Removal of a number of statues and other smaller Catholic icons from the campus of San Domenico School in San Anselmo has raised concerns among some parents.
In an email to the school’s board of directors, Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and the head of school, parent Shannon Fitzpatrick objected to the removal of the statues and other steps the school has taken in an effort to make the school more inclusive.
She wrote, “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.”
Amy Skewes-Cox, who heads San Domenico School’s board of trustees, said the relocation and removal of some of the school’s 180 religious icons was “completely in compliance” with San Domenico’s new strategic plan.
She noted that it was unfortunate the removal of the statues occurred at about the same time as the unrest in Charlottesville over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, and that the issues are “totally different” and have “absolutely no connection other than it is change, and people have a hard time with change.”
Skewes-Cox said, “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.”
Fitzpatrick, who has an 8-year old son at the school, wrote that she became concerned with the direction of San Domenico when it removed “first reconciliation and first communion from the second-grade curriculum,” last year.
Head of School Cecily Stock said the year before last the school began offering catechism after school and then last year phased it out entirely.
“We had very few families interested. I think last year it was fewer than five,” Stock said. “It just made sense to have the students prepare for communion with their local parishes where they would be with a larger group of students.”
Stock said, “Over the last few years we’ve had fewer Catholic students as part of the community and a larger number of students of various faith traditions. Right now about 80 percent of our families do not identify as Catholic.”
Rather than indoctrinate students in Catholic theology, San Domenico provides students with instruction in world religions and philosophy.
“It’s really about empowering each student and giving them the information so they can discover their own purpose, their own truth,” Stock said.
Mirza Khan, the school’s director of philosophy, ethics and world religions, said, “The Dominican teaching philosophy is not to teach there is only one truth.”
Full story at marinij.com.