The Work of Education - The Franciscan Brothers in Ireland and Brooklyn
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When Franciscan Brothers of the Third Order Regular of St.Francis arrived in Brooklyn in W 1858, they were first assigned to the new Male Catholic Orphan Asylum. However, their almost five centuries as successful educators in Ireland recommended them to pastors and parents, and they soon took up this work in their own St. Francis Academy and in parish schools of the Brooklyn diocese.
It is difficult in our ecumenical age to appreciate how suspicious and fearful Catholics were of evangelical Protestant efforts to proselytize their children. It is also hard for us to understand the conviction the well-funded evangelicals had that Catholic "popery" must be opposed at all costs. Nevertheless, much of nineteenthcentury religion in Ireland is suffused with this mutual Illustration: St. animosity and suspicion, especially in the phe-Francis Academy on nomenon of "souperism," which was used to Baltic Street. induce Catholics, especially in the west of Courtesy of Emmet Ireland, to abandon their faith for food during Corry. and after the Great Famine.' This article focuses on the work of the Franciscan Brothers in Brooklyn, but it will first EDUCATORS IN IRELAND briefly discuss their history as educators in the five The Franciscan Third Order Regular brothers centuries before their suppression in Ireland; their were well known for the schools attached to their re-emergence after 1818, first in Milltown and monasteries, from their founding in Dalkey in the Archdiocese of Dublin, and later in Killeenbrenan in the Archdiocese of Tuam Mountbellew, Galway, and many other towns in around 1426, to the suppression of forty-seven of the Archdiocese of Tuam in the west of Ireland. their houses during the two centuries of Penal Their reemergence and success in the nineteenth Laws imposed by the English and Irish parliaments century was primarily in response to Archbishop in the post-Elizabethan period (1558-1760). The John MacHale's and the other Irish bishops' fears brothers supported themselves by manual labor of Protestant proselytism of their Catholic chil-and by farming the fields around their friaries.
Brother Emmett Corry is dren through the evangelicals' creation and sup-Rather than Latin, rhetoric, philosophy, and theauthor of a forthcoming history of the Franciscan port of Hibernian Bible Society schools. The ology, which were taught to the sons of the rich Brothers. From 1993-1995 Franciscan Brothers emigration to Brooklyn in and privileged in monastic schools in France, he served as president of 1858 was in response to similar fears of New York Spain, and Belgium, the free curriculum of the the New York Irish History Roundtable.
City's archbishop John Hughes, Brooklyn's bishop Franciscan Brothers' schools "would have focused John Loughlin, and other American bishops, that on native learning - the grammar, poetry, histo-Protestant common schools would lead Catholic ries, and sagas of Gaelic Ireland, as well as the ©2000. Published with the children to fall away from their faith.? genealogies of important families." permission of Emmett Corry.
Vol.14, 2000 PAGE 14 NEW YORK 1RISH HISTORY In Ireland, the Franciscan Brothers contin-By the middle of the century, MacHale was able ued their tradition of working as skilled stonemato boast that there were 13,500 Catholic children sons, carpenters, and farmers in their receiving a Catholic education in his archdiocese monasteries. In this way, they supported the in the west of Ireland.4 brothers who were offering free education in NEW YORK CITY'S "COMMON SCHOOLS" these useful trades for working-class young men, and primary education for poor children. It was a The system of education the Franciscan Brothers monastic tradition that they would be forced to found in the city of Brooklyn when they arrived abandon in urban Brooklyn. in 1858 was a combination of private, church The brothers who arrived in Brooklyn in and "common schools." Many children were 1858 at the request of Bishop Loughlin were enrolled in schools attached to churches or in sent by John MacHale (1791-1881), the famous those conducted by masters and women in priarchbishop of Tuam, County Galway, Ireland. vate homes and which charged tuition. In 1805, Called the "Lion of the West," MacHale was a in New York City, a Free School Society was crefervent Irish patriot as well as the metropolitan ated by a dozen wealthy men, primarily Quakers of the Province of Tuam. Fearing his fiery Irish from the highest levels of the New York gentry, nationalism, the British government tried unsucto "establish a Free School in the City of New cessfully to prevent his appointment to Tuam York, for the education of such poor children as after the death of Archbishop Oliver Kelly in do not belong to, or are not provided for, by any 1834. An independent and powerful speaker religious society." and prolific writer, MacHale was one of the most The society's Quaker influence made its important prelates in Ireland in the nineteenth schools strictly nonsectarian. In seeking state century. He was also very influential in the funding for their schools, this policy was both the development of Catholic education for Irish society's greatest strength and its fatal flaw. As