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News Briefs

Catholic schools take home 40 National Blue Ribbon awards

September 28, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

CNA Staff, Sep 28, 2020 / 07:08 pm (CNA).- Catholic schools received 80% of the 2020 National Blue Ribbon awards issued to private schools this year by the Department of Education. Of 50 private schools to win the award, 40 are Catholic.  

This year, the Department of Education designated 367 schools–317 public and 50 non-public–as National Blue Ribbon Schools. The 40 Catholic schools honored were from 17 states and 21 dioceses.

The awards were announced on September 24.

“The National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of students, educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging content,” says the Department of Education’s website for the award.

“The National Blue Ribbon Schools flag gracing a school’s building is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning. National Blue Ribbon Schools are an inspiration and a model for schools still striving for excellence,” says the site.

Schools can be designated as National Blue Ribbon winner once every five years.

For non-public schools to be recognized, their students must score in the top 15% nationally on standardized English and math tests.

Kelly Branaman, secretary for Catholic schools and superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Washington, told CNA that she was “appreciative” that non-public schools were recognized as well as public schools.

“This allows Catholic schools across the country to demonstrate their excellence on a national level,” she said to CNA on September 28.

Two schools in the Archdiocese of Washington were recognized as Blue Ribbon schools for this year.

“It is gratifying that the U.S. Department of Education recognizes what so many parents and teachers already know: that our Catholic schools provide a great education where academic excellence and our Catholic faith thrive,” said Branaman.

“We’re grateful for this honor, and it will serve to inspire us as we will continue to offer our students an outstanding education.”


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News Briefs

Ecuadorian president vetoes health code bill

September 28, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Quito, Ecuador, Sep 28, 2020 / 05:19 pm (CNA).- The Ecuadorian president on Friday vetoed the entire Health Code bill passed by the country’s legislature. The bill would have opened the door to abortion, surrogate motherhood, and teaching gender … […]

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News Briefs

Graffiti attacks on San Diego-area churches being investigated as hate crimes

September 28, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

Denver Newsroom, Sep 28, 2020 / 04:31 pm (CNA).- Two Eastern Catholic churches in San Diego County suffered graffiti vandalism attacks over the weekend, and while authorities are treating the incidents as connected, they have not yet determined the perpetrators’ motives.

St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Cathedral in El Cajon, California on Sept. 25 was defaced with graffiti depicting “pentagrams, upside down crosses, white power, swastikas,” as well as slogans such as “Biden 2020,” and “BLM” (Black Lives Matter).

The cathedral is the seat of the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle of San Diego.

The same evening, Our Mother of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, also in El Cajon, was similarly attacked, with the pastor discovering spray-painted swastikas on an exterior wall of the church the next day.

Our Mother of Perpetual Help is a Syriac Catholic church, part of the Syriac Eparchy of Our Lady of Deliverance of Newark.

The sheriff’s department has not officially announced any suspects, but is investigating the incidents as hate crimes.

Monsignor Emad Hanna Al-Shaikh, pastor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, told CNA he alerted all the relevant authorities when he discovered the vandalism, and later painted over the graffiti.

Msgr. Al-Shaikh said he strongly suspects the same perpetrators who hit St. Peter cathedral also defaced his church, though he does not yet have proof. The churches are located three miles apart.

He said he does not know of any reason why someone would vandalize his church, and does not know who might have carried out the attack.

“We’re friends with everybody, we love everybody, and we’re at peace with everybody,” he said.

Sargent Mike Hettinger, a detective investigating the incidents, told CNA that the Sheriff’s Department does currently have some “good leads” in the case, including surveillance video, tips from the community, and physical evidence collected that they do not yet want to make public.

The department does believe the two crimes are related, he said. There appear to have been five perpetrators, and based on the video evidence they appeared to be juveniles, he said.

The motive for the crimes remains unclear, especially since the messages of the graffiti— which included, for example, both swastikas and “BLM”— appear to be at odds with each other.

There were protests taking place in downtown San Diego that evening, so the graffiti could be related to that, he said, but investigators are not yet certain on that point.

The vandalism comes amid a spate of similar incidents at Catholic churches that has lasted for months. Earlier last week a man burned pews in an arson attack in a Florida Catholic church, and a man with a baseball bat damaged a crucifix and several doors at a Texas seminary.

Last week a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was destroyed in a Texas cathedral.

Also last week, a parish in Midvale, Utah, saw back-to-back attacks. St. Therese of the Child Jesus Catholic Church had its namesake statue beheaded followed by burglary on subsequent nights.

A historic church built by St. Junipero Serra was burned in California this summer, in a fire being investigated as arson. A Florida man was arrested for setting flame to a parish church in the Orlando diocese.

Fires have been started and statues of Christ, Mary, and saints have been beheaded or destroyed at parishes across the country, while in California numerous public statues of St. Junipero Serra have been torn down, defaced, and destroyed.

While some attacks on statues have been committed by large groups with clear political affiliations, the perpetrators of other acts have not been identified.

A poll conducted at the end of August by RealClear Opinion Research in partnership with EWTN News found that 83 percent of Catholic likely voters are concerned about attacks on churches in recent months.


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