Dear Fr. Clooney:
I am responding to your letter of July 20. I am the Department Chair of Theology at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, DC. Below are some responses to the questions you posed in your letter.
1. Our Catholic student population has actually increased a bit in the last few years. This reflects the fact that we have strong applicants from DC, Maryland, and Virginia parishes. The non-Catholic population stands at about 25%. A number of the African-American students are from AME, Baptist, and Holiness congregations. We have had Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist students. I don't know if any have been Moslem. We have a few Mormons, as well as mainline Prostestants.
Our staff is about 3% non-Catholic. One young science teacher is an Orthodox Jew. Several teachers are Episcopalian. One teacher is Methodist, one African-American is Baptist. A few years ago we had a Moslem science teacher, but he has since left (he was the life of the faculty, too!).
2. World Religions is not currently a part of our curriculum. However, many of us in the Theology Dept. attempt to discuss other religions when we can. I bring Judaism, Zoroastrianism and Islam into my Scripture class. I discuss the beliefs and practices of other faiths whenever relevant in my Social Justice class (e.g., Why is Jerusalem a sticking point for Jews and Palestinians at the current stage of their peace talks? Well...What is Jerusalem for a Jew? What is Jerusalem for a Moslem Arab? What is Jerusalem for a Christian Arab?) Fr. Longtin, who teaches Systematics to senior, brings in the views of other faith traditions. Our current curriculum is set up to attempt to give a solid grounding in Catholic/Christian faith. We find that our students are unchurched, poorly catechized on the grade school level, and lacking much familiarity with their own tradition. However, it is my hope to broaden the electives we offer on the senior level. A course in world religions--which I have taught in other high schools and enjoy immensely--would be a wonderful addition to our offerings.
3. I would be the person to use as a contact person. Frankly, I may well be the only one in my department who has a strong interest in world religions. I will ask Fr. Longtin if he would like to be added to this list, he may be interested as well.
Thank you for including us in your project. I am very interested in its progress and am willing to do whatever is in my power to help.
Carol H. Corgan
Created: September 3, 2000 Updated: September 3, 2000