Raising Boys

Chapel

At the spiritual center of the Cathedral School is the cultivation of a community where everyone belongs; where one’s heart, mind, and soul are nourished; and where each boy is known and loved. Like Episcopal schools around the world, guided by our School Chaplain, our non-dogmatic approach to faith is anchored in love, goodness, and justice — finding expression chiefly through our chapel program, the religion curriculum, the service-learning program, and the close partnership between the chaplaincy and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program. 
Gathering for worship in Chapel is essential to what it means to be a member of Cathedral School for Boys. An alternative to the busyness and distractions of contemporary life, Chapel is a time to gather for music, prayer, story, silence, and reflection. Chapel creates and sustains our school culture by advancing the dignity of each person and promoting a genuine sense of belonging. Its sacred purpose connects us to the awe, beauty, and mystery of the divine. Even for those who are agnostic or atheists, Chapel is a place of celebration at times of joy, a place for reflection and dialogue in times of difficulty, and the first place we turn to in times of grief or crisis. Chapel services provide us with a common platform, a common language, and a common expression of who we are.

Our Chapel program celebrates feasts, holy days, and persons found both within Christianity and among the world’s faiths. Chapel takes many forms, from the liturgy of the Holy Eucharist to celebratory gatherings steeped in school tradition and less formal gatherings of song, story, and prayer. We celebrate our choristers’ participation in the renowned Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, and joining together in a weekly all-school Hymn Sing is an especially important dimension to Chapel. Regardless of form, however, our chapel services are held within Grace Cathedral and grounded in the rich, liturgical life and practices of the Episcopal Church. Chapel explores particular traditions and universal values, celebrates our differences and our commonalities, and deepens our understanding of ourselves, one another, and God.

Religion at Cathedral

In Episcopal schools, the study of religion is considered part of what it means to be an educated, culturally literate person. The Bible has a central place in the religious studies curriculum, not as indoctrination but as an invitation and as serious, scholarly study. Knowledge of biblical subjects provides powerful roots for understanding art, music, literature, and history.

An understanding of the traditions of the world’s great religions is also part of a quality education. Responsible global citizenship requires an understanding of the many modes of religious expression in the world today and an appreciation of the many ways religion impacts the shape of world events, cultural attitudes, individual beliefs and practices, and religious conflict or cooperation.

The study of religion also incorporates an academic discussion of philosophy and ethics, including an opportunity for students to examine ethical situations and think through their practical implications. By exploring ethical and philosophical issues, our boys begin to critically evaluate their own beliefs and biases, learn from the perspectives and experiences of others, and grapple with complexity in an age-appropriate way.

We do not ask people to leave their religious identities and spiritual questions outside the schoolhouse. Rather, we embrace the study of religion as a way to deepen an understanding of self and others, one that offers all students the opportunity to explore ultimate questions of God, faith, and meaning.

A Cathedral School

Cathedral School for Boys is located on the campus of Grace Cathedral, a flagship Episcopal church designed to be "a house of prayer for all people." We are intentionally an Episcopal school with a pluralistic community. There is a common conviction on campus that we cannot experience joy or reach the truth apart from diversity—it’s not extra; it’s essential to our humanity. 

The Episcopal Church is a unique branch of Christianity and its schools provide an education that is inclusive of all people, all faiths, and all questions. To be an Episcopal school means not only expecting our boys to ask the great religious and moral questions of our time, but it also means sharing how the Episcopal tradition -- past and present -- provides unique answers to those great questions. The pluralistic approach of exploring uniquely Episcopal answers alongside the unique answers of neighboring spiritual traditions makes for a healthier, more openhearted, and global education. Our hope is that each boy graduates with a stronger understanding of, and appreciation for, the value of life-giving faith traditions and religious practices.

(Click here to learn about the defining qualities of the Episcopal tradition.)

Chapel Services

Monday: All-School Chapel
Each Monday the entire school gathers to sing and listen to special speakers. This is when the eighth graders also give their Chapel Talks. The talks are set to a theme.
 
Tuesday: Lower School Chapel
On Tuesdays, the Lower School gathers for a Lower School Chapel with songs and spiritual talks that are age-appropriate for our younger boys. Each week we also include a special “Birthday Blessing” for the boys with a birthday that week. 

Wednesday: Upper School Chapel
On Wednesday, the Upper School gathers for Upper School Chapel, which is discussion-based and led by the “Chapel Squad,” a team of seventh- and eighth-grade students. We further the theme from Monday’s service, and allow boys to delve deeper into what the theme means in their lives. Once a month, instead of the regular Upper School Chapel, we celebrate the Holy Eucharist which is open to any boys who wish to partake in it.
 
Friday: All-School Hymn Sing
The beloved Hymn Sing is every Friday. We sing hymns selected by the boys, as well as hear an anthem from the Choristers. This is also the time when, if there have been any prayer requests made by a member of the community, the chaplain will offer special prayers at the end of the service. 
 

*Please note that Chapel is currently being held in the Nave of the Cathedral. For the 2021-22 school year, community members are invited to join us for Friday Hymn Sings; please gather in the Plaza and enter through the AIDS Memorial Chapel doors in the North Bell Tower. Proof of vaccination is required to enter.

Special Services

Opening Chapel
At Cathedral School for Boys, we begin and end the school year in prayer. On our first day of school, we have a chapel service to celebrate that we’ve come together for the new school year, and to ask for God to bless the year ahead. We invite and encourage family and friends of the boys to join us for this wonderful start to the new school year!

Blessing of the Animals
In honor of our city’s patron saint, Saint Francis, who loved animals dearly, we come together on the first Monday of October to bless the animals in our lives. Families are invited to bring their real or stuffed animals to be blessed by the chaplain and clergy of Grace Cathedral.  

Grandparents & Special Friends Service
Typically held the day before the Thanksgiving Break, this beloved service is an opportunity to invite close relatives and family friends to participate in an all-school service. This service combines the theme of “giving thanks” (in honor of Thanksgiving) and “serving others” (in honor of our Day of Service the day prior), as well as performances by the boys.

Festival of Lessons & Carols 
One of Cathedral's most cherished traditions is the annual Lessons & Carols service. Held on the last day of classes before Winter Break, the entire school community gathers in Grace Cathedral to sing carols and hymns, hear lessons from the Gospels, and share prayers and blessings for the holiday season. The service ends with a rousing all-school rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

Graduation
As the year comes to a close, it is a good time to pause and reflect upon the many blessings within our community. In particular, upon the blessing of those in the graduating class. We honor them, and all our blessings, through this celebration and hope for what comes next.  All are welcome! 
 

Cathedral School for Boys

Located in San Francisco, CA, Cathedral School for Boys is an independent elementary school for boys in grades K-8. Our Mission is to provide an excellent education through intellectual inquiry and rigor that is centered in the Episcopal tradition and is respectful of and welcoming to people of all religious traditions and beliefs.
1275 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94108   •   Phone: 415.771.6600   •   Fax: 415.771.2547