a immigrants in the Americas, responding posinonsectarian school system, the society eventually tively to the requests of American bishops for became the public school system of the city of religious teaching communities. New York. Its nonsectarianism was in reality Because control of the education of Catholic nonsectarian Protestantism, which repelled children was the most significant issue in Catholic parents and the Catholic clergy. church-state relations in Ireland in the nineteenth Protestants, conscious of a growing Catholic century, MacHale's solution to the Hibernian immigrant population, and convinced that the Bible Society schools was to offer strong support Roman Catholic Church subverted true to the religious teaching communities in his Americanism, caused manystates to become province. Strongly recommended by Rome, the hotbeds of nativism. Newly arrived Catholics, establishing of schools became the duty of the seeing these common schools as reflecting the Catholic bishops of Ireland, and they came to dominant Protestant ethos that permeated realize that parish schools, taught by new reli-American culture, could not accept sending their gious orders created for this purpose, would serve children to schools conducted mainly by as bastions against the work of the proselytizers. Protestant teachers, with a Protestant viewpoint, This period saw the rise of the Presentation and with religious instruction and religious exer-Sisters founded by Nano Nagle, who began work cises of a decidedly Protestant character: in Cork in 1777 and who had twenty-eight The Catholic clergy understood that schools in Ireland by 1830; the Presentation they were in a Protestant society, surround-Brothers founded by Blessed Edmund Rice in ed by hostility. Their people were poor, and 1802 in Waterford, and later the Christian the Church could offer them little more Brothers, which he also founded; the Franciscan than spiritual comfort...All they could do Brothers founded in Dublin and Mountbellew,was to guard their flock's. faith and ward Galway, by Michael Dillon and Bonaventure Lee off inducements to assimilate, which they in 1818; and the Sisters of Mercy founded by saw as Protestant attempts to destroy the Blessed Catherine McAuley in Dublin in 1831. Church. The clergy found that the only sig-Vol.14, 2000 NEW YORK 1R15H HISTORY PAGE 15 nificant way they could protect their people 1854, and the Franciscan Brothers first sent memfrom Protestant propaganda was to disbers to Louisville, Kentucky, in 1846; St. John's, courage their followers from using the Newfoundland, in 1846; Loretto, Pennsylvania, schools of the Public School Society. of in 1847; and finally Brooklyn in 1858. about 12,000 Catholic children in the city The Congregation of Christian Brothers in the late 1830s, only a few hundred were (i.e., Irish Christian Brothers) sent brothers to Within a year, enrolled in the public schools.6 New York City in 1906. Many other communi-American bishops, many of whom had been ties sent religious to the United States from all born in Ireland, were aware that religious teachover Europe. In all, forty-four different congregathe Brothers ing communities had been valuable in solving a tions of women arrived between 1829 and 1884, similar problem in Irish education. They thereand from 1841 to 1884, eleven communities of fore sought the help of their Irish colleagues brothers emigrated. 10 opened when they began to create Catholic parochial Archbishop Hughes succeeded in obtaining schools to protect their children from the influa number of religious communities to teach in St. Francis ence of the common schools. the diocese of New York. The Jesuits took charge John Hughes (1794-1864) was known as of St. John's College (later to be Fordham "Dagger John," not only for the cross he placed University), and the Sisters of Charity oversaw Academy in a before his name as a bishop, but also because of his teaching in few elementary schools. Hughes's aggressive leadership. He emerged in 1829-1830,efforts to have brothers teach the boys, however, as a defender of the Catholic faith when, under the was not immediately successful, because he building that pseudonym "Cranmer," he sent fake news reports seemed unwilling to pay them a suitable wage. In on the "Catholic invasion of Pennsylvania" to The letter to Rev. Edward Sorin, the president of Protestant, a virulently anti-Catholic newspaper. In Notre Dame, Hughes wrote: "Nothing can be had housed a a subsequent article in a Catholic newspaper, on 3 more reasonable than that the priest requiring a July 1830, Hughes revealed his identity as Brother, should pay his traveling expenses, and I "Cranmer," proving that he had hoodwinked the will not say forty dollars, which I think too little, Protestant anti-Catholic nativists.' Hughes became the pasbut fifty dollars a year for clothing."" However, sionate and articulate defender of the Catholic this amount was not considered "a sufficient position on the unacceptability of the "Protestan" salary" by the De La Sale Christian Brothers, church and a common schools.® By 1840, Catholics were seekwho recalled two brothers sent to New York in ing state support for "Catholic public schools" as a 1847 by Brother Philippe, the superior general.12 solution to their opposition to the Free School public school.
