Secular modernity and Catholic tradition: Finding God in the machinery of the Industrial Revolution

Donald M Demers, Salve Regina University


Much of the contemporary research on secular modernity versus Catholic tradition pits one against the other, a religion versus technology, or faithfulness versus secularism scenario, whereby religious thought, practice, and institutions lose their shared meaning in the face of rising technological obscurism. This dissertation examines the challenges that Catholic tradition faced in the countenance of secular modernity and how religious congregations worked to overcome these societal challenges. It is meant to question the concept that the onslaught of modernity at the beginning of the European Industrial Revolution signaled the demise of Catholicism in France. It shows, utilizing the letters and writings of Father Andre Coindre, founder of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, that there were those working from within the Church who were re-Christianizing their native land while at the same time incorporating the burgeoning technology into both ministry and mission. This research illustrates how the establishment of educational institutions in Lyon by the Brothers was ordered so that their young charges could find God in the machinery of the Industrial Revolution. It is only through these connections with the modernisms of the past that we can learn how to re-engage with the sacred and give it a place amongst the clutter of the profane that we have thrown up around ourselves.

Subject Area

Religious history|European history|Philosophy|Modern history

Recommended Citation

Demers, Donald M, "Secular modernity and Catholic tradition: Finding God in the machinery of the Industrial Revolution" (2011). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI3483267.