Even in the first two generations of residency in the states, many Catholic-Americans embraced the humble concept of Church/Neighborhood/Work and not "rising above" the way that Jews and protestants did. It took assimilation into the larger American culture and out of the Catholic Ghetto/urban peasant mentality for upward mobility to take place.
As far as the Catholic world outside the US is concerned, places like Ireland did a cultural about face starting in the 1970s/80s, to say nothing of France earlier under the Orleanists (mid 19th century) and Italy (outside of the south, where the urban peasant attitude continues in places like Naples and Palermo, encouraged by the welfare state) under De Gasperi's reforms of the 1950s.
Cultures (and religions of course) are NOT static, which is why even places like Brazil are seeing a scrapping of the old "ambition as Pride" mentality in both the populace AND the Church (thank you Josemaria Escriva and Opus Dei!). Nevertheless, to deny that such an attitude existed among the Irish, Polish, Italians, Portuguese, and French Canadians, both at home and in the diaspora, would be ahistorical.
--- Clemenza, Descendant of the ambitious ones. :)
That is real similar to the dynamics of Envy in the small tribal situations.
Ambition was the hallmark of my Irish ancestors who came here in the 1720’s. ‘course they were not catholics but they were poor. The first luxury they bought once they accumulated enough assets everyone didn't have to plant fields was - schooling for their kids to give them an advantage
It was not ambition that was looked down on by the European catholic cultures, nor education!! Just ambitions toward certain vocations, maybe.
The Kennedys seemed to be among the first to make public service a desired and attainable vocation for these cultures. Entering the priesthood- required education.
imho you cannot equivocate cultural expectations of “catholics” with the nonexpectations, low expectations, or expectations of entitlement, that taint the educational outcomes of many “families of color”
BTW, my hispanic friends whose kids were taunted and shunned by other hispanics for being too studious and “wasp”- - one graduated Harvard Law and the other from med School- and the taunters? Many came from poor families whose folks were working 2-3 menial jobs to live in the best suburban school district to try and give them a good education so they wouldn't have to work menial jobs.
Go figure (I always thought it would be Clemenza- but Tessio was the smart one)