Society's textbooks and curriculum. SAINT FRANCIS ACADEMY In the same year, the American bishops met Within a year of their arrival in Brooklyn the in Baltimore and directly attacked the Franciscan Brothers opened St. Francis Academy Protestantism of the common schools by directin September 1859, at 300 Baltic Street, a ing pastors to establish Catholic schools: "We three-story building that had housed a Protestant admonish pastors that they must see to the church and a public school. The brothers con-Christian and Catholic education of Catholic verted the building in the Cobble Hill section of children with all the zeal they have." Brooklyn into a private academy, living in its damp basement until they were able to purchase RELIGIOUS TEACHING COMMUNITIES FROM a house in 1862, behind the academy, at 41 IRELAND Butler Street. St. Francis College evolved from Most U.S. bishops took the recommendation this academy to become an educational instituseriously and sought help from religious commution that was granted the right to award the nities in Europe. Each of the Irish communities bachelor of arts degree by the University of the mentioned previously sent members to North State New York. 13 America. The Sisters of Mercy were the first, dis-Brothers John McMahon, Vincent Hayes, patching sisters to Pittsburgh in 1843. The and a young postulant arrived in Brooklyn on Presentation Sisters went to San Francisco in May 31, 1858. Later that summer, seven other Vol.14, 2000 PAGE 16 NEW YORK 1R15H HISTORY young men joined the young community. All had authorized to confer degrees. The colemigrated from Roundstone in County Galway, lege is one of the largest institutions of its Ireland. class in the city, and is well located, with After spending the hot summer and part of spacious surroundings. It contains sixteen the fall of 1858 with the French De La Salle classrooms, two study halls, a museum, Christian Brothers on Pearl Street, the brothers music rooms, gymnasium, and all the found the Orphan Asylum to be unsuitable as a appliances of a modern school. It has monastery and novitiate. As result, John always received a large patronage from McMahon, the first superior of the community, Brooklynites, and a number of our well- "Purchase [d] a building at a 300 Baltic known citizens were graduated from its Street between Smith and Court Streets as walls. It has this year sent a large represenearly as 1859. This building was used as a tation of candidates for the priesthood to residence and St. Francis Academy. Owing the Seminary at Emmitsburg, Maryland." to the increase of novices and resident stu-Two years after the bishop deeded the school dents, another building was purchased in to the community, a school retreat for the stu- , on Butler Street, opposite and dents was reported at length in the Brooklyn adjoining the Baltic Street property. From Catholic. Its reporter enthusiastically described this small beginning grew the present flourthe flower-bedecked chapel and hinted that a ishing Institute known as the Franciscan number of the younger boys may have made Brothers of the Diocese of Brooklyn. "4 their First Communion that day: It was actually John Loughlin who bought "The good Father reminded the chilthe three-story building at 300 Baltic Street in St. dren that they were then truly the heirs of Paul's Parish on September 1, 1859. He assigned heaven in fact, that they had a heaven on it to the brothers for use as a school and residence. earth. He exhorted them to continue to be Later that month, "with the aid of Martin St. true to the good resolutions they had made.
