The Catholic Educational Association
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The Catholic Educational Association is a voluntary organization composed of Catholic educators and other persons who have an interest in the welfare of Catholic education in the United States of America. It includes several associations established to secure closer union and more active co-operation in special lines of work. The movement for unification began with an effort to establish a conference of seminary presidents and professors. A meeting called by the Right Rev. T. J. Conaty, Rector of the Catholic University of America, was held at St. Joseph's Seminary, New York, in May, 1898. A second meeting was held in Philadelphia, September, 1899, but nothing further was done until April, 1904, when, at the instance of the Right Rev. D. J. O'Connell, representatives of several seminaries met and decided to revive the conference, and to hold a meeting at St. Louis in July, 1904.
The first meeting of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities of the United States was called by the Right Rev. T. J. Conaty, and was held in Chicago in April, 1899. Annual meetings have been held since that time. The Parish School Conference was organized in Chicago in July, 1902, and it was then decided to meet at Philadelphia with the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities in 1903. At the Philadelphia meeting the Parish School Conference passed a resolution empowering a committee on organization to confer with the standing committee of the Association of Catholic Colleges and to draw up a plan of union. These three conferences met in St. Louis 12-14 July, 1904; and a committee including representatives of each proposed a constitution to be tried for one year. The report of the committee was unanimously adopted at a joint meeting of all three and the Catholic Educational Association was formed 14 July, 1904, the Right Rev. D. J. O'Connell being unanimously elected President General of the Association.
This Association held its second meeting in New York and a leading feature of the meeting was the remarkable public demonstration in Carnegie Hall at the close. The third meeting was held in Cleveland, and the fourth at Milwaukee ; both were notable for the increasing attendance and for the cordial approbation of the movement given by members of the hierarchy. At the meeting in Milwaukee, July, 1907, the constitution, which had been amended each year, was finally adopted, and the executive board was authorized to take steps to incorporate the association. The fifth annual meeting was held at Cincinnati in July, 1908. There was a registration of 769 names at this convention; all sections of the country were represented, and a number of religious communities sent official delegates.
An idea of the general scope oF these gatherings may be had from the subjects treated in the papers and the addresses at this meeting. Among the former were contributions on "The Present Condition of Latin Studies in the Catholic Institutions of the United States"; "The Method of Teaching Religion"; "Necessity and Means of Promoting Vocations to Teaching Orders"; "School Library and the Child's Reading ", and on the study of social questions and problems in the seminary, the present state of education and the curriculum. At the public meeting the topics were "Religious Instruction, the Basis of Morality", "The Catholic School and Social Morality", and "The Necessity of an Enlightened Conscience for the Proper Performance of Civic Duties".
The convention was the largest and most representative gathering of Catholic educators that had up to that date been held in the country. The usefulness of these meetings is now generally recognized. They give an understanding of the strength and weakness of the Catholic educational position that can be obtained in no other way. A great deal of earnest and serious work is done at them; they foster a spirit of unity and co-operation in all departments of educational work; and they inspire the educators with a greater love and devotion to their calling. The whole system of Catholic educational activity has been strengthened, unified and developed by the annual conventions of the association, and more especially was this the result of the meeting in Cincinnati.
As the understanding of the Catholic educational situation, with its difficulties and possibilities, becomes clearer, the work of the association becomes every year more definite and more practical. The slow and gradual growth of the association has given it a form of organization well suited to the development of the work. Catholic educators have a good understanding of the problems they must solve, among which are the problem of secondary education, and the problem of curriculum. Of more importance, even, than the thoroughness of educational work is the defence of the general interests of Catholic education, and the vindication of the principles on which it is based. The secular system of education is based largely on the theory that man is born for the State and that he derives his rights from the State. The socialist would have the State absorb all authority in the domain of learning and of industry, and there are many secular educators who would fain see the monopoly of education lodged in the power of the State. The Catholic system is based on the right of the parent, the right of the child, and a reasonable individualism. The resolutions of the Cincinnati convention insisted on the right of the parent in the matter of education, and the association exists for the purpose of maintaining the right of the parent and the principle of liberty of education. The Catholic Educational Association is an expression of the unity of principle that unites all Catholic educators.
The officers of the association are a president general, several vice-presidents general, a secretary general, treasurer general, and an executive board. The association includes the college, school, and seminary departments. The affairs of the association are managed by the executive board. Each department is represented in this board by its president and two other members elected by the department. Each department regulates its own affairs, and each may organize sections for the more special work in which its members are interested. In the Parish School Department, there is a Superintendents' Section and a Deaf Mute Section. A local meeting for the teachers is organized at every convention through the Parish School Department.
In the constitution the aims of the association are stated as follows: "The object of this association shall be to keep in the minds of the people the necessity of religious instruction and training as the basis of morality and sound education ; and to promote the principles and safeguard the interests of Catholic education in all its departments; to advance the general interests of Catholic education, to encourage the spirit of co-operation and mutual helpfulness among Catholic educators, to promote by study, conference, and discussion the thoroughness of Catholic educational work in the United States ; to help the cause of Catholic education by the publication and circulation of such matter as shall further these ends."
According to the report of the secretary general there were on 1 July, 1908, three hundred and sixty-four members of the Parish School Department, fifty-two colleges in the College Department, and fourteen seminaries in the Seminary Department. The association publishes an annual report giving all the papers and discussions of the association and its departments. It also publishes "The Catholic Educational Association Bulletin" quarterly, which contains matters of interest to the members of the association and articles that have an important bearing on Catholic educational work. The association has issued to 1908 five annual reports from the secretary's office, Columbus, Ohio.
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