The story of American Catholicism since the 19th century is one of social isolation, family devotion, and strict religious doctrine. In contrast, this story is also one of progressive development, Americanization, and the creation of a unique American Catholic identity, even if unintended by the Church. Combining a historical analysis of Catholic movements in the 19th and 20th centuries for Catholic immigrants and their descendants in the Northeastern United States with personal interviews of late 20th century members of my own Catholic family, I argue that the decreasing reliance of later generations of Catholics on Church authority, coupled with friction between changing American values and rigid Catholic beliefs, has made Catholicism substantially a matter of individual choice.