Leger, a gentleman of scholarly attainment," who And we have no doubt that the impression was the first American to join the young commumade on their young minds will long connity, St. Francis Academy, with two brothers and tinue; and in years to come their memory three laymen, was opened as the first Catholic priwill flutter back with pleasure to them as vate academy in the Diocese of Brooklyn.15 Legal the happiest event of their lives. "38 ownership of the property was transferred to the About five years later, the Brooklyn Citizen brothers, with their incorporation as "The St. recorded a graduation exercise held by the college Francis Monastery of the City of Brooklyn" by the at the Old Academy of Music on Montague Street: New York State Legislature on June 2, 1868. As a "Bishop Loughlin conferred the degrees and diplo- "membership corporation," under chapter 851 of mas, and the Saint Francis College Grand March' the laws of 1868, St. Francis Academy at 300 was played by the college orchestra. Five Bachelor Baltic Street was finally deeded to the of Arts and five Master of Arts degrees were award-Community on October 27, 1868.16 ed. while twelve students received commercial In a little over : quarter century, the small diplomas. Awards in excellence were presented in community had increased from six to seventy each academic area and the old Academy was brothers: crowded with standees in the aisles, exuding When the Franciscans first came to "enthusiasm warmer than the weather.3»19 Brooklyn....they established the college in From 1885 to 1897, about 130 students Baltic Street, beginning with thirty scholwere graduated from St. Francis College. Eightyars and six Brothers. Now there are 406 six were from Brooklyn; the rest were from other students, of which 100 are boarders, and a parts of New York and from New Jersey, Rhode community of 70 Brothers. It was first Island, Connecticut, Maine, California, Latin called Saint Francis Academy, and as such America, Italy, and Ireland. Of this number, was incorporated in 1868; in 1884, howabout one-third became priests, and several othever, it was chartered as a regular college, ers entered various religious communities.
Vol.14, 2000 NEW YORK 1R1SH HISTORY PAGE 17 In 1898, eight students were awarded the Franciscan Brothers. At "Old St. Francis" bachelor of arts degree, and three received the I entered the primary class. I can vividly master of arts degree. The master of arts degree recall the teacher of this class, Brother was awarded to any alumnus who requested it a Matthew [Flynn], who was one of the year after he received a bachelor's degree. The most gentle men I have ever met. His Ph.D. was awarded to those alumni who requestpatience, as I view it through the long ed it and who believed they had sufficient postvista of years, was remarkable. He was an baccalaureate credits or experience to deserve ideal teacher of children and did much to such an honor. 20 help all the boys in the class in achieving a The four-year course of instruction at St.
Francis College included twenty-six hours of class from Monday to Friday each week, with a recommendation that students study five hours a * m00 nA 004 000 day outside of class time."1 The yearly tuition in DancE be 1897 was $60 for day students; tuition and board magdeen 109H for resident students was $250. Rules for resident students were somewhat monastic: •Students are obliged to accompany prefects on school days and other days appointed to Prospect Park or some other suburban resort. •Students are not allowed to leave the premises without permission. •Parents or guardians are permitted to firm grasp upon the fundamentals of a visit the first Sunday of each month good education. from 2 to 5. have seen many teachers in my experience, but have never met one superior • The use of tobacco is strictly forbidden in his appreciation of the needs of adolesas injurious to the health of youth. cent boys than was Brother Cosmas [Burns]. He was a man, every inch of • All letters written by students must be him. I loved him then and I love him now. submitted for inspection. Combined with my hope of the hereafter is Illustration: the thought that I may have the opportu-Monastery garden • Every communication addressed to them nity of meeting him face to face and of and College Buildings shall be opened before they receive it. talking over the pleasant times enjoyed in 1890. Courtesy Resident students, whose families must have together at "Old St. Francis."23 of Emmet Corry. had some means, were asked to bring the follow-In addition to graduation exercises at the ing "necessary supplies": "6 dress shirts, 6 under-Old Academy of Music, public exhibitions took shirts, 6 pr stockings, 6 pr. drawers, 3 suits of place annually to show off the talents and acaclothes, pr. shoes, 6 towels, 6 napkins, knife, demic abilities of the St. Francis Academy boys, fork, spoon, goblet, with the name on each-hair who were considered the best public speakers in brush, tooth brush, shoe polish, and soap.22 the city. At the end of each school year, these Along with other alumni, Milo F. public examinations were advertised in the news-McDonald, a New York City high-school principapers and attracted large audiences of parents, pal, fondly remembered his days at the old St. relatives and friends who cheered their boys when Francis Academy: they successfully answered the difficult questions My mind is filled with pleasant recolposed by members of the audience. Teachers lections of the years I spent with the from other Franciscan Brothers schools marched Vol.14, 2000 PAGE 18 NEW YORK 1RISH HISTORY their pupils to these exhibitions to help cheer on and Anne McManus Johnston, both of County the St. Francis boys. Fermanagh. He remembers it was said that Brother The students at St. Francis also had a vividLouis was so loved by the boys he cared for that interest in theatricals. They were able to present they cried "on his coffin. *25 The account books of their plays at the Old Academy of Music, which the monastery show that Brother Louis "filled could accommodate a larger audience than was many domestic assignments in the Monastery," possible within the school. and suggest he that was probably a cook who St. Francis Academy and College also served baked apple pies for the boys in his care. 26 about a hundred resident students, who lived at A number of students who lived a distance from Brooklyn and boarded at the academy and college, went to the brothers' summer monastery in Centerport, Long Island, after it was purchased in 1889. Young men from Cuba, Mexico, and parts of the United States distant from Brooklyn did not return to their homes during the summer, but went with the brothers to their pleasant North Shore home in Centerport.
