Catholic Labor Schools
Labor schools were one of the primary ways in which the Church moved to its working-class membership in the late 1930s. The secular clergy ran most of the schools, but the Jesuits operated several of them as well, including the well-known Xavier Labor School. The primary audience was male, but female trade-unionists seem to have been welcome in most schools. These labor schools generally offered courses in four areas: first, each taught the social encyclicals, either Rerum Novarum and/or Quadragesimo Anno; second, each offered some kind of course, usually public speaking and/or parlimentary law, about how to improve one's functioning in a public meeting; third, each school offered a course or courses in contemporary labor issues; finally, courses about communism often appeared in the curriculum. By 1941-42, approximately 75 schools were in operation, 60 in 1944-45, and about 80 in 1946-47. Buffalo's labor school was one of the longest in duration and one of the most successful. Founded under the auspices of Bishop John A. Duffy (1884-1944), it benefitted from the superior talents of Monsignor John P. Boland (1888-1968).
As you read these documents, reflect on the following questions:
1. What did Bishop Duffy describe as the purpose of the labor school?
2. What were some of the courses offered at the school? What reasons might there have been for their inclusion?