By William P. Leahy
Professor Leahy recounts the educational tensions among spiritual ideals and highbrow inquiry, and discover the social adjustments that experience affected greater schooling and American Catholicism all through this century. He makes an attempt to provide an explanation for why the numerous development of Catholic schools and universities was once no longer regularly matched by means of concomitant educational esteem within the greater global of yankee greater schooling.
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Additional resources for Adapting to America: Catholics, Jesuits, and Higher Education in the Twentieth Century
A small denomination in 1820, the Catholic Church ranked as the largest one hundred years later, but it still remained on the periphery of national life, lacking influence comparable to its size. It had made impressive efforts to assimilate millions of immigrants but still was uneasy with its surroundings. Catholics approached the post-1918 world with a mixed legacy from the preceding century: low social status, but potential for acceptance and wealth; strength in urban politics, but political underrepresentation on the national level; strong religious loyalties to a faith with a rich philosophical and theological heritage, but intellectual narrowness; and ideological conservatism, yet an eagerness to be fully American.
The necessity of additional income Page 6 commonly forced Catholics to remove their children from schools and send them to work. 25 Numerous college age Catholics simply could not afford the cost of tuition. For people struggling to survive, education, particularly after high school, seemed a luxury and less desirable than a cash-paying job. In the decade prior to World War 1,7% of American Catholics in the 17-25 age bracket attended college, while the national average was 17%. During these years Catholics were the least likely of denominations in the United States to continue their education after high school, a difference caused in large part by poverty.
Such educational views reflected growing sentiment in the final decades of the nineteenth century as professional and technical education increased and state-funded universities expanded. A different breed of professors, individuals valuing intellect over piety, rose to faculty prominence. Institutional trustees, predominately clergymen until the 1870s, acquiesced to changes in purpose as they placed educational goals ahead of denominational concerns. The necessity of attracting larger enrollment to fund programs encouraged religious pluralism in education and a blurring of denominational character.