Known as Camp Alvernia, it was the first Catholic camp in the United States.37 BROTHERS IN THE PARISH SCHOOLS Shortly after the Franciscan Brothers established St. Francis Academy, they also began teaching in elementary schools of the Brooklyn Diocese. St.
Joseph's on Dean Street was their first parish school in 1859, followed by St. Paul's on Court Your. fin and Congress Streets and Our Lady of Mercy on DeVise Place in 1861. Subjects taught in these schools included many now found in the first two Friendenl years of high school, with higher-level mathematis especially remembered by their graduates.
Some of the parish schools that the brothers the school on Baltic Street. Brothers assigned to ran were actually secondary schools as we know their care saw that they were well fed in their own them today. Called "academies," the course of student dining room with food from the instruction included classical, scientific, and commonastery kitchen. mercial subjects, which were distinct and separate Evidence from the Franciscan Brothers from the courses in the elementary branches.
Illustration: Archives suggests that Brother Louis Johnson was The first of these parish academies was St.
Reverend Joseph Fransioli, the one of the men assigned to this task. The Peter's on Hicks Street in 1870. It was followed first pastor of Brothers' Necrology presents this brief account of by St. Patrick's, Kent Avenue, in 1871; St.
St. Peter's his religious life: "Brother Louis Johnson, a native Vincent de Paul's, North Sixth, in 1886; and parish. Courtesy of Emmet Corry. of Ireland, entered St. Francis Monastery on July Sacred Heart, Adelphi Street, in 1888. The only 18, 1892, and was admitted to the Habit on other academy in the diocese was St. James's on September 8th of that year. After his profession, Jay Street, under the direction of the De La Salle October 4, 1893, Brother Louis filled many Christian Brothers. domestic assignments in the Monastery. His death occurred on November 19, 1910.724 ST. PETER' ACADEMY In recent years, a relative informed the St. Peter's parish was founded at Hicks and Warren community that Brother Louis was born George Streets in 1859 under the direction of Rev. Joseph Johnston, not Johnson, the son of George Johnston Fransioli, the great Swiss-born educator. He began Vol.14, 2000 NEW YORK 1R1SH HISTORY PAGE 19 the school at the same time that he built his "OLD ST. PAUL'S" church. Through his financial skills, the finest The second parochial school the brothers opened school building in Brooklyn was completed in was in the basement of St. Paul's Church on 1866, with a frescoed hall and with a great gymna-Court and Congress Streets, three blocks from St. sium supplied with the best European athletic Francis Monastery at 41 Butler Street. One of the equipment, at an estimated cost of $100,000. students of that school was William T. Vlymen, In 1933, Charles Webber, class of 1877, recalled: "The curriculum, besides the usual courses, included geometry, plane and solid, trigonometry, and in the last year even calculus differential and integral, surveying and field work. Physics with laboratory experiments, and debates with other schools, were also very popular.' Webber also discussed the quality of education at St. Peter's Academy, which had over SIX hundred boys: There were no high schools in those pioneer days -public or parochial. When the first public high school was opened on Court Street, one of our boys sought to who became the principal of Eastern District enter, but was told that he was beyond High School. His memories of the brother who their courses! Yet, it was hard to convince taught him algebra in the church basement went our own people that our schools were so back before 1888, because the "new" St. Paul's excellent. One method we tried at St. was opened on Warren Street in that year: Peter's was public examinations held in The fundamentals of all I ever knew of our big hall at night with the public invit-Algebra got there. The method used ed to come and quiz.... We were prepared. afterwards adopted in P.S. No. 5 when I For several weeks before, the Brothers from was its principal. The