By Nancy Price
A special task force consisting of Roncalli High School students, staff, alumni, parents and board members will be assigned this summer to help choose a new nickname for the school, according to Roncalli Interim President Father Robert Robeson.
The announcement on July 22 followed a decision for high school officials to remove the “Rebels” nickname, which has negative connotations attached to it and “are also a source of concern as we move forward over the next 50 years,” said Terese R. Carson, vice president for Institutional Advancement for Roncalli.
“We have had alumni and community members express concerns about how this nickname can be misunderstood, particularly as it relates to our deep commitment to honoring the dignity of every person, as Christ calls us to do,” Carson said.
The school’s nickname was inspired from Angelo Roncalli, St. John XXIII, “an amazing leader who called for the Second Vatican Council, despite objections from many church leaders who were satisfied with the status quo,” Robeson said. “Roncalli knew that the world was changing, and that the church, guided by the Holy Spirit, was called to adapt and to change as well.”
“As we’ve learned more and more about St. John XXIII, it’s clear that characterizing him as a rebel, in many ways, misses the mark,” added Roncalli Principal Chuck Weisenbach. “He was a saint who was deeply rooted in his love for Jesus Christ, his devotion to the Catholic faith and his respect for the dignity of all people.”
“Moving forward, for the next 50 years, we wish to embrace the spirit and the courage that St. John XXIII demonstrated when he called the Second Vatican Council by considering a new nickname for Roncalli High School,” Weisenbach continued. “A nickname that better reflects the character of our namesake. A nickname that will better honor Angelo Roncalli’s life and ministry by reflecting the Catholic faith and the commitment to Christ that characterized his life.”
Robeson acknowledged that there may be some community members saddened by the name change. “But, as we look forward to the next 50 years, we believe that this change is essential in order to better serve our mission as a Catholic high school, where we seek to advance the Gospel message of Jesus Christ and form young people to live their faith,” he said.
There are no details on when a new nickname is expected to be announced.