Catholic Schools and Minority Groups

Despite the changes that American Catholic schools have undergone over the one-hundred-year period between 1893 and 1993, one thing has remained relatively constant: the schools have always shown an interest in serving minorities. Interestingly, though, the category of minority has morphed over time from religious to racial. As Timothy Walch writes, “For most of its existence, the Catholic school was seen as a safe haven for a religious minority that did not feel welcome in the public schools.” [60] By the mid-twentieth century, however, “the big waves of Catholic immigration had moved through the ethnic neighborhoods and joined the great American middle class.” [61] Over time, those areas of American cities in which European Catholic immigrants had once resided became increasingly populated by non-Catholics and non-whites—especially Blacks. Significantly, Catholic schools often carried on serving the surrounding community, Catholic or not.

Footnotes

[60] Timothy Walch, Parish School: American Catholic Parochial Education from Colonial Times to the Present (Washington, D.C.: National Catholic Educational Association, 2003), 5.

[61] Elizabeth Bruenig, “Biden Could Be Our Second Catholic President. Does It Matter?” The New York Times (23 September 2020), https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/23/opinion/biden-catholic-president-2020.html

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