Protestant Confidence in Convent Schools

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER XXVI (8) start of chapter

But whatever the prejudices of the ignorant or the fanatical may be, the enlightened of America recognise the value of the training which young girls receive in schools conducted by members of religious communities—by women who are accomplished, gentle, graceful, and refined—who combine the highest intellectual cultivation with genuine goodness. Protestants of all denominations, and of strong religious convictions too, send their daughters to convent schools; and, strange as it may appear to one who visits America for the first time, more than half of all the pupils educated in such institutions are the children of non-Catholics! Parents know that while under the care of the Sisters their children are not exposed to risk or danger—-that they are morally safe; and one may hear it constantly remarked by Protestants that there is an indefinable 'something' in the manner of girls trained by nuns which is immeasurably superior to the artificial finish of the best secular academy or college. If the young Protestant pupil unwillingly enters the convent school, she leaves it reluctantly; and the influence of the impression it has left upon her mind is never lost in after life—she knows how false are the accusations made against convents and Catholics, and when others are prejudiced or fanatical, she is tolerant and liberal. And for society at large this conversion to common sense is a great gain.

What is true of convent schools is equally true of schools and colleges under the care of the great educational Orders—Jesuits, Sulpitians, Vincentians, Redemptorists, Brothers of the Holy Cross, Christian Brothers, Franciscans, and others. Such indeed is the liberality of some parents, that they formally declare their willingness to have their children brought up in the Catholic faith. This has more generally occurred since the war, which, as I have already shown, triumphantly tested the wisdom of the Church, as well as the nature and results of its teaching.

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:

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