Tia Noelle Pratt, PhD is a sociologist of religion specializing in the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. and the 2018-19 Scholar-in-Residence at the Aquinas Center in Philadelphia, PA. She is also the President and Director of Research at TNPratt & Associates, LLC. Dr. Pratt’s research focuses on issues of identity among African-American Catholics, systemic racism in the U.S. Catholic Church, and millennial generation Catholics.
Her research uses ethnography to investigate systemic racism in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States and the attitudes of millennial generation Catholics. This work focuses on the Roman Catholic Church as an institution, providing sociological analysis of race and religion as well as young adults’ engagement with society’s major institutions. Dr. Pratt is currently working on a book project, Black and Catholic, Catholic and Black: Structure, Racism, and Identity in the African-American Catholic Experience. This project draws on ethnographic data describing liturgy as a form of identity work and analyzes how systemic racism in the Catholic Church has resulted in the small number of African-American Catholics. This project will also address parish reorganizations resulting from church closings. It demonstrates that African-American Catholics have combined the dual heritages of Roman Catholicism and African-American religious traditions such as music, preaching, and commitment to social justice to form a singular identity.
Dr. Pratt’s work also examines Roman Catholic young adults’ knowledge of and attitudes towards the Church’s pro-life teachings. Focusing on how their perspectives can serve as a bellwether for the Church’s political strategy. This research demonstrates that without a major shift, the Church risks losing an entire generation of Roman Catholics. In future work, she anticipates focusing on pertinent social justice issues that are of particular concern to the millennial generation including immigration and climate change. She anticipates that by focusing on these issues to specifically engage the millennial generation, the Church can avoid losing an entire generation of Catholics, thus ensuring its own survival.
Her research focuses on the Roman Catholic Church and its impact on African-Americans as a historically marginalized group, as well as young adults as leaders, contribute to a broader understanding of social institutions that is increasingly necessary as society becomes increasingly racially diverse and the millennial generation takes on expanding leadership roles.