Juvenile Reformation - Irish in America

John Francis Maguire
1868
CHAPTER XXVII

Juvenile Reformation—Opposition to Catholic Reformatories—The two Systems Illustrated—Christianity Meek and Loving—The Work of the Enemy—Solemn Appeals to Catholic Duty

IN their various institutions for the protection and reformation of juveniles, the Americans are keeping pace with the enlightened spirit of European progress. They wisely believe that prevention is less expensive than cure—that, whatever their apparent costliness, precaution and prevention are certain to be in the end more economical and more useful than punishment. They hold, with all sensible men from the days of Solomon to our own, that it is easier to incline the twig than bend the tree—to direct the small stream into the right channel, than to deal with the swollen torrent; that if vice is to be effectually suppressed or diminished, you must begin with the beginning. This is the belief and the policy of every really enlightened man or woman of the Old World or the New. In this spirit was founded the Colony of Mettray, in France, and the juvenile reformatory of the Vigna Pia in Rome, which, some ten years since, I beheld in active and successful operation. It is in the same spirit that the Catholic Church, now as in former ages, in America as in Europe, gathers under her sheltering wing the orphan, and the 'half-orphan,' or the child in danger of ruin. The calendar of the Church is resplendent with the names of men and women whose lives have been devoted to the sacred duty which modern philanthropists and social reformers are imitating at a long distance.