Brother in St. Francis College -"Little Old Paul" charge...gave us a large number of examand "Young Paul," Jerome, and Leo, as ples, short and simple. Well within our well as jovial "Little Bruno,' had come to powers of execution. The constant repetiour classrooms in the afternoon and grilled tion of easy problems fastened in our us for battle. We welcomed them, always minds the fundamental principles so that glad to demonstrate what we had learned. they lingered while many other subjects, We were ready! A crowded hall and not so separated, are gone. proud parents applauded as we proved our We used slates for the work. The efficiency, each striving to be first with his Brother would read the problems and answer. It was a real test -a trying one, immediately the sound of scratching slate but we enjoyed it, and showed the public pencils would begin. As soon as a pupil what the Hicks Street Boys could do in those had the answer he would rush, slate in Illustration: Camp Alvernia on . days. No public school of the day could have hand, to the Brother and flourish it in his Sunday morning in offered such an exhibition. We did it to conface. As many of the pupils finished about July, 1895. Courtesy vince our reluctant public that it was not the same time, the Brother would be surof Emmet Corry. all catechism [emphasis added]. We had rounded by a crowd of boys eager to be the need to do it in those days. Now examinafirst to get his attention. The first boy tions, open to the public, are unnecessary. would get at the top of his slate a straight The Regents stamp our efficiency.78 line, perpendicular, drawn in chalk. At the end of the period the Brother would call for Vol.14, 2000 PAGE 20 NEW YORK 1R15H HISTORY the boy or boys having the largest number produced "Pinafore" a whole week. In the of chalk marks to stand. Every boy was original production of this musical comedy eager to get as many of these chalk marks as the boys took the female parts. Joe possible, so that at times the Brother would Campbell, who afterwards taught music in find it hard to select the first one completthe public schools, sang the part of ing the example, so many boys rushing at "Josephine,' and Michael Hayes the role of "Little Buttercup" or "Cousin Hebe.' P. E. him at practically the same moment, all eager to get the coveted chalk on the slate. Callahan was the "Admiral" and Tommy imagine that was not so pushing as Fitzpatrick, "Ralph Rackstraw." some, as I recall that at times the Brother They were the good old days happy would make us all withdraw and then days ,sunshiny days, care-free days, yet days select some one boy who would get the mark. I was sometimes the one selected in THE DINNER WAGON this way, the Brother calling me from the rear in his kindness. This action on his From 1859, most of the brothers who part still renews my gratitude as he was staffed the parish schools, lived in St. keen enough to see that, though I might Francis Monastery at 41 Butler Street and have finished first, I was too shy to thrust traveled each morning to their assignments. myself upon his attention. Because of the scarcity of funds, they The atmosphere was one of eagerness to would usually walk many miles back and do the work and to do it promptly. Many forth to their schools. The brothers easy questions made it possible for even the endured hardships in the cold, snowy, and dull boys to succeed and at the end of the leswet weather, when they often had to tend son, as remember it, every boy had more to the heat in the schools before the stuor less marks on his slate. These marks were dents arrived. At lunchtime, however, they carefully counted and any boy who would looked forward to the horse-drawn dinner surreptitiously use a piece of chalk to wagon, which brought them a hot, midday increase the number would receive short dinner from the monastery. shrift at the hands of his critical comrades.29 For the brothers of St. Antony's in Greenpoint, dinner was sent by Mrs. Skelly ST. PATRICK'S ACADEMY: "HAPPY DAYS" on Oakland Street. Boys vied with each Mathematics was also a strong subject at St. other to help carry the dishes back to Mrs.
