Statement on Religious Diversity
Xavier Academy is a crossroads for a range of communities. We are a meeting place for and home to a wide array of cultures, multiple generations, an assortment of academic disciplines, and a range of differing perspectives. We recognize that diversity in one category is impossible without diversity in others. We are a meeting place for differing religious beliefs and practices as well as spiritualities, and we encourage and are committed to providing institutional support to a diversity of religious traditions, spiritualities, and ethical systems.
As a community, we are committed to creating an environment welcoming to people who pursue various meaningful ideas and practices. Our profound commitment is to respect every individual, to be truthful and act with integrity, to pursue peace and justice, and to seek to build communities. For all of us, these principles are not merely exhortations but standards by which we try to live our lives every day. As a result, religious life at Xavier Academy reflects not only communities of faith but also recognizes spiritual and ethical traditions that are not based on religious practice. In addition, we understand that an enlightened model of religious diversity encourages the presence and perspective of humanists, agnostics, and atheists.
As a religiously plural community, we recognize that while there are many times and much that we will choose to celebrate together, there should be times for Catholics to be together with Catholics, Muslims with Muslims, Hindus with Hindus, Jews with Jews, Agnostics with Agnostics, Atheists with Atheists, and so on. We are committed, therefore, to making it as easy as possible for students, faculty, and staff to celebrate their holy days, hold their retreats, and say their prayers within their respective religious communities. We believe there must be occasions and places where each religious group feels itself to be the norm and where the participants are literate in the practices of a unique tradition. We do not impose a particular spiritual practice on others; at the same time, we welcome friends and visitors to all our activities. We facilitate the participation of Xavier Academy students in religious communities beyond the campus and welcome our neighbors to religious practices and celebrations on campus.
Our goal is to be appropriately respectful and appreciative of our various religious traditions and those whose traditions are non-religious. We seek to provide educational opportunities for each of us to learn about one another’s cultures and practices. While we recognize the need for each group to spend time apart from others, we also recognize the need to get to know each other better and to enrich our lives by learning from people whose religious practices differ from ours and people who do not identify themselves with a historical religious community. Dialogue can sometimes be painful; the legacies of intolerance run through the histories of almost all religions. Nevertheless, respectful dialogue is the first step in modeling a peaceful world, welcoming what is strange, making new friends, and, for those who choose, deepening our spiritual lives. But no position should be imposed from one person on another. We welcome dialogues based on mutual consent in which the explanation of each person’s secular or religious position is offered.
As a college-preparatory school, Xavier Academy expects its students and faculty to develop their intellects to the greatest extent possible. Through our curriculum and many activities outside the classroom, we seek to strengthen the academic disciplines and their interconnections. We are a school committed to the view that the intellect can most fruitfully develop in an environment with opportunities for those who desire spiritual seeking and religious life. We do not ask community members to relate intellect and spirit but understand that a vital learning community invites conversations between and among people of particular religious faiths and those with no religion or affiliation. Such discussions are integral to our growth and development as a college preparatory community whose values and actions encourage contributions toward the well-being of humanity – in this sense, too, we are a crossroads community.
Xavier Academy is a non-sectarian school that welcomes students, families, faculty, and staff of all religious faiths and those who do not profess a religious belief.
As a non-sectarian school, Xavier Academy does not sponsor, promote or favor any particular religion, but the Academy recognizes the importance of religious faith to many members of the school community. The comfort, strength, and guidance many derive from religious faith are significant, and religion plays an essential role in the moral development of many young people. In addition, Xavier Academy believes that its community is enriched by the contributions of individuals representing diverse views, religions, cultures, and ethnicities.
In recognition of the importance of religion to many members of our school community, Xavier Academy permits the exercise of religious expression outlined below in a manner that is consistent with the Academy’s standards of deportment, honorable and civil behavior, and the values Xavier Academy has identified as being central to the life and work of the Academy: Xavier Academy’s Core Values
- During free time during the school day and immediately before and after school, students may gather for prayer, the study of religious texts, or religious discussion. Students may not be led or accompanied in such gatherings by non-students, and they may neither proselytize other students to join in these gatherings nor exclude students who wish to participate. Students must obtain permission from the administration to post on-campus notices of such gatherings and to use school buildings for these gatherings.
- With the approval of the Headmaster, religious student organizations may use school facilities outside of the school day for meetings. Non-student members of such organizations may be present at the meetings but not on campus for any purpose associated with the organization during the school day or outside the approved meetings. Such groups must obtain approval from the Head of School for on-campus notices of these meetings. Members of these organizations may not proselytize on behalf of these groups on campus nor exclude students who wish to participate.
- Xavier Academy may allow nondenominational prayers or selected spiritual readings at baccalaureate ceremonies, graduations, and other school events where such prayers and readings are customary or otherwise appropriate.