A history of catholic education in New Hampshire
of St. Laure Kegresse, Sister Mary
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The present study is an attempt to trace the evolution of Catholic education in New Hampshire from the beginning to the present. In the compilation of facts, the writer has endeavored to use material gathered from original sources so far as a vailable. To that effect, the following have been consulted: diocesan archives, parish records, chronicles of the teaching communities, local and diocesan newspapers and magazines, state and town histories, state and local reports, enactments of the New Hruapshire legislative bodies concerning education, and the annual reports of State Commissioners of Education. CHAPTER ONE Introductory in nature, the chapter covers the colonial period and early nineteenth century years to 1854 Public schools preceded Catholic parish schools by two hundred years. A general view of the beginnings of public school education from the first regulation promulgated on the subject in New England (1642) through the nineteenth century is provided. Education Has considered from the beginning to be a matter of purely local control and financing, and unorganized curriculums were the general policy. Then, the trend toward centralization of authority and state control began emerging as the foundation of the modern public school system. About this time the Catholic parish schools carne onto the New Hampshire educational scene. The earliest of the Catholic schools was not a parish school, but a private academy fo unded in Claremont by the Reverend Virgil Barber, a Jesuit priest who was a convert from the Episcopalian church. His school lasted from 1823 to 1826, when he was transferred by his religious superiors to Georgetown, Maryland, and later, to missionary work among the Maine Indians. The first parochial schools were not to be founded until three decades later. These schools were not organized earlier because of the scattered Catholic population and the lack of permanent clergy. With the coming of Catholic immigrants in large numbers as the State became industrialized, the demand for schools and teachers slowly became urgent. As permanent pastors were assigned and churches erected, there came as the next step, the establishment of the parish schools. CHAPTER TWO This chapter treats of the birth of the parish school system covering the schools established between 1854 and 1884. First of these was Saint Anne's School founded in 1859, in Manchester, by the Reverend William McDonald with Sisters of Mercy as teachers and a layman as principal. A year earlier, the same religious had opened a private academy for girls and night classes for adults. Growing from a basement school, the parish school went through several phases of adjustment with boys being taught separately from girls. As the Irish population in Manchester increased, St. Joseph's Parish branched off from St. Anne's and the second school was founded in 1874 to take care of parish children who had been taught in rented rooms since 1870. When the French-Canadian population of Manchester rose (immigration had started in the early 1840's) a push especially for this element was founded in 1871. The pastor tried for several years to get the city to teach French in the public schools, and meeting with no success, finally established St. Augustine's School in 1881, which school was first staffed by Sisters of Jesus-Mary. The third oldest parish school in the State was the third staffed by the Sisters of Mercy. This was St. Joseph School in Laconia, founded in 1880 for St. Joseph's Parish, which comprised mostly the Irish who had been attracted to the Lake City by the building of the railroad north from Boston and by diversified industries which sprang up in the city during the nineteenth century. Three years later, the Sisters of Mercy responded to the call of Dover Catholics and staffed the fifth oldest parish school of the State, that of St. Hary's in Dover. In that year also, 1883, the first of the Nashua parish schools was established with the Sisters of Holy Cross as teachers. That pioneer Nashua Catholic school was St. Aloysius School. CHAPTER THREE Ranging from 1884 to 1919, the story of Catholic education treated in this chapter is that of expansion from seven to fifty-three schools including six orphanages. Until 1884 New Hampshire Catholics had been under the direction of the Bishop of Fortland, Maine. In that year, the State became a separate diocese with its own bishop, the Right Reverend Denis M. Bradley. Under the impetus of its diocesan autonomy, with close supervision by its own ordinary, New Hampshire Catholicism, both by virtue of increased immigration and an expanding clergy, grew by leaps and bounds. As a logical consequence, so did Catholic parish schools. In 1884, there were three religious orders engaged in teaching, while thirty-five years later, the