A History of the New York State Catholic Conference
1916 - 1968

The Bishops of New York State exhibited great foresight in establishing the first State Catholic Conference in the United States in 1916. (The next State Catholic Conference to be established was the Ohio State Catholic Conference created in 1945.) These leaders were also instrumental in organizing the first meeting in 1919 of what would subsequently become the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. From that 1919 meeting, the bishops put forward a pastoral letter on social justice that in many ways was the blueprint for the New Deal programs of the 1930’s.

For the first fifty years of its existence, through the leadership of the Bishops and two outstanding executives, Charles J. Tobin Sr. (1916-1954) and Charles J. Tobin Jr., (1954-1980) the church executed significant influence on the evolution of public policy in health care, education, social services, and the tax policy, among many other areas.

Especially notable was the involvement and influence of church leaders in the two constitutional conventions held during this time period, 1938 and 1967.

By the mid-1960’s, as the role of the federal government and state governments was significantly expanding, the Bishops saw the need for more specialized attention to various pubic policy questions and began to hire additional professional staff with expertise in particular areas.

The evolution of these more specialized activities over the last forty years is described in subsequent volumes.


Jack Balinsky
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