25 January 2013
History of Catholic Education in America
It is of great amazement that there are over seven-thousand catholic schools in America. Catholic education dates back to as far as the year 1606. By the latter 1600's, English colonists had set up their own, publicly supported schools. Since all the colonies were overwhelmingly Protestant, the rudimentary education often had a heavily fundamentalist Protestant population. During the same period, Catholic education progressed in non-British America: In New Orleans, the Franciscans opened a school for boys in 1718. The Ursulines opened one for girls in 1727.
It was through the participation in the Revolutionary war by such patriots as Charles, Daniel and John Carroll helping erode anti-Catholic bigotry. Catholics in Philadelphia in 1782 opened St. Mary's School, considered the first parochial school in the United States. Not long after the Revolution ended, John Carroll saw his dream of a Catholic "college" take root with the establishment in 1789 of Georgetown.
Ratification in 1791 of the Bill of Rights, with the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom, helped Catholics further cement their place in post-Revolutionary America. If Catholic education flourished, however, so did anti-Catholic bias, even ex-President John Adams, writing to Thomas Jefferson in 1816. Not long afterward, another crusader took up the fight against bigotry against blacks, women, and Catholics alike. Elizabeth Lange, established a school in Baltimore for poor children and, in 1831, founded the Oblate Sisters of Providence.
The middle of the 19th Century saw increasing Catholic interest in education in tandem with increasing Catholic immigration. To serve their growing communities, American Catholics first tried to reform American public schools to rid them of blatantly fundamentalist Protestant overtones. Failing, they began opening their own schools, ably aided by such...