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Catholicism’s Impact on the History of Education

In today’s day and age, when it is easy to both take a Catholic education for granted, and, at the same time, potentially harbor feelings of persecution of faith in education, it is important to remember and appreciate the tumultuous history of public education and Catholic education.

While learning and passing on knowledge is intrinsically wired into the brain of all humankind, and there have been teachers and students as long as man has walked on this Earth, the history of formal education in the Western world is much shorter than the history of man, and it is firmly grounded, from the beginning, in Christianity.

Even in Ancient Rome, long considered the intellectual empire of education the pre-Middle Ages world, there is little record of anything indicating free and available education. Only the elite of Roman wealth and society could expect a complete education, and education in this time was seen as more of a status symbol of wealth and leisure time than it was as a practical concern. For a large portion of the Ancient World, literacy was reserved for religious scholars and scribes, and classes or schooling were largely absent. For years, those without wealth and status in cultures from from Israel to China primarily educated themselves by apprenticing in a trade or devoting themselves to religion. Prior to the Middle Ages, India had the most developed and publicly-available education from around 1500 BC to 600 BC, but as the caste system developed it became far more discriminatory.

It wasn’t until during the early Middle Ages that the monasteries of the Roman Catholic Church  became the centres of education and literacy. Evidence of classes and schools in monasteries as the forerunners to the later idea university can be found dated as far back as the early 6th century, a full century before Islam created The University of al-Qarawiyyin which is the oldest existing continually operated university in the world in the latter part of the 7th century.

Free education for the poor was officially mandated by the Church in 1179 when it decreed that every cathedral must assign a master to teach boys too poor to pay the regular fee; parishes and monasteries also established free schools teaching at least basic literacy skills. This was the basis from which all of modern education has sprung, world-wide.

The first American schools founded by the colonists in the 17th century are not actually the first American schools, as the history of Catholic education in the United States is actually older than the United States itself. Religious education was brought to these shores by Spanish missionaries accompanying explorers and conquistadors, and were followed shortly thereafter by French compeers.

Even though English Catholics founded Maryland as a Catholic colony in 1634, and most colonies were founded by Christians and Catholics seeking religious freedoms from the Anglican church, it took some time for Catholic education to take root widely. The end of the Revolutionary War saw the real growth of Catholic schools in America, with Georgetown University being founded in 1789, just a few short years later.

The Catholic education established in the United States saw hard times hard times and a simultaneous boom in the 1840’s when Horace Mann worked to create a statewide system of professional teachers and “common schools” rather than the private schools that had existed before. Mann believed that education should be available to all, and the movement quickly gained strength. Many states began passing “compulsory attendance” laws. No one person did more for public education in the minds of the American people.

However, Horace Mann was also a Presbyterian minister, was also establishing curriculum and ideology for these public schools that drastically shifted education towards a Protestant one, and required that the King James Bible be used in schools. Catholic teachers who refused to participating in the reading of the King James Bible were often dismissed from their teaching positions, and Catholic children in public schools were often bullied and shunned, Tensions built so high in the 1840’s that they began causing riots and violence, with the most severe being the May 3, 1844 riot in Philadelphia that destroyed dozens of Irish Catholic immigrant homes, with Catholic schools and churches being burned to the ground.

This tension against Catholicism in public education created a demand for private Catholic schools, and in 1852 the First Plenary Council of Baltimore urged every Catholic parish in the country to establish it’s own Catholic school for that very reason.

Growth of the Catholic school system grew until 1920, and then the growth became explosive, with an all-time high in the mid 60’s. The mid 1960’s saw 4.5 million elementary school students enrolled in private Catholic schools, with a further million in high-schools, which began a blossoming need for Catholic universities.

Though we are seeing a decline recently from the years that were the peak of enrollment, it is no doubt that Catholicism, and the drive to educate the world in faith and higher learning for centuries, has made our culture what it is today.

Daily Catholic Mass – Fr. Miguel

father-miguelHello all, and welcome back to my website. I wanted to somewhat change the way I add to my blog posts section of this site by adding in some videos for extra information. I plan to start sharing new videos and old ones that highlight the Catholic faith and any news going on within the sector. Below you will find a video of a full Catholic daily Mass performed by Father Miguel. Please enjoy the video and be sure to check back regularly for more videos.

