'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'

A Catholic school in California has removed several religious statues because of concerns that they would “alienate” prospective students and their parents.

The San Domenico school in San Anselmo took away sculptures including one of Mary holding the Child Jesus. Previously, there had been an annual ceremony at which the children crowned Mary.

The decision has been criticised by parents. A newspaper, Marin Independent Journal, quoted Shannon Fitzpatrick saying in an email to school authorities: “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.”

She and other parents, she said, were concerned the school was leaving behind its Catholicism: it had ceased to offer catechism and preparation for First Communion and Confirmation.

But Amy Skewes-Cox, chair of the board of trustees, 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 … we didn’t want to further that.”