Picking the Top 10 Cities — a behind-the-scenes look

Summer is almost here, and along with it are OSV Newsweekly’s picks for the Top 10 Catholic cities in the United States. The staff had a great time putting together this summer feature, and we hope the small snapshots of each locale prove both edifying and entertaining.

A little background about the selection process: OSV Newsweekly put out a call on social media and the OSV Daily Take blog for readers to send in their picks for Top 10 consideration. The response was terrific, and readers recommended both large cities and small towns. (It’s worth noting here that not all of those selected qualify statistically as a “city,” but for simplicity’s sake we grouped everything together under one name.)

The list, a blend of both staff and reader input, can be found in this week’s In Focus (Pages 9-12).

Admittedly, this is a subjective list. No fast and hard formula was used; no scientific standards of measurement were applied. But, with the help of Kathleen Cummings, associate professor of American Studies at the University of Notre Dame and director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, four different criteria were considered: a rich Catholic history; a strong Catholic culture, including notable Catholics who are affiliated with the place; a noteworthy Catholic landscape, including Catholic churches, institutions or other landmarks; and opportunities for spiritual renewal.

As Cummings said: “Both what you can see, but also this kind of feeling.”

Some locations selected meet all of those criteria; others only meet one or two. We also wanted a somewhat diverse list, both regarding location size and geographic diversity.

While we were unable to include all suggestions sent in by our readers, I’m grateful for each thoughtful submission. Other cities recommended, but not chosen for the final list, include:

Round Rock, Texas, for its beautiful stained-glass windows in St. William Church; Santa Fe, N.M., and its famous stairs in the old convent; New York City, with St. Patrick’s Cathedral and its many religious orders; Milwaukee, with the Basilica of St. Josaphat; and Edinburg, Texas, and the entire Rio Grande Valley, with its large Hispanic population and thriving Catholic culture.

Thanks to everyone who emailed in or who left their thoughts on our website.

With continuous and increasing talk of the troublesome secularization of the United States, I enjoyed researching and writing about locations with deep Catholic roots. Doing both offered me the opportunity to reflect on, with hope for the future, how much of our country’s past was founded on the Faith. It also inspired me, during my summer travels, to visit Catholic sites beyond just the church I attend for Mass. Maybe you’ll do the same.

Think we missed one? I welcome your comments at feedback@osv.com.

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