditional memoirs to autobiographical fiction and specialized hybrids. One of the primary functions served by life-writings in Catholic Studies is to remind readers from all denominations, vocations, and walks of life that the Catholic Church is a community composed of individuals whose identities are deeply informed by a common faith and sharply varying experiences of Catholic lived religion. This chapter locates the tradition of American Catholic “life-writing” at the heart of Catholic Studies practice. From the earliest accounts of European explorers to dramatic nineteenth- and twentieth-century conversion narratives by notable Protestants to contemporary chronicles of faith lost or reclaimed, the stories told by American Catholics chart the experience of a community so diverse its shared traditions are both inscribed and invented in these autobiographical narratives.

Keywords:   Catholic Studies, life-writings, personal narratives, Catholic Church, explorers, conversion, Protestants, faith, American Catholics, autobiographical narratives

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