 

Thank you for viewing!

Steve Virgadamo

Bishop Encourages Men to Stay Connected to Church

bishop-hyingIn many areas the Catholic faith is well practiced and there’s a strong sense of religious involvement among the entire community. There are also many area where the Catholic faith has fallen short and is not practiced as regularly unfortunately. The Catholic Church does spend a considerable amount of time trying to reach out to as many people as they can in order to bestow the gifts of the Catholic faith upon those willing to receive it. The Church as a whole tries its very hardest to encourage communities and individuals to stay connected with the Church but recently Bishop Donald Hying is targeting men specifically.

Bishop Hying preaches to his Catholic community that it’s a wonderful time to be Catholic and follow the faith as well as challenge spiritual leaders to develop specialized spiritual plans to really know and understand Jesus Christ. Bishop Hying reminded the spiritual leaders about the importance of becoming role models and suggesting men increase their efforts and get children more excited about the Church community. He was recently interviewed about his lessons and said, “We have to go back to the beginning and preach about Jesus Christ as if nobody has ever heard of him. We have to re-energize the world. We have to do it through engagement.”

Bishop Hying went on in the interview to point out the disconnect college age students and other young adults have with the Church. He wants the spiritual direction of today’s youth to be corrected and brought back to a place of faith. Bishop Hying wants the Catholic Church to “intentionally live our faith” and stresses the need to be “dynamically engaged” so that the communities of faith don’t lose integral members.

I find it very interesting what Bishop Hying is doing. I agree with his view on keeping men interested and engaged with the Catholic faith and the communities that practice Catholicism. His encouragement and commitment to serving others and the faith as a whole stand testament to his love for Jesus Christ.

 

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

Top 5 Benefits of Catholic School Learning

steve-virgadamo-church-educationA Catholic school education can provide young men and women with significant learning and growth opportunities. A proper Catholic education is beneficial for countless reasons and leaves a mark of distinguishment entering into collegiate learning or into the real world. Below you will find some of the top benefits resulting from a Catholic school education.

1. A Holy View of the World Around Them:

Students learning under a Catholic school administration learn that God is always present in the world and is involved in their lives every day. Students learn to see God’s presence in everyday life whether they are hiking or driving on the highway. This sense of noticing God’s presence is known as “Sacramental Awareness.” By seeing signs of God’s presence, students become more instruments of God and therefore grace their surroundings from their local communities to the world as a whole.

2. The Value of Relationships:

Catholic school students learn that strong bonds between one another are a gift from God and are necessary to living a fruitful life. Through developing relationships with family, friends, teachers, coaches, and more, students have the ability to learn countless values and lessons from one another to carry through the rest of their lives. A strong and nurturing relationship with others reflects the love God has for everyone and the dynamic abilities of the Trinity. We are there for others to learn, to grow, to share in joyous occasions, and to unite under challenges.

3. An Interesting View of Scripture:

Students are given the ability to view sacred and holy scripture through a different lens as they learn more and more about their faith. They can explore questions and events that have happened many many centuries ago. Students will learn useful information dating back to the genesis of Adam and Eve all the way up to recent teachings of Pope Francis. They will also learn to apply Scripture to their daily lives as to live better and more fulfilled lifestyles.

4. Civic Engagement:

Catholic education bestows a certain level of civic engagement and responsibility. Students and faculty of Catholic Schools regularly take part in local foundations, community services, and host fundraisers to help the sick, needy, homeless, and less fortunate. Through volunteer efforts and charitable activities students learn more and build even more bonds with one another and the world around them.

5. Serving the Common Good:

Similar to civic engagement, students under a Catholic administration are strongly encouraged to be involved in public service all the way from the very beginnings of their education to their graduation and beyond. Catholic students learn that they have a responsibility to those around them and it is their duty to help where needed and provide support to everyone.

Please be sure to check back soon for more updates on Catholic school education. Thank you!

Thank You,

Steve Virgadamo