U.S. Province History
From the first Spiritan who served in Baltimore in 1794 to the unification of the provinces in 2009, the U.S. Spiritans have been helping the poor and marginalized around the world. Rooted in the missionary spirit of our founders, Claude Poullart des Places and Francis Libermann, Spiritans go where the need is the greatest.
The Congregation of the Holy Spirit established a new province in the U.S. in 1872 with establishments in Arkansas and Pittsburgh to serve minority and immigrant communities. Spiritan presence in the U.S. was primarily among African-Americans in previously Confederate States and Northern Cities while serving German and Polish immigrants in newly industrialized cities. Very special focus came through St. Katharine Drexel’s vision and financial support for ministry to the African-American community.
The commitment to education in the U.S. began in 1878 when Spiritans founded Duquesne University, an internationally recognized Catholic university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, whose humble beginning was a school for the education of the children of the immigrant poor.
In 1964 the U.S. Province was divided into the Eastern and Western Provinces of the United States, which were reunified as the Congregation of the Holy Spirit Province of the United States in 2009.
Today there are about 100 Spiritans in 17 parishes in the United States; in various educational works, such as Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, PA, and in different justice and peace ministries at the service of the poor. Twenty-five percent of all American-born Spiritans are working in many international missions of the Congregation including Tanzania, Vietnam, South Africa, Mexico, Philippines and the Dominican Republic. Another fifty Spiritans, mostly from Africa and Ireland, work and study in the U.S. Whether speaking out in pastoral leadership, educating our youth, advocating social justice, or shepherding parish communities, the Spiritans are involved in the important work of evangelization. Serving and relating to people on the margins is a trademark of Spritans wherever you find us.