In an attempt at inclusivity, one Catholic school in California is removing all evidence of its Catholicism, even resorting to taking down a statue of the baby Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
Marinij.com reported that San Domenico School in San Anselmo, California, had removed/relocated a vast number of Catholic statues and expressions to become more inclusive of other religions.
In doing so, the move has attracted a number of negative reactions from parents whose students attend the Catholic school.
Currently, 18 of their 180 Catholic icons and statues have been removed by the school.
Amy Skewes-Cox, head of the school’s board of trustees, has claimed that the process of removing the statues is “completely in compliance” with school legislation, and was approved by the school board and the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael last year.
Kim Pipki, a parent of one student who used to attend San Domenico, called the removal of the statues as particularly contentious.
“The one main statue that has everyone fired up is the baby Jesus and Mary one, it was at the center of the primary school courtyard.”
“It was less about God and more about passing on some traditions. People were shocked that the statues were pitched in the basement.”
Shannon Fitzpatrick, the mother of an eight-year-old girl who currently attends Domenico, sent an email to the school expressing her utter disapproval of the so-called ‘inclusive changes’.
Apparently, according to Ms Fitzpatrick, the school’s version of “inclusion” apparently means completely removing Catholicism from the school.
“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,” .
“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 was first alarmed by the school’s proposed changes last year. This was when San Domenico removed “first reconciliation and first communion from the second-grade curriculum.”
Fitzpatrick followed up her email and noted that she wasn’t the only parent who was disgruntled by the changes.
“There are other families having the same concerns I do. Many parents feel if the school is heading in a different direction then the San Domenico community should have been notified before the signing of the enrollment for the following year,”
Cheryl Newell, whose four children have graduated from San Domenico explained:
“I am extremely disappointed in the school and the direction they’ve been going. This isn’t a new thing that they’ve been intentionally eroding their Catholic heritage. They’re trying to be something for everyone and they’re making no one happy.”
No specific parish owns or operates San Domenico, but was instead founded as an independent Catholic school.
Headteacher Cecily Stock went on to explain that this is the entire reason behind why the school has acted to become more inclusive. The school is well known for being Catholic at heart, but people fail to understand that it also acts an an independent.
“San Domenico is both a Catholic school and an independent school, but what we were finding after doing some research is that in the broader community we are known as being a Catholic school and are not necessarily known as an independent school.”
“We want to make sure that prospective families are aware that we are an independent school.”
“If you walk on the campus and the first thing you confront is three or four statues of St. Dominic or St. Francis, it could be alienating for that other religion, and we didn’t want to further that feeling,”