Encyclopedia ofChicago
Entries : Catholic Youth Organization
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Catholic Youth Organization

 

 

 

Catholic Youth Organization

Officially founded in 1930, the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) built upon previously initiated Holy Name Societies in parishes throughout the Chicago Archdiocese. Centralized in a downtown office and led by the legendary and controversial Bishop Bernard J. Sheil, the CYO sought to combat delinquency, Americanize ethnic Catholics, and bridge social divisions during the Great Depression. Whereas previous Americanization efforts of Cardinal George Mundelein had met with meager success, the CYO fostered widespread Catholic unity even as it furthered the Church's inclusion in the mainstream culture. The CYO offered a wide-ranging system of social services, community centers, and vacation schools; but its greatest publicity resulted from an extensive and comprehensive sports program that claimed the world's largest basketball league (430 teams) and an international boxing team. Such CYO ventures included American Indians, African Americans, Asians, and Jews, which catapulted Bishop Sheil to national prominence as a social activist and labor leader.

Bibliography
Gems, Gerald R. “Sport, Religion, and Americanization: Bishop Sheil and the Catholic Youth Organization.” International Journal of the History of Sport 10:2 (August 1993): 233– 241.
Carroll, Mary Elizabeth “Bishop Sheil: Prophet without Honor.” Harper's Magazine 211.1266 (1955): 45–51.
Treat, Roger L. Bishop Sheil and the CYO. 1951.