A Catholic School in CA Removes Statues of the Virgin Mary and Jesus So They Can Be More Inclusive

The Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ are two of the most significant figures in Christianity. They are both such fixtures of the faith that frequently statues of them grace the halls or doorways of hospitals, churches, schools, homes and cars. This has also been true of Catholic schools, until now, that is. One Catholic school in San Anselmo, California has decided they needed to remove and relocate some of their statues, including those of the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and other religious figures, under the guise of being more inclusive and diverse.

According to Amy Skewes-Cox, who serves as chair of the school’s board of trustees, “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.”

Head of the school, Cecily O’Byrne Stock defends the removal and relocation of the religious statues by stating that Catholic students are now the minority at the school. She says, “Right now about 80 percent of our families do not identify as Catholic.”

Despite current statistics, it doesn’t change the fact that the school was founded by Mother Mary Goemaere and the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael in 1850, becoming the first independent and first Catholic School in California. Through the years, despite many financial difficulties, the Sisters were determined to keep the school going. Eventually, it became one of the most reputable schools in the state. In 2014, the school, which originally served female students only, was approved for coeducation. This decision had to be approved by the Dominican Sisters of the Dominican Order, who oversees the school.

So while the school does claim to be both independent and Catholic, its history includes those of the Catholic faith who were instrumental in the success of the school. And for that reason, many parents who had children graduate from the school or who have children currently enrolled in the school, consider it an abomination that religious statues symbolizing the Catholic faith are being removed. They also feel that it’s a slap in the face to those of the Catholic faith who founded the school.

One parent, Shannon Fitzpatrick has said that removing and relocating the statues is an indication of the steady erosion of the school’s Catholic image. In a letter she had written to school officials she said, “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.”

Fitzpatrick goes on to say that during her 8-year old son’s time at the school, school officials removed the word “Catholic” from their mission statement and also discontinued some of the sacraments from being part the curriculum. Other things have also changed so that the school could appear to be “less Catholic” such as the uniforms, the colors, and the logo.

Another parent, Cheryl Newell, who had four children graduate from the school says, “They’re trying to be something for everyone and they’re making no one happy.”

Joe Perticone, a reporter for the Independent Journal Review in Washington D.C., is a former resident of San Anselmo. After finding out about the debacle he tweeted, “Insane. My hometown’s Catholic school is removing statues of Mary and Jesus because, “it could be alienating.”

Michael Brown, spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco says, “We are going to be in contact with the school, just to clarify what the situation is, but it isn’t in any sort of crisis mode. There’s just been a lot of publicity and public concern, so we’ll be having private conversations with the school hierarchy.”

Kate Martin, Director of Communications for the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael has stated they intend to look into the matter further and find out what is going to happen to the statues that have been removed.

The plan to remove some of the statues was based on a unanimous decision by the school board. While officials at the school state they are removing the religious statues in order to appear more inclusive, critics argue that being inclusive means being accepting of differences, not eliminating them altogether.

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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