Patrick's on Kent Avenue. Matthew J. McKenna Skelly in hopes of sharing in some sweet of the class of 1876 recalled: leftovers.t A feature of the Brothers' teaching was * "The Second Twenty-five Years, ' Franciscan the attention they gave to Mathematics; Brothers Newsletter, February 1983, p. 11. they succeeded in developing so many accomplished students in this study that of work and preparation for the life ahead. public exhibitions were given of their pro-What their pupils are today and such sucficiency . . . and to these exhibitions were cess as they have met within their various invited teachers from the public schools to line of endeavor are due to their teachers' examine our scholars. These public tests advice, to their solicitude, to their example created considerable interest and the results of holiness, and to the training of heart and were pronounced creditable to the students mind for which these sons of the great St. and their teachers. Francis are justly famous. I cannot speak Another activity of the Brothers was the too highly of the work of these great educapresentation of one or two Dramatic Shows tors...so kind and lovable men as Brothers during the year generally plays or dra-Aloysius, Fidelis, Sebastian and Jerome.30 mas, with an occasional try at Shakespeare. Under the leadership of Brother Jerome They didnt shy even at the operetta for they Magner, superior general for twenty-seven years in Vol.14, 2000 NEW YORK 1R15H HISTORY PAGE 21 the nineteenth century and considered the second FIFTEEN PARISH SCHOOLS founder of the Brooklyn community, St. Patrick's Through the rest of the nineteenth century, the Academy grew so rapidly that it could no longer Franciscan Brothers taught the upper-grade boys in accommodate all the boys of the parish. In 1876, fifteen parish elementary schools in the dioceses of when Brother Leo Wall was appointed principal,Brooklyn, New York, and Jersey City. They were: two classrooms were built on the second floor,St. Michael's, Flushing, in 1864 which had formerly been an auditorium.31 Immaculate Conception, Maujer Street, in 1866 SAINT MARY, STAR OF THE SEA St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Court Street, in St. Mary, Star of the Sea, parish was founded in 1869 1851, and the church was completed in 1855 at St. John the Evangelist, Twenty-first Street, a cost of fifty thousand dollars. The parishioners in 1870 were primarily from the Irish laboring class, and St. Charles, Sydney Place, in 1870 many of the men were away at sea for long peri-St. Anne's, Front Street, in 1873 ods of time. In fact, the stone for St. Mary's St. Mary's in Roundout, New York, in 1875 Church was carried from Europe as ballast in Assumption, York Street, in 1882 their ships, which docked at the Brooklyn piers St. Antony's, Greenpoint, in 1886 of Red Hook. The "New" St. Paul's, Warren Street, in 1888 Catholic education in St. Mary's parish St. Bridget's, Jersey City, in 1890 began in what was known as Mrs. Daly's School, Visitation School, Red Hook, in 1890 located in a small house on Nelson Street. It later Our Lady of Lourdes, Aberdeen Street, in moved to Smith Street. The first parish school 1892 was opened in 1856 under the direction of the Our Lady of Good Counsel, Putnam Sisters of Charity of New York. The Franciscan Avenue, in 1894 Brothers arrived in 1869, having been invited by St. Joachim's, Matteawan, New York, in the pastor, Rev. Eugene Cassidy (1857-1876), to 1896. take charge of the boys' department in the new school completed that year. The average enroll-JOYFUL POVERTY ment in the 1870s was over five hundred boys. The poverty of the brothers through most of the The sisters continued to oversee the girls' departnineteenth century was condition they shared ment of the school. with most of their students, who were primarily Although St. Mary's was a parish school, not first-generation Americans. But the quality of an academy, it was famous for its mathematics their schools and the unique joyfulness of their program. The curriculum covered the elements "examination days," when their pupils were of simple and quadratic equations, plane and cheered on by their parents and friends, is evisolid geometry, and trigonometry. dent in the memories of their alumni. The brothers own experience as Irish immigrants gave SAINT CHARLES BORROMEO SCHOOL them the ability to relate well to the many immi-Founded on Sydney Place in Brooklyn Heights grant families they served. However, their in 1849 by Rev. Charles Constantine Pise dependence on Ireland for religious vocations (1849-1866), the first Catholic chaplain of the would change after the Great War, when U.S. Senate, St. Charles Borromeo School was American young men began to join the served by the Franciscan Brothers from 1870 Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn. until 1923. Dramatics, music, religion, and Bible In 1907, the Franciscan Brothers were forced history were subjects the brothers at St. Charles to withdraw from some of their schools after were known for. Public examinations in these twenty-five brothers left the Brooklyn communisubjects were held annually in the auditorium. ty to become priests in the Third Order Regular They lasted for three days, and gold watch was in Spalding, Nebraska, and Loretto, awarded to the boy with the highest rating in cat-Pennsylvania. Today, the brothers teach or echism and Bible history. administer in St. Francis College, Brooklyn Vol.14, 2000 PAGE 22 NEW YORK 1R15H HISTORY 13 Thomas Nagle (Brother Roger, O.S.F), "Historical Heights, and at five high schools in three states.
