The president of Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien is taking a leave of absence until the end of the school year, school staff said Tuesday.
The leave of absence for president Mike Prato comes after more than a week of tension and protest following the forced resignation of two teachers who recently became engaged to their same-sex partners.
Archbishop Paul D. Etienne requested that Prato take the leave of absence and appointed Fr. Bryan Dolejsi, the former Kennedy chaplain who also worked at St. Benedict in Wallingford, as the interim president, effective immediately.
“Mike Prato is a highly respected leader, and it is our desire to support him during this challenging time,” the Seattle Archdiocese statement said. “Please continue praying for him, the faculty and staff, and the entire Kennedy Catholic community.”
In a letter to the Kennedy Catholic community, Archbishop Etienne said he visited the school last Friday and heard the frustration and confusion from teachers and staff.
“It is abundantly clear to me that our Catholic schools are serving a much broader community than in the past,” his Tuesday letter said. “We as church need to understand that people in our culture are coming to our Catholic schools with various expectations. However, we must remind everyone why Catholic schools exist. Our primary mission is to form people with the mind and heart of Jesus Christ.”
Etienne said he’s creating a special task force to look at how the Archdiocese applies universal church teaching locally.
“Specifically, under the leadership of the Office for Catholic Schools, this task force will examine how we remain faithful to our mission in a dramatically changing world,” his letter said. “We will review input from our school communities and create clarity and guidance moving forward. This will require time, and I ask for your patience as we prayerfully discern future steps. We will update you on the timeline and the process along the way.”
Etienne said he appointed Dolejsi in part to foster healing for the community and said Dolejsi would meet personally with community members.
“As a former pastor with a Catholic school, I fully understand the day-to-day challenges inherent in running a school,” Archbishop Etienne’s letter said. “For all the teachers and staff at Kennedy Catholic, I am grateful for the professional, courageous, and respectful way in which you have continued to fulfill your roles.”
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