ORIGINS OF THE CATHOLIC PAROCHIAL SCHOOL
Robert D. Cross
The way to secure a proper religious and moral education has always posed problems for religious minorities. During the common school revival of 1830 to 1850, the public schools moved in the direction of a nonsectarian Protestantism. This usually consisted of such practices as reciting the Lord's Prayer, the singing of a hymn, and a daily reading from the Bible. Supposedly this approach was religiously neutral. In fact, it reflected the views of and was acceptable to virtually all of the Protestant denominations, but was noxious to those of other faiths. In addition, many non-Protestants objected to the cleansing of public school subjects of a specific religious content. They maintained that all branches of learning, being parts of a unified system of doctrine, had to make manifest their philosophical and theological foundations. No mode of adjustment to nonsectarian Protestant influence on the public schools was more significant than the Catholic parochial school movement. Professor Cross, a specialist in American religious and immigration history, links the establishment of parochial schools with the cultural as well as religious needs of Catholic immigrants from Europe.
For the strength of Protestant interest in establishing and influencing the public schools, see Timothy L. Smith, "Protestant Schooling and American Nationality, 1800-1850," Journal of American History, 53 ( 1967), pp. 679-695, and David Tyack, "The Kingdom of God and theCommon School: Protestant Missionaries and the Educational Awakening in the West,"