Sons of Saint Patrick tells the story of America's premiere Catholic see, the archdiocese of New York—from the coming of French Jesuit priests in the seventeenth century to the early years of Cardinal Timothy Dolan. It includes many intriguing facets of the history of Catholicism in New York, including:
- the early persecution of and legal discrimination against Catholics
- the waves of catholic immigrants, most notably from Ireland
- the Church's rise to power under New York's first archbishop, "Dagger" John Hughes
- the emerging awareness in the Vatican of New York's preeminence
- the clashes between America and Rome over the "Americanist" heresy
- the role New York's archbishops have played in the life of America's greatest city—and in the world
The book focuses on the ten archbishops of New York and shows how they became the indispensable partners of governors and presidents, especially during the war-torn twentieth century. Also discussed are the struggles of the most recent archbishops in the face of demographic changes, financial crises, and clerical sex-abuse cases.
Sons of Saint Patrick is an objective but colorful portrait of ten extraordinary men—men who were saints and sinners, politicians and pastors, and movers and shakers who as much as any other citizens have made New York one of the greatest cities in the world. All ten archbishops have been Irish, either by birth or heritage, but given New York's changing ethnic profile, Cardinal Timothy Dolan may be the last son of Saint Patrick to serve as its archbishop.