Archbishop Stepinac High School in New York Celebrates Croatian Cardinal

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Schools named after Cardinal Stepinac do not exist only in Croatia.

If you type in a web browser, you will see what is, at first glance, a typical webpage of a prestigious American high school with an address in White Plains near New York, reports Večernji List on December 28, 2016.

On the gray marble above the entrance it says “Archbishop Stepinac High School”, together with the bishop’s coat of arms of the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac. But, how did Cardinal Stepinac found himself in the middle of New York?

The story begins in 1948 when the school was founded. It was named after the Cardinal, thanks to then-Archbishop of New York Cardinal Francis Speelman. “The news of the death of Cardinal Stepinac was received with sadness. The American people recognize in him the spirit that has made our country great: a spirit that does not pay attention to the price which can never be too high when it comes to freedom. We are proud that the Archdiocese of New York has raised a living monument of Archbishop Stepinac, where young people are educated and taught to respect and elevate the principles for which this brave man lived and died”, said Cardinal Speelman later.

The Archbishop Stepinac High School was founded as a male high school for 1,360 students. Teachers were exclusively male, while the administration was entrusted to diocesan priests who were helped by monks and occasional laymen.

The school has remained a male high school with the same principles. It is impressive, with a variety of items which suggests that it has a long tradition and modern educational programme. More than ten thousand students graduated from the school. Many of them have succeeded in life and all of them are proud to point out in their CVs which secondary school they attended. Some of them are famous actors Jon Voight, Alan Alda and Erik Palladino. In 1994, the school established the Hall of Fame, and every year a few of the most deserving former students or employees receive their place of honour.

Ivan Meštrović is one of Croats who is associated with this prestigious institution. The famous sculptor made for the school busts of Stepinac and Spellman, but they have not been exhibited. Only their pictures are present.

This is how Stepinac’s name is alive today in the midst of New York State. Many Americans pronounce it without knowing who he was, but they educate themselves according to the same principles by which the Cardinal lived. “In te, Domine, speravi!” or “In thee, O Lord, I trust!” was his Episcopal motto. In this way, the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac influenced many generations of students in New York.


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