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Catholic Art Association Materials, Ade Bethune Papers

Identifier: ABC-09-CAA


These materials reflect the activities of Bethune as a member of The Catholic Art Association from its inception in 1937 to its dissolution in 1970. The collection also contains correspondence that dates up to 2000 regarding the organization, its publications, and its members.

The collection comprises mostly correspondence, CAA publications and copies of published articles, photos, and sketches and textual materials created for use in organizing the 1966 Living Stones Convention. Also included are organizational documents and sheet music. Of particular importance is correspondence between Bethune and other members of the CAA including Father Thomas Phelan, who served as CAA president; Sister Esther Newport, founder of CAA; and Sister M. Jeanne, who served as Catholic Art Quarterly editor.


  • 1937 - 2000


About Ade Bethune

Adélaïde de Bethune (1914-2002), known as Ade Bethune, was born in Brussels, Belgium. She and her family immigrated to the United States and settled in New York in 1928. There, she attended Cathedral High School, the National Academy of Design, and Cooper Union. Newport, Rhode Island became her permanent home in 1938.

During the early 1930s Bethune met Dorothy Day and became involved with the Catholic Worker movement. Her contributions of drawings and articles for The Catholic Worker newspaper gave her experience in developing her artistic talents and editorial skills. Peter Maurin, who founded the Catholic Worker movement along with Day, encouraged Bethune to speak in public, helping shape her abilities to lecture and advocate for others. Also, through The Catholic Worker she met, worked with, and was influenced by Graham Carey of Newport, RI, who was a co-founder of the Catholic Art Association (CAA). Bethune’s liturgical art and social activism helped shape the rest of her life’s work.

Ade Bethune spoke at the Catholic Art Association’s first Eastern Regional Conference in 1939, held in Baltimore, and also at the 3rd annual Convention at the College of St. Catherine in October of that same year. Her talk was later published in the association’s journal, Catholic Art Quarterly (CAQ), as “The Person and the Industrial Counter-Revolution.” Over the years, Bethune wrote several articles and contributed artwork to the publication. In addition she served as its editor from 1947-1951 and as a contributing editor from 1961-1965.

Bethune and other New England members of CAA's Eastern regional group formed the Atlantic regional group in 1940. She was elected its first Director in 1940 and served as director until 1947, when the Atlantic group reunited with the Eastern region. During 1946 and 1947 she was chairman of the national Exhibits Committee. After she stepped down as Catholic Art Quarterly editor Bethune was head of publications for the Education Committee, 1951-1956. In this capacity she helped produce the Catholic Elementary Art Guide, designed to help teachers broaden their instruction. Later, she served as the Convention and Workshop Committee chairman in 1965-1966 and was instrumental in organizing the 1966 CAA Living Stones Convention-Workshop in Houston, Texas. From 1967-1970 she served on the CAA's Board of Directors. She agreed to serve a second term, but by late 1970 the Catholic Art Association had largely ceased to exist.

Bethune’s work and writings for the CAA were strongly intertwined with her liturgical design work. Articles that she wrote for Catholic Art Quarterly beginning in the 1950s foreshadowed many of the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council. These articles were very influential and earned her a reputation as a liturgical consultant. A strong proponent of Vatican II and its architectural and procedural changes within the Catholic Church, Bethune worked to design and renovate churches to meet these new, open guidelines. She remained active as a liturgical designer and consultant until the early 1990s.

Ade Bethune died in her long time home of Newport, Rhode Island on May 1, 2002.

About The Catholic Art Association

The Catholic Art Association (CAA) was founded in 1937 by Sister Esther Newport, SP. of St. Mary-of-the-Woods, Terre Haute, IN and Graham Carey, an architect and liturgical art critic. It was founded to help facilitate dialogue about the use of art in religious practices and also to establish some principles to guide the creation of Christian art for church use, in education, and in the home. The CAA aimed to do this through exhibitions, yearly conventions, and its publications.

Its main publication, The Catholic Art Quarterly, was sent as a benefit of membership and was published from 1937 to 1970. It was also published under the name "Christian Social Art Quarterly" (1937-1940) and later as "Good Work" (1959-1970). Another CAA publication was The Catholic Elementary Art Guide, designed to "help teachers working in such curricula to broaden their instruction and increase its value to the children entrusted to their care."

Graham Carey served as advisor of the CAA throughout its existence, but organizational changes occurred when Sister Esther left the CAA in 1958. The organization dissolved in 1970, the same year that its major source of funding, a grant from the Homeland Foundation, ended.


4 Linear Feet ((4.5 Boxes and 17 bound volumes) plus 2 oversized folders)

Language of Materials



This collection contains materials relating to Ade Bethune as a member of The Catholic Art Association. It is mostly made up of correspondence, CAA publications and copies of published articles, photos, and sketches and textual materials created in organizing a national convention.


This collection is arranged in 4 groups.

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Ade Bethune donated her personal and business papers, sketches, artwork, books, and artifacts to the College of St Catherine (now St. Catherine University) over the period from 1984-2002.

Related Materials

Bethune's correspondence with Graham Carey refers frequently to CAA issues and activities. See Personal Correspondence, Series 2: Bethune-Carey Correspondence

A collection of Catholic Art Association Records is held at the University of Notre Dame Archives.

Related Materials

The Catholic Art Association Records are held at the University of Notre Dame Archives.

Processing Information

The Collection was processed and the finding aid written by Louann Terveer, May 2011.


Guide to Catholic Art Association Materials Ade Bethune Papers
Louann Terveer, MLIS Graduate Student
May 2011
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Processing of the collection and production of this finding aid made possible by a CLIR "Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives" grant with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Repository Details

Part of the St. Catherine University Special Collections Repository

St. Catherine University
Archives and Special Collections
2004 Randolph Avenue
St. Paul MN 55105 U.S.A.