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Diverse Religious Imagery A Central Theme Of Teaching At Salve Regina Catholic Academy In Brooklyn

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- November is Black Catholic History Month, and to celebrate a Catholic elementary and middle school in East Brooklyn is teaching students about representation through diverse religious images.

Students at Salve Regina Catholic Academy are learning they were all made in God's image through Catholic art work and symbols, CBS2's Natalie Duddridge reported Tuesday.

"My favorite part about this is the way they depict Jesus. His skin is darker and his hair is in locks," eighth grader Brennan Elder said of a painting of Jesus.

"The diversity that is reflected on these walls is important because it makes other people feel included in the Catholic faith," sixth grader Jameeah Lawal added.

The school decided to update its art after a student asked the pastor, Father Brendan Buckley, a thoughtful question.

"It was very simple. He just said, 'How come Jesus is always white?'" Buckley said.

Father Buckley said when they searched Jesus online, the images mostly came up as Caucasian depictions. He wanted to show them other representations.

"Historically, this country, the faith came over from Europe. People image Jesus the way they think of themselves, but you see it reflected very differently in other cultures all across the world," Buckley said.

The pictures in the halls now include various versions of Madonna and and her child, the last supper, and the life and resurrection of Jesus.

"That's probably my favorite piece out of the entire artwork," student Mikayla Randle said.

"You can see different ethnicities of people there. That's probably how it was before back then," seventh grader Michelle Ebesunun said.

The school hopes to continue to add diverse artwork so that every student is represented.

"Our school is very predominantly Black and Hispanic. We have some Asian, we have some white students, Caucasian students. And from there, we are hoping to fill up our walls with every ethnicity," said Michelle Donato, principal of Salve Regina Catholic.

Staff members say now their true Catholic identity is more in line through this universal art.

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