Saturday, February 18, 2006

Festival Discovery

While at the Catholic Festival of Faith in Rosemont, I had a chance conversation with Sister M. John Vianney, SSCM, who is researching the immigrant foundation of Chicago's Churches, a subject integral to the Bricks and Mortar Foundation. Sr. M John explained that far from the illiterate rubes often potrayed in mainstream history, our immigrant forebearers had a sophisticated knowledge of Church building and finance, starting multinational banks and insurance companies with the implicit backing of the Parish.

One of the least publicized pioneers, Fr. Josef Murga, a Slovakian effectively developed a radio transmit and receive system years before Marconi and Tesla, known as the Murgas System of Wireless Telegraphy. Fr. Murga sent his prayer "Thank God for His blessings" from Wilkes-Barre to Scranton Pennsylvania in 1905, making him the earliest radio operator to send and receive a long distance signal.

Sr. Vianney has a wealth of information regarding our Immigrant pioneers. I look forward to her upcoming publications.

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