Catholic Schools

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XXVI (6) start of chapter

It is not necessary to give a detailed account of the progress of Catholic education in America. Such is that progress, that the description of to-day would not suffice for to-morrow. Thus in the city of New York there are now about 30,000 children receiving education in Catholic schools; but in all probability 40,000 would not fully represent the number that may be in attendance at the close of 1868. Somewhere about 1833, a single priest was 'attending Brooklyn,' then regarded as a suburb of New York; now there are not fewer than 12,000 Catholic children in Catholic training in that populous city. In places which have grown up within the last twenty years, I found from 12,000 to 15,000 children under various Religious Orders, notwithstanding that the Public Schools were likewise in full and successful activity. And even in small cities there were such numbers as 4,000 and 5,000 and 6,000, while the most strenuous efforts were made by bishops and priests to extend their school accommodation and increase the number of their pupils; and in all cases the majority of the children were Irish—either Irish born or the offspring of Irish parents. The school that commences with 300 soon expands into 500, and the 500 rapidly grow into 1,000—and so on. In New York there are parishes in which the attendance in their Catholic schools is between 2,000 and 3,000; and in these parishes efforts are still made to extend the blessings of the best system of education to those who, perhaps of all other children in the world, are destined to be tried by the most dangerous temptations. I saw throughout the States large and spacious schools growing up in every direction under the auspices of the Church; and I can remember how, when visiting a Southern city, which was slowly rising above the ashes of its desolation, I was impressed with the zeal of the Catholics—mostly Irish—who were erecting a fine female school for 500 pupils, which was to be placed under the care of Sisters.

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