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Catholic School Removes Statues of Jesus and Mary To Be More ‘Inclusive’

An independent K-12 Catholic school in the San Francisco Bay Area has removed religious statues from its campus in order to appeal to those of other faiths.

Parents and alumni are concerned about San Domenico School’s decision to remove a number of statutes and religious icons, especially those of Jesus and Mary, the Marin Independent Journal reported.

“Articulating an inclusive foundation appears to mean letting go of San Domenico’s 167-year tradition as a Dominican Catholic school and being both afraid and ashamed to celebrate one’s heritage and beliefs,” wrote parent Shannon Fitzpatrick in an email to school decision makers.

“In our time here, the word ‘Catholic’ has been removed from the mission statement, sacraments were removed from the curriculum, the lower school curriculum was changed to world religions, the logo and colors were changed to be ‘less Catholic,’ and the uniform was changed to be less Catholic,” she continued.

The loss of tradition and ceremony is a leading reason why families—some of whom are not Catholic—have expressed concern about the change.

“The one main statue that has everyone fired up is the baby Jesus and Mary one,” parent Kim Pipki told the Journal. Pipki said the school traditionally held a ceremony where the students would place a crown on Mary’s head.

School supporters, however, say that the removal is reflective of the school’s “inclusive” future.

Sister Maureen McInerney, prioress general of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, told the paper that she was OK with the decision. “San Domenico is a Catholic school; it also welcomes people of all faiths,” McInerney said. “It is making an effort to be inclusive of all faiths.”

Head of School Cecily Stock noted that while the local community knows San Domenico is Catholic, the school was making assertions that it was not run by the church or an order.

“We want to make sure that prospective families are aware that we are an independent school,” Stock said.

“Right now about 80 percent of our families do not identify as Catholic,” she added.

San Domenico does not instruct its students in Catholic theology. Director of philosophy, ethics, and world religions Mirza Khan, whose father and grandfather were Sufi Muslim teachers, said that fact is well within the school’s Dominican tradition.

“The Dominican teaching philosophy is not to teach there is only one truth,” he said. “It is to foster conversation, to intentionally invite in participants that have different perspectives in a very open-ended process of philosophical and spiritual inquiry.”

San Domenico was founded in 1850 as an independent, Catholic school—meaning that it is not owned or operated by a parish or religious order.

Amy Skewes-Cox, head of the San Domenico School’s board of trustees, said the relocation and removal of the icons is not related to the unrest in Charlottesville, Va. and the debate over the removal of Confederate-era statutes. She called the timing “unfortunate” and said the issues have “absolutely no connection other than it is change, and people have a hard time with change.”

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  2. elmer goetz

    August 26, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    I don’t have a real big problem with change. What I do have a problem with is seeing a school that pretends it’s Catholic buckle under ultra liberal pressure and then lie about it. Keep the school but DO NOT call it a Catholic school. I attened 12 years of Catholic school and I am highly insulted by what is happening in the name of diversity. You’re either a Catholic or you’re not. There’s no grey area.

  3. brendan

    August 26, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    What a sad commentary on a catholic school. Let me remind this school that it was Obama that removed God from our country. When you remove God, there is chaos. Just look at our country today. This school is an embarrassment to the catholic church. You’ve created an environment to ‘attract more students not an environment to teach students about their faith. You should close your doors if you can’t maintain the history and catholic environment that so many students remember about this school. You will do anything to make more money.

  4. Neila Denny

    August 26, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    I am Catholic and if they remove the statues in my church because of that teaching I will refuse to attend church period I love the statues of the virgin Mary and baby Jesus leave them alone

  5. Charles A. Raben

    August 28, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    This is not good!! Seems as if everyone wants to take down statues in this wild country of ours! I must say that those statues are a part of history towards that school & parish & should not be touched but yet praised!!!! The beautiful statues that represent Catholicism should stay as they are intended!!! It’s a good thing that portions of Rome are not near our complicated country!!!!

  6. Angel Pagano

    August 30, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I am so angered by this new “thing” to take away our statues just to fit in and be more inviting to others. I am a cradle Catholic and I will always be Catholic until the day I die and I am deeply offended by this whole issue. How dare you take away that which, we as true Catholics, have grown up with and that which gives us solace when we are in mourning or just want to pray. The nuns who are encouraging this should be reprimanded. I am appalled at their candor. I will fight to keep them in our churches.

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