Growth and Development of the Franciscan Brothers of They also serve in many ministries in the New Brooklyn, " M.A. thesis, St. John's University, 1943, p. 70. York metropolitan area, including campus minister at St. Francis College, computer administrator 14 "Council Minutes and General Chapters, " p. 1, Archives at Stella Maris in Rockaway Beach, and assistant of the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn. director of the office of the Propagation of the 15 "Souvenir of the Diamond Jubilee of the Franciscan Faith in Brooklyn.
Brothers, Brooklyn, N. Y., 1858-1933," p. 24. 16 "Deed Transferral Document, 1937," Franciscan Brothers Archives.
Notes 1 Irene Maria Whelan, "Evangelical Religion and the 17 "Brooklyn's Friary, Medieval Monks in Modern Days: Polarization of Protestant-Catholic Relations in Ireland, How the Sons of St. Francis Live and Teach," Brooklyn 1780-1840, " (doctoral dissertation), University of Citizen, October 24, 1886. Wisconsin, Madison, 1994. [Dr. Whelan's thesis is par- 18 "Religious Exercises at St. Francis Academy, Baltic ticularly pertinent to the history of the appearance of Street," Brooklyn Catholic, 18 June 1870. Catholic religious communities in the end of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century in 19 Brooklyn Citizen, June 26, 1875. Ireland.] 20 The college awarded bachelor of arts and science 2 Excerpted from chapter in Emmett Corry, History of degrees "in kind," and honorary master of arts and the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, forthcoming. doctor of philosophy degrees from 1885 until 1906, when the board of trustees reassessed its "honorary 3 Patrick Quinn, T.O.R., "The Third Order Regular of St.
Francis in Ireland, " ANALECTA, TOR: xxiv/153 degree" granting program. (1993), pp. 247-263. 21 The name "St. Francis College" was used for both the academy and the collegiate levels of the school through 4 Nuala Costello, John MacHale, Archbishop of Tuam, the nineteenth century.
Phoenix Pub., Dublin, 1938, pp. 74-75. 22 "Brooklyn's Friary...." Brooklyn Citizen, October 24, 5 Diane Ravitch. The Great School Wars: New York City, 1886. 1805-1973: A History of the Public Schools as Battlefields of Social Change, Basic Books, 1994, pp. 8-9. 23 Souvenir of the Diamond Jubilee, p. 74. 6 Ibid., pp. 31-32. 24 Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, "Necrology," November 19, 1910. 7 Richard Shaw, Dagger John: The Unquiet Life and Times of Archbishop John Hughes of New York. Paulist Press, 25 Letter of Kevin F. Wolfe to Brother Thomas Grady, New York, 1977, pp. 63-70. June 4, 1995, Franciscan Brothers Archives. 8 Ibid., Pp.139-175. 26 Monies to Brother Lewis: January 1, 1895, $2 for "household expenses"; March 19, 1897, $2.25 for 9 Ravitch, The Great School Wars, p. 45. "apples"; and December 15, 1897, $2 for "pans." 10 Harold A. Buetow. Of Singular Benefit: The Story of "Account Book," Franciscan Brothers Archives.
Catholic Education in the United States. Macmillan, 27 St. Francis Academy and College, "Student Account London, 1970, p. 115. Books, " Four volumes from 1896 to 1930. 11 Hughes to Sorin, 21 April 1844, Archives of the 28 Souvenir of the Diamond Jubilee, pp. 34-36. Archdiocese of New York. 29 Ibid., p. 58. 12 An 1840 letter of Bishop Bouvier of Le Mans, France, to Pope Gregory XVI, stating that the Christian 30 Ibid., pp. 42-46. Brothers require $120 annually for each brother before 31 The First Twenty-five Years, 1858-1883," Franciscan they will accept a school. In Angelus Gabriel, F.S.C., The Christian Brothers in the United States, 1848-1948, Brothers Newsletter, January 1983, p. 13. Declan X. McMullen, New York, 1948, p. 56. Vol.14, 2000