US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Out of many, one

Online Editor | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
An American motto rings true for the church in the United States, says Drew Nelson.

Guest blog post by Drew Nelson

E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.

The expression has been the United States de facto national motto since 1782, if Wikipedia is correct.  The line has a scriptural feel to it as it rolls off the tongue. It seems like something a psalm writer scribbled in a moment of inspiration.

Out of one many. Out of 50 states, we have one United States.

American federalism defers to the states on certain issues. States are laboratories of democracy, to paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, as lawmakers adapt to changing situations that best reflect their constituents’ values. We are seeing that now with civil marriage and immigration. 

And when the church is at its best, we live up to the ideal of the Latin phrase, too.

With our country’s history, the American Catholic Church is a kaleidoscope of colors and languages and traditions and customs.

In my adopted home of Atlanta, we have a diversity of churches, from Our Lady of Lourdes, an African-American parish started by Saint Katherine Drexel, and the Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Church, where Vietnamese refugees celebrates the faith.  And in many other parishes, the colors and languages of the pew sitters are as varied as the globe. 

No matter the national origin, we are one body of faith.  

I am proud to be an American Catholic, where newcomers come to a new country where they can worship and add to the rich diversity of the Catholic Church. I am proud to be an American where we are guided by an obscure Latin phrase that draws us all together as Americans, not apart.

Out of many, one.


Drew Nelson lives in Atlanta.

In honor of our country's official birthday, we're asking U.S. Catholic friends and readers what's unique about being an American Catholic. To submit your answer (about 200-600 words), e-mail by July 6.

 Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.