Beneficial Influence of good Priests

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER V (6) start of chapter

The influence of really good priests, who combine wisdom with piety—who, in their zeal for the spiritual welfare of their flock, do not overlook their temporal interests and material progress—is at all times most serviceable to the Irish; and nowhere is that influence more required, or more potent when exercised, than in America. Happily for the race, it is exercised very generally throughout that country, and in no instance without the most beneficial results, in their improved tone, their greater industry, and their habits of thrift and saving. The good priests of St. Patrick's—the Sulpitian Fathers of Montreal—employ this salutary influence with results most cheering to witness. It lifts the Irish up; it raises their social condition; it induces them to acquire and accumulate property—in fact, by the very improvements which they are induced to effect, to identify themselves with the progress of the community. To acquire this most desirable influence over an Irish congregation, the priest need not be an Irishman; but he should be wise and pious, and his people should feel that he has sympathy with them. The lack of this essential sympathy is often fatal to the best intentions of the best men: where it exists, it supplies or compensates for the want of many qualities, if not actually essential, at least very valuable in a priest. The good Fathers of St. Patrick's in Montreal—and fortunately they have their like in every direction—in every Province and every State—combine all these requirements; they are wise as well as pious, and they have a profound sympathy with their flock.

The Irish in America, first published in 1868, provides an invaluable account of the extreme difficulties that 19th Century Irish immigrants faced in their new homeland and the progress which they had nonetheless made in the years since arriving on a foreign shore. A new edition, including additional notes and an index, has been published by Books Ulster/LibraryIreland:

Paperback: 700+ pages The Irish in America

ebook: The Irish in America