Timeline of American Catholic History

A Century of Missionaries, 1600–1700

During the 1600s French and British activity in the New World challenged the early dominance of Spain. The first English Catholics arrived in Maryland in the 1630s, forming one of the foundations on which the Church in the United States would be built. In Maryland and the other British colonies prior to the Revolution, the status of Catholicism would range from tolerated to proscribed. Priests, therefore, remained few and scattered, leading a missionary existence even among the settled towns of the East Coast. Meanwhile, French missionaries labored in the St. Lawrence Valley and sometimes—as with Marquette and Joliet—joined explorers in charting the territories of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Although Catholic missionaries continued to suffer much hardship, often with little visible reward, they occasionally enjoyed success in the way of native acceptance of Christianity. Mohawk convert Kateri Tekakwitha embraced Catholicism and furnished an example of heroic sanctity for native and immigrant Americans alike.

1600 A Century of Missionaries

1634 Catholic settlers arrive in Maryland

1645 Protestants control Maryland, Fr. Andrew White exiled to England

1646 St. Isaac Jogues and companions killed by Iroquois

1673 Fr. Marquette and Joliet undertake Mississippi expedition

1675 Fr. François Vaillant ordained in Quebec

1675 Fr. Louis Hennepin arrives in North America

1676 Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha converts to Catholicism

1689 Fr. Claude Allouez dies in Indiana