The Sisters of Notre Dame

John Francis Maguire
CHAPTER II (12) start of chapter

Among the other conventual establishments of Prince Edward Island is a branch of the famous Congregation of Notre Dame. Besides a boarding school and day school for paying pupils, these Sisters also conduct a free school, which is at some distance from the house in which they reside. I here remarked with surprise, from its novelty to one who had just left a country in which religious distinctions are so strongly marked, that Protestants of various denominations, including those most prominent in their hostility to the Catholic Church, send their children to be instructed by the Sisters. As I passed through America, I found that this custom was almost universal. There are very grave reasons which induce parents to obtain for their children the watchful care and salutary influence of religious women, themselves models of gentleness and refinement; and whatever the natural prejudices of the parents, the desire to see their children refined, cultivated, and good, is still stronger. In some communities the motives which impel parents to prefer the teaching of 'the Sisters' are more pressing and powerful than in others; but though the most violent opposition is offered to the practice in many instances, it would appear to be generally on the increase, and even regarded as a matter of legitimate precaution on the part of those who adopt it. In Charlottetown there is no school which can in any way approach in excellence the academy of the Ladies of Notre Dame; which fact is of itself sufficient explanation of what would at first excite some surprise. The Ladies of Notre Dame are not cloistered nuns. Round for life by their vows, like other Orders, they can go about, visit, and teach in schools not under the roof of their convent.

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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