Alverno Heights Academy Welcomes Bishop David G. O’Connell


Head of School Ms. Julia Fanara welcomed Bishop David G. O’Connell and explained why we consider ourselves a “progressive” Catholic school.

This past week we celebrated our social justice Liturgy with Bishop David G. O’Connell who was new to Alverno Heights Academy. In my closing remarks I shared the following with him and the community:


“We are the only Catholic high school in the Archdiocese that identifies itself as progressive. This is not a political term but rather a social justice term. Our philosophy states:

  • That the fundamental dignity of every person is based not on possessions or accomplishments but on being created in God’s image, redeemed by Jesus Christ, and destined for resurrection;
  • That the radical challenges of the Gospel and the social teachings of the Catholic Church call for lives of justice, compassion, and service;
  • That the planet earth and all created beings are a legacy to each generation and thus to be respected, protected, and – where possible — restored;
  • That consciousness of the Sacred is fostered by a mature understanding of Sacramental meaning and ritual.

These social justice issues are a part of the very fabric of our school. It is evident in everything we do.”

I went on to describe to Bishop O’Connell the wonderful service that our students do in the community. But as I reflect on that day and these words, I see that they are even more powerful after what has happened since our celebration. Our country is going through a time of unrest and disequilibrium as we watch the new administration transition into its position as the elected leadership. Some are more comfortable with the decisions that have been made by the new President, than others. Please, understand that this is not meant to be a political post. However, I would be remiss, as the Head of School of Alverno Heights Academy to not say something.

Alverno stands for the inclusion of all peoples. As our philosophy states we honor the “fundamental dignity of each person.” In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says that on Judgment Day, He will say to the people, “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me…Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” As I looked out in the group of people gathered for our Liturgy, I saw diversity in color, creed, and nationality in our midst. How magnificent that they were all exposed to the Word of God! How ecumenical that we ALL held hands and sang the “Our Father” in true community! Alverno Heights Academy will continue to follow the radical challenges of the Gospel and the social teachings of the Catholic Church that call for lives of justice, compassion, and service!

j-fanaraMs. Julia Fanara P’01, ’03, & ’05 is the Head of School at Alverno Heights Academy. This is her 26th year at Alverno Heights Academy and she has previously served as a member of the English and Visual and Performing Arts Department, Director of Activities, Dean of Students, and Assistant Head of School. Ms. Fanara became the Head of School in June 2014. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre from Loyola Marymount University, a Master of Education degree from the University of San Francisco, a Master of Education degree in Inclusion from Loyola Marymount University, and she is currently working on her Ph.D. from Walden University. Her three daughters, Gina ’01, Alexandra ’03, and Jacqueline ’05, all graduated from Alverno. 

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