number had increased to thirteen, nine of women, and four of men, with 17,147 pupils under their guidance as compared with 2,980 enrolled in parish schools in 1885. During this period of growth, the establishment of a diocesan school board in 1886, and of forty-seven schools in the following communities is detailed: Berlin, 3; Claremont, 1; Concord, 3; Dover, 2; Franklin, 1; Goffstown, 1; Greenville, 1; Hooksett, 2; Keene, 1; Laconia, 1; Lebanon, 1; Manchester, 18; Nashua, 5; Nemnarket, 1; Portsmouth, 1; Rochester, 3; Somersworth, 1; and Suncook, 1. These include the six orphanages which also operated as schools. CHAPTER FOUR The development of a centralized Catholic school system in harmony with the public school system is the subject of this chapter, covering the period from 1919 to the present. At the request of the Federal Government following World War I, a nationwide movement for improvement of education had its fulfillment in New Hampshire by the passage of the historic Law of 1919. A survey of education in the State by the so-called State Americanization Committee, appointed by Governor Bartlett, revealed many serious shortcomings in the educational field. One of the vital principles enacted by the Law of 1919 which resulted from the Committee's work, was that of state rather than local control for approval of schools. Another was the requirement of English as the primary language to be used in all schools. With the co-operation and whole-hearted approval of the Catholic bishop, the Right Reverend George A. Guertin, the Catholic schools easily and smoothly worked into the overall state educational pattern as an integral part of New Hampshire education, and received the approval and commendation of the State Board of Education. Under successive diocesan school superintendents, the Reverend P. J. Scott, Attorney Wilfrid J. Lessard, the Reverend William P. Clancy, the Reverend William J. Collins, and the present superintendent, the Reverend Laurence R. Gardner, curriculum, teacher training, and school property improvement kept pace with similar progress in public schools. Sixteen additional elementary schools were established. CHAPTER FIVE This chapter covers the establishment of the private academies and parish high schools, stressing the contributions of Catholic education on the secondary and college level. As with the elementary schools, Catholic high schools lag behind the public school system so far as longevity is concerned. The first public high school opened in Portsmouth, in 1830, while the first Catholic high school was founded in Manchester, in 1887. Twenty-four academies or high schools and three junior high schools were established in New Hampshire, one 244 of which, Our Lady of Grace Vocational School, in Manchester, no longer exists. In addition to the histories of these, the chapter outlines the histories of St. Anselm's, Mount St. Mary, Rivier, and Notre Dame Colleges, conducted by the Benedictine Fathers, Sisters of Mercy, Sisters of Presentation, and Sisters of Holy Cross respectively. In addition, Catholic schools of New Hampshire include five seminaries training priests for Benedictine, La Salette, Discalced Carmelite, Franciscan, and Sacred Heart Fathers religious orders. CHAPTER SIX Conclusions resulting from the historical survey of New Hampshire education include the following: the parochial school system in the State resulted from the traditional tenets of the Roman Catholic Church serving man in the field of education, as well as sociology and religion, and from the factory system which brought a great immigration movement of Catholic foreigners into New Hampshire. After one hundred years or existence, the parochial school system, in 1954, included one hundred and ten buildings, in twenty-six communities, erected and maintained without assistance from local and state funds. Enrollment totaled 25,035 pupils, who, if cared for by the State, would have cost $5,305,575.41, (1953-1954 statistics). Recognized by the State Board of Education in 1919, the parochial school system has since then grown in teacher and pupil population in about the same proportion as has the public school system. The growth has been constant, and presents problems of overcrowded classrooms, lack of teachers, and elimination of some kindergartens. The policy of the Most Reverend Matthew F. Brady, Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester, and of State legislative leaders, points to an immediate solution of the problems. The parochial school system has in the past worked in harmony with the public school system and present policies follow the same tradition. No indication of any desire to change has yet appeared. The assurance given by a member of the State Board of Education for the American way of life, while retaining certain social and religious characteristics, appears as sound today as then.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University