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.
- Ph.D., University of Notre Dame
- M.A., University of Notre Dame
- B.A., Fordham University
Pennsylvania State University Press, 2013
"The Church in Prosperity, Depression, and War, 1910-1945" in This Far by Faith: Tradition and Change in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, ed. David Contosta, Pennsylvania State University Press, June 2012
The Parochial Enterprise: Financing Institutional Growth in the Brick-and-Mortar Era, American Catholic Studies, September 2010
"‘Representatives of All that is Noble’:The Rise of the Episcopal Establishment in Early Twentieth Century Philadelphia", Religion and American Culture, 19(1), December 2009
"The Church in the Changing City: Parochial Restructuring in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in Historical Perspective", U.S. Catholic Historian, September 2009
Seton Hall University, University Research Council, Summer Research Grant, 2012.