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Holy Rosary Academy loses Catholic school designation from archdiocese

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 6:37 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A longtime Anchorage Catholic school has gotten word that it is no longer considered a Catholic school by the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau. The school lost that designation earlier this week after it refused to agree to a list of terms Archbishop Andrew Bellisario said were necessary to continue with the designation.

Holy Rosary Board Chairman Sam Wolfe said the Board of Trustees received a letter from the archbishop in April that listed what the school would need to agree to in order to keep its Catholic school designation. Wolfe said the list went well beyond the school’s religious teachings and gave a lot of power over its daily operations to the archdiocese.

“Some of the language ... ceded a great deal of control regarding our curriculum, regarding any type of hiring and firing indemnification,” Wolfe said. “And then also included in that agreement, an understanding that any future changes would be agreed to as well, kind of unilaterally, not necessarily with our consent.”

The Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau is a new Archdiocese, and Archbishop Andrew Bellisario is its new Archbishop. In a response to questions from Alaska’s News Source, the archdiocese wrote that the establishment of the new Archdiocese “has required that we review the relationship of the new archdiocese with all institutions associated with the Catholic Church within its territory.”

“This isn’t a control issue. But a matter of responsibility,” the statement went on to say. “In the Catholic Church, the archbishop has governing authority and is ultimately responsible for all Catholic activities and institutions in the archdiocese, including any privately owned and operated Catholic school.”

Ultimately, the school concluded it wouldn’t meet the entire list of “minimum standards” needed to keep its Catholic designation. In a letter sent to parents, the school said Holy Rosary Academy would be known going forward as “a Classical School in the Catholic Tradition.” It reminded them that little would change by losing the official Catholic school designation.

But one thing is already different. Decertification means priests are no longer allowed to deliver mass in the school’s chapel, give communion or take confessions on campus. Asked if this could change could be reversed, the archdiocese wrote:

“Like all other Catholics, the parents, families, staff, and supporters of the Holy Rosary Academy have full access to worship and the Sacraments at their own parish churches, several of which are readily available in the Anchorage and Mat-Su areas.”

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