His research focuses on the development of religious institutions and class dynamics within American religious life.
Thomas Rzeznik is a historian of American religion, with a particular interest in the development of religious institutions and the social and economic dynamics at work within American religious life.
He is author of Church and Estate: Religion and Wealth in Industrial Era Philadelphia, which examines the lives and religious commitments of that city’s industrial elite during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It describes how their religious beliefs informed their action and shaped their class identity, while simultaneously revealing the ways that financial influences shaped the character of American religious life as it took its modern form. In tracing those connections, it shows how religion and wealth shared a fruitful, yet ultimately tenuous, relationship.
He is currently working on a history of Saint Vincent’s Hospital (NYC). Established in 1849 by the Sisters of Charity, the religious order founded by Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Vincent’s was the third oldest – and first Catholic – hospital to serve New York City. Over the course of its 160-year history, it was recognized for its commitment to caring for those in need, from the nineteenth-century immigrant poor to the earliest victims of the AIDS epidemic. Its history offers a window into the history of Catholic healthcare in the United States as well as the broader social, religious, political, and economic dynamics at play within American Catholicism.
Since 2013, he has served as co-editor of the American Catholic Studies, the oldest, continuously-published Catholic scholarly journal in the United States.