New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1955. First edition. Octavo, original blue cloth, original pictorial dust jacket. Small ink stamps to front endpaper, verso of title page, Early owner signatures (one dated 4/22/55), owner ink-stamps to front endpaper and title page verso, minor wear to dust jacket. A near-fine copy. Item #1447
"THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED TO THE LONGSHOREMEN OF THE PORT OF NEW YORK"
First edition of Waterfront Priest, Allen Raymond's story of a Jesuit priest with "a Seaport for a Parish" and his "one-man crusade against gangsterism and terror on the New York waterfront." In a bright, unclipped example of the original photographic dust jacket. This copy appears to be signed by Father Corridan.
A collaboration between Raymond, a New York newspaperman and Father John M. Corridan of the Society of Jesus, Waterfront Priest profiles the dockside ministry of Father Corridan and his efforts to promote a balance between the competing interests of business, government, labor, and organized crime. A brief Foreword urges a social justice built on the charity of Christ: "The Church teaches not only that social justice should govern the relationship between labor and management, but also that their relationship should be impregnated with the charity of Christ." Published shortly after the movie On The Waterfront, the book features an Introduction by Budd Schulberg ("New Hope, PA / January 13, 1955") which raises the specter of Father Corridan's involvement in politics: "What's a Catholic priest doing on the waterfront? Is this a rendering to God of the things that are Caesar's?" Described by Schulberg as a "ruddy-faced Irishman whose speech was a fascinating blend of Hell's Kitchen jargon, baseball slang, the facts and figures of a master in economics, and the undeniable humanity of Christ," Father Corridan's involvement with the longshoremen went beyond the solidarity of the contemporary "Labor Priests" to offer structural support to working men.
The Xavier Labor School, founded in 1936 and sponsored by the Jesuits, was a partnership between the Church and Labor providing moral and practical instruction on Industrial Ethics. "Xavier Labor School taught an incarnational theology that viewed the work of unloading ships, building cars and laboring in the mines as a vocation, a call to sanctity" (Joseph J. Fahey). The Xavier Labor School developed courses for union men in Parliamentary Procedure, the History of Trade Unionism, Communism and Union Labor, Public Speaking, Unionism and Sound Organization. A contemporary Jesuit observer commented: "It is obvious that most men who belong to unions need some, or all of these courses. Some would have no knowledge of the history and tactics of unionism, others would have this necessary background, but would be unable to hold the floor in a union hall against a hostile, heckling crowd. Some would not be able to recognize Communists or Communism in their unions unless Earl Browder rose to speak, others would be quick to recognize the Red Hand of Moscow, but would be easily sidestepped by the chairmen of the meetings, because of their ignorance of the rules of parliamentary procedure. Thus the courses were designed to train constructive, well-informed, Catholic, American, union men, who knew what to say or do, how to go about it, and who could handle themselves under all circumstances." The courses for union men were taught "with one or two exceptions by reliable, experienced Catholic laymen. Jesuits tend to be too academic and theoretical in treating with these men, and there is the additional difficulty that in such classes the men in trying to show the proper respect for priests feel constrained and not free to air their difficulties" (Philip Dobson). With an Index. Joseph J. Fahey. The Making of a Catholic Labor Leader. America magazine (August 28, 2006); Philip E. Dobson, S.J.. The Xavier Labor School, 1938-1939 (Woodstock Letters, October 1, 1939).