Tia Noelle Pratt, PhD is a higher education professional and researcher based in Philadelphia, PA. A sociologist of religion by training, her research specializes in the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S. Currently, she is the inaugural Scholar-in-Residence at the Aquinas Center in Philadelphia, PA for 2018-19. She is also the President and Director of Research at TNPratt & Associates, LLC. Dr. Pratt’s research focuses primarily on systemic racism in the U.S. Catholic Church and its impact on African-American Catholic identity. Additionally, Dr. Pratt conducts research on millennial generation Catholics and their attitudes towards pro-life teachings.
Using ethnography and in-depth interviews, her research 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 investigates 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.
This work contributes to a broader understanding of social institutions that is necessary as society becomes increasingly racially diverse and the millennial generation takes on expanding leadership roles.