In the late 19th and early 20th century the Catholic clergy of the Dabrowa Industrial Basin expanded their presence in the life of the community. In addition to its traditional religious, educational and charitable functions, the Church became actively engaged in the building of modern institutions of public life. Local priests participated in the organizing and running of voluntary fire brigades and cooperatives (popular savings and mutual assistance societies, consumer co-operatives, and farmers' associations). They also encouraged and supported various cultural, social and vocational initiatives. In choosing such an active role the Church sought no doubt to broaden its influence, undermined by modern secularization, as well as to propagate Catholicism in more attractive forms. Given the high social status of the clergy even less active involvement on their part, ie. accepting an honorary chairmanship or a seat on the governing board, carried a considerable prestige bonus to any new association. Of the two patterns of participation in public life the one characterized by direct, active involvement prevailed in the urban-industrial part of the region, while the other, more passive, was more typical of the traditional rural areas. The fact that Orthodox and Protestant clergymen were less active in the social field may be explained by the small numbers of their congregations.