San Domenico is a Catholic school in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is independent from church influences, as it is not owned or operated by any religious group. But, other groups are now influencing it.
Religious community leaders have said they are fine with the removal of the statue of Mary and Jesus from the school grounds, according to the Washington Free Beacon. “San Domenico is a Catholic school; it also welcomes people of all faiths,” Sister Maureen McInerney said. “It is making an effort to be inclusive of all faiths.”
The removal of the statues, apparently, has nothing to do with the leftist movement across the country to tear down statues of people they disagree with. Instead the school officials have brought the statue down themselves, arguing they want to be inclusive to non-Catholic students.
The main statue, that of Mary holding the baby Jesus, once played a pivotal role in school life.
The teachers and students held a yearly ceremony where they crowned Mary. Now, the statue has been thrown into the basement, according to the Marin Independent Journal.
A parent, Shannon Fitzpatrick, argued that being more inclusive seems to only mean being less catholic. She told local news, “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.”
Since when does being inclusive of other religions mean one has to abandon ones own traditions and way of life? Are we not free, in this country, to practice our own faith, so long as we allow others to practice theirs?
Mirza Khan is the school’s director of philosophy, ethics, and world religions. His father and grandfather taught the Sufi Muslim tradition, and he defends the school’s focus on other religions, arguing, “The Dominican teaching philosophy is not to teach there is only one truth. 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.”
One can invite people of other faiths into a dialogue without abandoning one’s own faith and traditions. And, we should, as Americans, expect that others who feel offended by the school’s Catholic roots would simply choose to attend another school, as is their right.
A Catholic school removed statues to be more inclusive. Should all religious symbolism be removed from religious schools?
Amy Skewes-Cox, the head of San Domenico School’s board of trustees, argues that seeing a statue of Mary and Jesus on the school grounds could be “alienating” to those of other religions.
The school had 180 religious icons, and it now has roughly 18. Why the school has chosen to care more about the feelings of hypothetical complainers, over the feelings of connection and tradition of their own students, is unclear.
The school board unanimously passed a new strategic plan last year, which has directed the vision for the school, including the removal of these statues and the ending of some of the school’s religious traditions.