On Oct. 27, 2021, Holy Rosary Academy, one of the most academically successful private schools in Alaska, has been separated from the Catholic Church by the top Catholic in the state, the Archbishop of Anchorage-Juneau
In a letter to the school, Archbishop Andrew Bellisario wrote that the school had not met his nine mandates, which included provisions involving curriculum and health mandates. Some Catholics reached out to Must Read Alaska and said the mandates included a mask mandate for students. The crackdown from the archbishop started several months ago and the school and his office have been negotiating since.
Bellisario’s Tuesday letter was a followup from last week’s ultimatum. In it, he acknowledged he had heard form Catholics wanting him to reconsider.
“I understand the concerns and frustration with this situation and I share in their disappointment. It does worry me that some children and parents feel they are being abandoned by their Archdiocese. It is important for me to express that I have always kept the care, education and safety of the children and all Catholics of the Archdiocese in the forefront of my decision,” he wrote.
“As your Archbishop, I am ultimately responsible for every Catholic institution in the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau, including any privately owned and operated Catholic school. I have insisted that the members of the Board of Trustees accept the minimum standards that I specified in order to fulﬁll my obligation under Church law to protect all of the people of God in this Archdiocese, including those served by Holy Rosary Academy. In any diocese, it is the bishop who has the authority to determine whether a school is a Catholic school,” he wrote.
“I respect the right of the members of the Board of Trustees to make decisions for Holy Rosary Academy. The Board of Trustees cannot expect the privileges of a Catholic school without accepting the obligations of this recognition. I have clearly explained what is necessary to grant Catholic recognition to Holy Rosary Academy in the new Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau. I want to do so, but it is impossible for me to grant recognition without acceptance of the minimum standards that I speciﬁed,” Bellisario wrote.
“Regrettably, as of today, October 26, 2021, I do not recognize Holy Rosary Academy as a Catholic school. Holy Rosary Academy does not have the obligations or privileges of a Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau. The students. parents. families, staff and supporters of Holy Rosary Academy will always be welcome to celebrate Mass and receive the sacraments in their own parishes. If, at any time, the members of the Board of Trustees decide to agree to accept and adhere to the minimum standards of a Catholic school as I have specified.
they are welcome to request recognition of Holy Rosary Academy as a Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Anchorage-Juneau,” the he wrote.
The school board of trustees and headmaster sent a note to parents on Wednesday morning, acknowledging the decision.
“We have prayed fervently, offered Masses, adored Our Lord for hours on end seeking guidance and a peaceful resolution to this situation, and we have our answer. We must trust in His will and go forth confident in the work we are doing here at the School, a vibrant and beautiful place of classical learning, Catholic faith, and true joy. With record enrollment, strong fundraising, an amazing faculty, and outstanding recognition for HRA this year, a bright future lies ahead for our students, families, and staff,” the school wrote to the Holy Rosary community. The school has an enrollment of about 150 students, 39 percent of whom are racial minorities. 14% of students are of Asian or Pacific Islander, or of Hawaiian heritage, and 10% are hispanic.
Starting Wednesday, Holy Rosary Academy will be known as a “Classical School in the Catholic Tradition,” but not a church-controlled Catholic school.
“This will have no impact on our desire to form saints and students ready for a life well-lived,” the board wrote. “We will continue to offer our school as a model for living by the laws of our Creator as we depend on the Trinity, Our Blessed Mother, and the angels and saints to guide us in our efforts to lead others to sanctity. Our classrooms will remain filled with the wisdom of the ages, our hearts will remain open to Truth, Beauty and Goodness. In conversation with the Church fathers, our souls will still reach towards heaven and the open arms of our Christ and His Father,” the board wrote to parents.