Growth and Development of Parochial Schools in the Archdiocese of Boston

Marie Eustella Norton, Fordham University


A study of the beginning of Catholic educational endeavor in the United States reveals the heroic devotion of the pioneer American Catholics to a sublime religious ideal. The sacrifices made by our ancestors in the faith to establish and maintain Catholic Schools are almost unbelievable. Poor in the goods of this world and for the most part deprived of educational advantages in their native lands, our Catholic forbears lost no time in establishing schools on American soil where their children would receive the priceless advantages of a Catholic education. The history of Catholic education in the United States is one of the most glorious pages in the world history of the Church. The remarkable growth and development of Catholic education from its insignificant beginnings to its tremendous strength and vitality. of the present day are nothing short of miraculous. The Church in New England took a notable part in this development. Catholic educational endeavor in Puritan New England was until recent times bitterly opposed. Private and public hostility to all things Catholic, so marked in the New England states for many years, crystalized in intense hostility to the Catholic school. The remarkable transformation of Boston and its surrounding territory from a Puritan stronghold to a vigorous Catholic centre proves that Almighty God always generously blesses loyalty to the principles of our faith under the stress of opposition and persecution. The growth and development of Parochial Schools in the Archdiocese of Boston are the natural results of the progress of the Church . in the Archdiocese. The Catholic parochial system in Boston as elsewhere is a part of the great religious and educational world movement which began on the first Pentecost. Definitely commissioned by her divine founder "to teach all things whatsoever He had commanded," the Church has never failed to carry out this command. Wherever the Church has gone, she has always established schools, colleges and universities. In fact the real test of the Church's vitality in any age or country has always been the intensity of the devotion of bishops, priests and people to the cause of Catholic education. Education in the mind of the Church has a very definite and sacred meaning. The dignity of the individual, because of his spiritual worth in the eyes of Almighty God, is the cornerstone upon which has been erected the edifice of Catholic education. To teach individuals to know, love and serve God that they may live with Him for all eternity is the supreme objective in Catholic education. Everything else is secondary to this "the one thing necessary." The late Bishop Spaulding declared in his day that the Catholic parochial school system was the most striking religious fact in the United States. The words of this illustrious Catholic educator, written over twenty-five years ago, are doubly true today. "The greatest religious fact in the United States is the Catholic school system, maintained without any aid except from people who love it. Its rise in this country dates from the early years of the Maryland Colony. A direct relation existed between the development of the Church and the development of Catholic schools. The relation between them has been so close that it is impossible to dissociate the history of the one from that of the other. The parish school has been from the beginning an agency of the Church; both in principles and in practical working it belongs to the Church's system. For to lead children to a knowledge and love of God, that they may ever serve Him in this life and live with Him for all eternity is the ultimate end of Catholic education." The truth of these words of Bishop Spaulding is admirably illustrated in the history of the growth and development of Parochial Schools in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Subject Area

Religious education|Educational evaluation

Recommended Citation

Norton, Marie Eustella, "Growth and Development of Parochial Schools in the Archdiocese of Boston" (1927). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI29281841.