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Catholic community, past and present

12:22 PM  Jul 20th, 2012
by Rachel Sebastian '13

Professor Thomas Hunt opened his workshop at the Catholic Education Summit July 18 by addressing the history of urban Catholic education in the United States.

But this was more than just a history lesson. This was a discovery of the role of community from the very start of Catholic education.

Schools were founded in neighborhoods by Catholics who saw the value in protecting their faith as their children furthered their education. Hunt deemed them “front porch parishioners.”

Faith. Community. Porches. Our own UD family is centered on these concepts. As soon as we walk on campus, we feel home.

Hunt’s history of the development of Catholic education brings understanding and experience to how we’ve established community today. As Hunt researched the history of Catholic education, he realized there were no case studies on these distinguished communities. His book, Urban Catholic Education: Tales of Twelve Cities, accomplished this very task. During his career, Hunt has written or contributed to 26 books on religious education.

In his research for Urban Catholic Education, he found that each school system demonstrated six common threads: a will to survive, immigration, the variety of responses from the Catholic population, adaptability, community and identity.

Early urban Catholic schools were populated by immigrants such as the Polish, Irish and Germans. They worked together to protect their cultural identity and faith. They depended on one another to encourage, support and to survive. Faith formed relationships that built a community.

While our own UD community may look different from those formed a century ago, the family spirit remains the same. Students, educators and leaders leave with a stronger sense of what it means to be a part of a Catholic community and the impact that community has on education in the past, present and future.

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