San Domenico School, a nominally Catholic institution in San Anselmo, California, has removed the vast majority of its Christian statues and icons as “an effort to be inclusive of all faiths.”
The iconoclasm comes as a nationwide war rages to erase from public spaces historical symbols some people find offensive. San Domenico officials told the Marin Independent Journal that their “strategic plan,” which includes removing the word “Catholic” from the school’s mission statement, has nothing to do with the events this month in Charlottesville or the wider controversy about historical monuments.
“[P]eople have a hard time with change,” San Domenico board of trustees chairwoman Amy Skewes-Cox said, denying the plan, which does not see the removal of all but 18 of the school’s 180 religious symbols as having anything to do with the campaign against Confederate monuments. “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.”
Artifacts removed include a statue of the Virgin Mary holding the Christ once prominently placed in the school’s center courtyard. “The one main statue that has everyone fired up is the baby Jesus and Mary one,” Kim Pipki, a mother who withdrew her child from San Domenico said. “People were shocked that the statues were pitched in the basement.”
Other parents were similarly upset. Another San Domenico mother, Shannon Fitzpatrick, described it as follows:
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.
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.