Chicago Catholic school rejects notion of hiding its identity
A Catholic high school in Chicago will not remove religious icons from the premises to push higher enrollment the way a California school has done.
“We are not going to apologize for being a Catholic school," John Kimec, principal at St. Francis de Sales High School, told the Prairie State Wire. "We are going to promote it and be proud of it."
The San Domenico School in San Anselmo, California, has come under fire for relocating a statue of baby Jesus and Mary from the primary school courtyard to the basement of the school.
The removal of the statute and other religious icons on the grounds is in “complete compliance,” according to San Domenico trustee Amy Skewes-Cox, who told the Marin Independent Journal that it is part of a plan to welcome non-Catholic students.
But parents, who pay an average of $30,000 in annual intuition, are not happy with the plan.
“I understand the context and the dilemma to a degree, but we are moving in the opposite direction," Kimec said. "We are bringing in our Catholic identity even more in terms of remaining very faithful to church teaching, to increasing the opportunities we have for literacy and prayer.
"I don’t think in any way you are alienating anyone by being proud of your Catholic identity in terms of remaining very faithful to church teaching, to increase the opportunity we have for literary and prayer."
Shannon Fitzpatrick, headmaster of San Domenico, told the Journal that the school’s goal of inclusion is simultaneously stripping it of its identity.
“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 said, according to the paper.
This is not the first drastic change the school, founded in 1850 by the Dominican Sisters, has made to bring in more students. Two years ago it moved catechism classes from in-school curriculum to after-school and stopped it altogether last year. Some students enrolled in San Domenico practice Christianity, while others practice Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.
“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," Skewes-Cox said.
Kimec said being proud of one's Catholic identity is in no way alienating.
"The goal of a Catholic school is to evangelize," Kimec said. "The sacred heart image is a tool to point people toward Christ. I don’t know why they are doing what they are doing. but I can tell you de Sales is doing the exact opposite."