A Survey of the Educational Program of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin

Mary Brosnan, Fordham University


During the course of a study of any organization, the researcher cannot fail to form conclusions regarding its imperfections and its achievements, A brief evaluation, therefore, has been appended to the present work. It seems rather unfortunate to the writer that delinquent children must be accepted and permitted to mix freely with the less worldly-wise elements of the child population, inasmuch as the good do not have a noticeable effect upon the less good, but the example of the less good may have a demoralizing effect upon the others. However, the institution has a natural professional interest in the fate of increasing numbers of Catholic delinquent children in need of care, and in the absence of more Catholic institutions dedicated to their rehabilitation, they must be accepted with the homeless and the destitute. Supervisory problems will arise; the 6 percent proportion of delinquent children is a minimum representation of the true delinquent population, as a considerable number of delinquents are admitted on neglect petitions because delinquency was ascribed, at the discretion of the courts, to parental neglect. The 6 percent alone may constitute a difficult "core" group, and strong leadership will be a necessity at all times if this percentage increases as general social trends seem to indicate. An area for possible misunderstanding is also seen, by the writer, in the delegation of disciplinary difficulties to Institution chap-Iains, a result of the institution’s efforts to closely supervise disciplinary action in order to eliminate the possibility of harsh or unjust punishments. To the troubled layman, the function of the priest is traditionally that of confidant, advisor and confessor; this concept should be, and is, strengthened in the training of the child at Mount Loretto. In the role of supervisor of discipline, however, the priest may become, in the mind of the disturbed child, an authoritarian and therefore a hated figure. It would seem preferable that this unreasoned animosity be vented upon a lay person. As no serious difficulty seems to have occurred in this regard, however, perhaps the question is merely academic. On the positive side, the visitor to the Mission observes much evidence of good organization; grounds and building units are clean and attractively furnished and the children appear healthy, well clothed, well supervised and as happy as might be expected under their circumstances. Such a picture presents a sharp contrast to the rather cheerless atmosphere which characterized the typical institution of yesteryear. Over and above these physical and material improvements, however, the institution under study has made substantial gains in several specific areas. It is to be strongly commended for its consistent increase in the ratio of staff to children to the 1959 average of one counsellor per fourteen children, and for its plans to further increase this ratio. As recently as 1945 school dismissal marked for the already overburdened teacher, not a respite from the days teaching activities, but the commencement of an evening-long counselling assignment Fatigue, confinement and continual proximity to the same children rendered teacher-counsellors probably less tolerant than desirable of youthful exuberance, while the limitation of experience to only a few personalities was certainly not the happiest arrangement for the children. By drastically reducing group numbers, the recent increase in personnel makes possible a far more individualized relationship between child and child care worker. Secondly, the new school organization will undoubtedly prove satisfying and rewarding for both teachers and pupils. A recent issue of the Homeless Child reports that over 80 percent of the children in the elementary school progressed a year or more in reading during the 1958-1959 school year, a very fine average for a school of disturbed children. Moreover, the co-educational elementary school duplicates the school situation of the normal child and may prove to facilitate social adjustments and relationships. The diversified program of supervised individual and group activities also represents a significant improvement over its counterpart of two decades ago. Lastly, new building units do much to minimize an institution atmosphere and encourage the formation of family-sized groups. While they are designed for utility, they are also very attractive in appearance.

Subject Area

Social work

Recommended Citation

Brosnan, Mary, "A Survey of the Educational Program of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin" (1960). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30308758.