Letter: Malden teacher fights for religious freedom

Editor’s note: Kathleen M. Sullivan is a teacher in the Malden public schools.

My faith has been tested this year by the untimely deaths of my mother and my brother. Yet what shook me to my core and pushed me to challenge a new policy was losing the right to practice my faith in an equitable manner.

Defending the right to practice my Catholic faith was not something I ever considered having to do, and it was not easy or comfortable to continue the battle each time the door closed. I am a person who prefers to live my faith quietly.

Despite the anxiety I felt about pushing this issue, I found the will and the confidence within me to pursue it. This plight to maintain my religious rights also forced me to become an instrument of my faith when it would have been easier to walk away feeling violated. I chose to stand up and question contract language which was hindering my rights as a citizen of these United States.


After six months of persistence and perseverance, the constitutional rights of my colleagues and I have been restored. I am pleased to report that we have regained the right to use a personal day to observe Good Friday.

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As the Lenten season approaches, I am thankful that I do not have to continue this battle of faith. Instead, 40 of my colleagues and myself are free to observe this solemn season of personal reflection.

Thank you to Mayor Christenson and the administration, who continued to keep the lines of communication open, and for working together with Deacon [Mark E.] Rumley [Immaculate Conception Parish] to get this issue resolved. Thank you to all who have supported this cause both publicly and privately.

I want each of you to know that I am grateful for your support of each individual’s right to practice faith, any faith.

This is a win for all faiths because it reinforces the inalienable rights we sometimes take for granted.


Kathleen M. Sullivan