Roncalli High School alum pens powerful “Open Message” to those seeking to fire gay teacher

Posted on: August 16, 2018, by :

To the Roncalli Administration, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, and to all those whom it may concern,

Our beloved alma mater is now becoming a national news story, but not for an All-Star softball team going to state or Brain Game going to the finals; instead, we are at the forefront of deciding how we, as the voices of the incumbent generation, are going to sail the ship that is the Catholic Church.

A Pew poll I saw amidst all of this is that of the general population: 85% of people are in support of same-sex marriage, and 67% of practicing Catholics. That being said, in addition to the outpouring of support following Ms. Fitzgerald’s place on leave, we are a firm majority. Therefore, we plan on sailing this ship the only way it is able to go: forward.

Unfortunately, it appears as though the diocese and administration plan to hold fast to their stance. Complacency and the fear of the unknown once again rearing it’s ugly head into the path of progress. Due to this, the respective donors and countless philanthropists, once devoted to this place, will begin showing their disappointment in the form of dollar signs. Individuals like myself, who largely benefited from the staff and education at Roncalli, will also show our disappointment by withholding future generations from such an institution. Prospective students, 13-14 year olds seeing the coverage of this, will request their parents to send them to public schools instead. For even the youngest of us, with the littlest experience with how the world truly works, knows an injustice when they see one.

But perhaps most unfortunately, Roncalli and the Catholic faith community will suffer. Even if Roncalli loses 100 students over the next four years, that is millions of dollars. Tuition will increase, teacher salary pay will decrease, and resources will dwindle. That is not the Roncalli I want to see simply as a result of the Archdiocese’ shortsightedness in maintaining such archaic clauses within its contracts to its constituents. An archaic clause that, to my understanding, begins with the legal phrase, “We reserve the right to…”, meaning only enforced as deemed necessary.
What deemed it necessary that you terminate an employee who has proven to be a valuable asset? The fact that Fitzgerald’s quiet, happy, and professional status was turned upside down by an anonymous whistleblower? Even if her marriage is in every opposition to Church teaching, I can’t help but wonder when that marriage certificate was presented, why was it not dismissed?

To Mr. Joe Hollowell if you are reading this, I implore you to answer my question. You had the opportunity to be a moment of change in this world. To say upon being handed that certificate, “What does this have to do with her ability to counsel?”. Instead you showed it to the world, affirming the most dangerous saying in the English language, “…Because we have always done it this way.” Sadly, this and the countless instances of homophobic rhetoric between you and your son, will be recorded in the dark annals of history just after the chapter on segregated water fountains.

I, as I am sure many of the alumni, plan to carry out the following actions:

1. Immediately withhold private donations to Roncalli High School.
2. Open conversations with Roncalli’s corporate sponsors about decreasing or eliminating donations.
3. Maintain a constant and open channel with the heads of the Archdiocese.
4. Alert any and all sources of media as we see fit.
5. If the situation goes unresolved, withhold our children from Roncalli.
6. If the situation continues to go unresolved, or if court rulings end up in the Church’s favor, we will:
A) Boycott all corporations donating to Roncalli and it’s affiliates.
😎 Stage peaceful protests at large events. (Homecoming, Senior Nights, Musicals)
C) Continue contacting national news outlets and reaching out to authorities directly in the Vatican.

My primary interest is, and will continue to be the well-being of the students at Roncalli. I firmly believe that by removing Shelly from her position that students will not only be deprived of a counselor, but of an advocate. There are LGBTQ students. In. Every. Class. What a beautiful and heartening thing it would have been to have an out faculty member to help these students through their very specific struggles. Instead I fear that the Church has told these students that an intrinsic, valid, and unchangable part of themselves might be why they get fired in 20 years.

Being a Rebel has been one of my most valuable achievements. The staff at Roncalli truly cares and there are countless teachers and counselors who have paved the way for all of us, academically, emotionally, and spiritually. Probably my favorite teacher was Mrs. Helbing, as I’m sure she is for many. I told her sophomore year I was having a lot of trouble just remembering things verbatim, like definitions and what have you. She told me to memorize something long and​ tedious, and that if I could remember that, I could memorize anything. How apt, what I chose, to be a rebel.

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Once a rebel, always a rebel.

Warmest of Regards,

Sarah Eastes

Class of 2014

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