Spiritan Commitment to Education
Spiritan founder, Claude Poullart des Places, felt called by God to found a community dedicated to educating poor seminarians. Today, in our missions in Africa and elsewhere, the Spiritans continue to live out the vision of Claude Poullart des Places. Apart from formal education carried out in our schools, Spiritans see education as vital in all our ministries. Basic education is the first step out of poverty and toward the Gospel. In addition:
- We educate youth to take them out of the cycle of crime, drugs and unemployment.
- We educate refugees, immigrants and those on the margins of society.
Throughout the 1800s, the Spiritan ministry was heavily oriented to grass roots missionary work but its interest in education continued. Francis Libermann insisted, often against stiff opposition, that “to abandon the schools is to destroy the future of mission.”
Between 1832 and 1882 a total of 31 seminaries and colleges (not to mention trade and agricultural schools) came under the direction of the Spiritans. Among the best known are Rockwell and Blackrock Colleges (Ireland), Holy Spirit (Portugal), St. Martial (Haiti), St. Mary’s (Trinidad), The French Seminary (Rome), St. Louis (Mauritius) and Duquesne University (U.S.A.). Duquesne University was founded in 1878 as Pittsburgh Catholic College to bring higher education to the children of struggling immigrant workers. It was one of the first universities to admit women and minorities. Today, Duquesne is among the top 12 Catholic universities in the United States!
The 1900s saw the founding and growth of St. Mary’s, St. Michael’s and Templeogue Colleges (Ireland), St. Mary’s (Nairobi), St. Alexandre College (Canada), Auteuil (France), Neil McNeil and Libermann High Schools (Canada), Christ the King (Nigeria), and Holy Ghost Preparatory School (U.S.A.). And the list is not exhaustive!
Education became an important instrument of evangelization in many African countries, and presently a number of African Spiritans teach in our schools and universities in Europe and North America.