Dismayed by the maelstrom

Dominican Sisters of San Rafael meet to discuss controversy over the removal of six Catholic statues from the campus of San Domenico School in San Anselmo

Religious artifacts removed from display on the San Domenico School were moved to storage elsewhere on campus. (courtesy photo)

The Dominican Sisters of San Rafael met as a community Sept. 10-11 to discuss the controversy over the removal of six Catholic statues from the campus of San Domenico School in San Anselmo, which the order founded in 1850.

An Aug. 24 story in the Marin Independent Journal reporting the concerns of some school parents over the school’s decision to reduce the Catholic statuary on campus from 16 to 10 items sparked international media attention and debate over the school’s Catholic identity.

“In true Dominican tradition, the sisters will be meeting as a body to pray, study and reflect on all of this,” Kate Martin, the order’s director of development and communications told Catholic San Francisco Sept. 1.

Martin said the leadership team of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, headed by Prioress General Sister Maureen McInerney, OP, began a process of “prayer, study, reflection and conversation concerning San Domenico School.”

The school is independently governed and operated but the sisters maintain canonical responsibility.

San Domenico has adjusted the number and location of its Catholic statuary many times in its long history, school officials said. The removal of six of 16 Catholic statues before the start of the 2017-18 school year is “part of that continuum,” Kimberly Pinkson, San Domenico’s director of marketing and communications, said in an email to Catholic San Francisco.

One of the current religious statues on San Domenico School’s campus in San Anselmo. Parents expressed outrage after other statues were removed or relocated from the school’s grounds. (Dan Babior/San Domenico School)

“Over San Domenico’s 167-year history as California’s oldest independent and Catholic school, we have moved our school four times and statuary has moved at each campus, and numerous times throughout our history,” she said, adding that the recent political climate and conversation have served to “distort our intentions.”

The school’s decision to remove some statues before the start of this school year reflected it’s current strategic plan to become “more inclusive” to a student body that is about 80 percent non-Catholic.

Pinkson added that some of the media reports were misleading and added to the emotionally charged reactions.

“Around campus there are at least 180 different icons, della Robbias, mosaics, crosses and other items in our chapel, personal items in offices, and other religious iconography from various faith traditions,” she said. That figure got confused with the total number of statues on campus and it was reported in error that there were only 18 out of 180 statues remaining on campus, she said.

“We are dismayed by the maelstrom caused by this recent news cycle and grateful for the outpouring of support from both Catholics and non-Catholics to the changes at our school,” she said. “Many parents, alums, faculty, staff, and community members have stepped up to voice their backing to retain our strong commitment to our Dominican Catholic education while at the same time remaining an independent school that is inclusive for all.”

Mike Brown, communications director for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, said “the archdiocese and school leadership are discussing these important issues.”

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.



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  1. The fact that they just don’t get it is also part of the problem. They are like hapless media types who can’t understand that people actually voted FOR Trump. These sisters are tone deaf and have let the Catholic steadily slip away from their school, and most likely, from their vocations. They must take responsibility for the steady downward slide for this is the path they have chosen.

    Formerly Catholic San Domenico School, RIP.

  2. Blah, blah, blah. Busted. Now waiting out the firestorm until something else happens to divert the public’s attention.

    • and who do the statures belong to?
      It seems that the Sisters are well within their rights.
      Did you read the whole article?

      • Interesting. “Who do the statues belong to?”

        The correct answer would be: “To those believing Catholics who for generations donated in good faith their finances to support this school and everything in it.”

        And from whom everything is now being stolen.

        • As someone who has donated statues and other religious items to parishes, when I give them, I give them. I surrender all rights to them. They belong to the Church.

  3. You’re either Catholic…..or you are not!!!

    Remember what Jesus said about ‘Lukewarmness’ dear sisters!!!

  4. This counts as a modern masterpiece of the Devil.
    Just precisely what else could be more “inclusive” than “come to be all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”

  5. John Patrick says:

    When catholic sisters deny the Faith by action, they are surely not holy nor catholic anymore

  6. Jo Ann Reyes says:

    A Catholic School should be just that. Other religious items in the school don’t belong there. You should be trying to bring in more Catholics. Teach the Catholic faith. The true faith. Other denominations are not all the same. Jesus did not start their churches. Why is the Catholic Church being watered down. Why are there lay people and a “Communications Director” in that school. Teach the teachings of Jesus when he was here on earth. He made no exceptions. Either your with him or you’re not. There is no in between.

  7. Steve Seitz says:

    If people come willfully and voluntarily into a Catholic environment, there is no presumption or need for “inclusivity.” In fact, many of these non-Catholics could be there precisely because there are things about the Catholicity that they like.

    In my view, the Sisters are engaged in the old human foe of rationalization.

  8. The Real Ralph says:

    Just close the place. It’s 80% non-Catholic? Public schools probably have more Catholics than that. Why are the nuns running a secular school? Of course – because they just could never bring themselves to throw in the towel as they kept watering down the faith to accommodate the fewer and and fewer Catholics who care about anything Catholic in the wake of the post-Vatican II devastation. Now they’re standing there holding the bag – a so-called Catholic school with no Catholics in it, and nobody there who is interested in Catholic religion classes. Like so many formerly Catholic high schools, who are now just functionally elite prep schools left with only some faux Catholic veneer.

  9. Kate Martin’s (spokesperson for the Dominican Sisters) information is a bit of a disinformation campaign, because in fact 7 of the 16 statues removed from the most prominent displayed areas were done so because as at least one official (Trustee Amy Skewes-Cox specifically) said previously some not of the Catholic faith whose children attend the school were “alienated” (her word) by the statues of St. Francis, St Dominic and other saints. (Marin Independent-Journal, Aug. 24, 2017). As a trustee, presumably she should know the reason for the “statutory decapitation”.

    All this verbiage now is belated derriere-occultation.

  10. The Real Ralph sums it up perfectly. Good for you Ralph for calling a space a spade. You got it correct! And the other thing is the money that the Dominican Sisters receive for tuition. The bottom line is always money. To quote Elizabeth – “you are Catholic or your are not”. The Dominican Sisters are showing their true colors…..loud and clear.

  11. The demons are in control. The Catholic Identity and Sisters are as calcified as the statuary; all will soon be removed.

  12. God sent His Son for love of all humanity. Should Jesus not have come to earth to prevent anyone from being offended? Silly sisters – you’ve lost your faith in Jesus Christ who said plainly, “I AM the Way, Truth and Life.”

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