Imagine starting your school day off in a blazer, standing up in class with your classmates, and saying the Hail Mary. After praying, you can finally take off your jacket, and then it’s time for some light reading from a 14th-century English romance book, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. It sounds a little strange to me, but for the boys who attend the Heights School in Washington, D.C., this is a completely normal day.
The Heights School is a conservative private school for boys in grades 3-12 in the nation’s capital that is affiliated with Opus Dei, a sect of the Catholic Church. It was founded in 1969 and has quickly become very popular among conservative Catholics, like politician Rick Santorum, who sent two of his sons to the school.
“I’ve got just one job as a dad,” said Pat Kilner, a father of nine who has sent his four sons to the Heights School. “And that’s to get these kids, who are gifts to me, to heaven, so they can be in the eternal presence of the Lord. And none of my kids has left the church.”
Unlike at some other Catholic schools, the curriculum at the Heights School follows the pope’s messages on controversial topics like contraception and abortion to the letter.
Linda Maher is the school’s director of communications. She also sent her two sons to the school. Maher was shocked when she met another mother at a swim meet who gave her child condoms in his Christmas stocking.
“Talking with other mothers, we shared a hope our sons would remain chaste until marriage,” Maher said. “I found it comforting to find other mothers who shared that ideal, and who felt it was possible here, that it was hope that was supported here.”
As mentioned above, the Heights School is affiliated with Opus Dei. If you have read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, then you probably think of this religious group as being complete whack-jobs. However, the truth is that the group is made up of normal people who follow an intense daily prayer regimen but participate in normal, day-to-day life.
So are students who attend the Heights School expected to pledge a life of loyalty to Opus Dei? Not at all. In fact, only one student has joined the religious group and pledged lifelong celibacy, according to Father Gerald Kolf, the school’s chaplain.
“The thing that struck me is the normality of the place,” said John Allen, Jr., the author of Opus Dei, a book that offers a study of the religious group. However, there was not much political diversity among the students. “It was 2004, I was walking around the parking lot at the Heights and I counted bumper stickers: 53 Bush to 1 for Kerry.”
Well, what else should you expect from an extremely conservative school in Washington, D.C.?
Via The New York Times