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North Catholic counselor no longer employed there after inviting Wiccans to class

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh recently issued an apology letter to students and families after the owners of the Sewickley-based Elemental Magick visited a class and gave students crystals. The woman who own the business are pictured above. Submitted Photo.

A counselor at North Catholic High School no longer has a job at the school after inviting the owners of a Wiccan-owned business to speak to a marketing class, according to the diocese.

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh recently issued an apology letter to students and families after the owners of the Sewickley-based Elemental Magick visited a class and gave students crystals.

The letter included instructions on how to dispose of the crystals and recommended they say the “Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel,” said Michelle Peduto, superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

“We asked that the crystals either be returned or removed from the home,” Peduto said.

She said the administration was unaware the counselor had invited Elemental Magick to the school.

“It was part of her job description to expose students to different businesses,” Peduto said. “It was one of several businesses that visited throughout the year.”

According to Peduto, students from the class later approached administrators about the crystals.

“Students in the class went, ‘Man, something isn’t right here,’” she said. “They let the administration know about these crystals, and we investigated the business further.”

Following the investigation, Peduto said that the counselor is no longer with the school.

“That part is considered a personnel matter,” Jennifer Antkowiak, a spokesperson for the diocese, said.

She said the counselor was not fired.

According to the owners of Elemental Magick though, the school invited the counselor to resign.

Tamara Latshaw, co-owner of Elemental Magic, said that the owners were not trying to push their beliefs on the class.

“We were not there to talk about our beliefs,” she said. “It’s been really blown out of proportion.”

Women in business

She said the presentation was on women in business.

Latshaw; her wife, Tabitha Latshaw; and her sister, Kari Latshaw, have owned Elemental Magick for seven years. The business sells metaphysical items, including candles, books, incense and crystals. The owners said they are practicing Wiccans, and witches.

“Wicca is an officially recognized religion in the United States,” Tamara Latshaw said. “As far as a deity, we believe in a duality — we worship a god and a goddess.”

According to Latshaw, the owners did not mention that they were Wiccan during the presentation. She was invited by the counselor, a friend and sorority sister from college, to share their experience as a women-owned business.

“We went into it with the best of intentions,” Latshaw said. “We weren’t there to convert anybody, just to talk about business.”

The owners of Elemental Magick opened their visit with an icebreaker activity.

“As an icebreaker, we brought in crystals,” Latshaw said.

They invited students to take one, and offered to explain the crystals’ metaphysical properties after the presentation.

“Everybody wanted to know what the properties were,” Latshaw said.

Conflicting beliefs

Applying metaphysical properties to the crystals did not align with the Diocese’s beliefs. Latshaw said that the owners of Elemental Magick were unaware of this.

“We don’t believe that objects have power; we believe in Jesus,” Peduto explained. “To assume objects have power is putting something in place of Jesus.”

The school’s investigation into Elemental Magick, set in motion by the crystals, concluded that the counselor’s choice of business was inappropriate.

“Their business is in the outside world,” Peduto said, “But it’s what happens in the schools that I have to worry about.”

Peduto said she believes that the issue represented a breakdown of protocol within the school.

“People are human,” she said. “And mistakes were made in protocol. We tried to approach the problem with love.”

She also praised the students for coming forward about the crystals.

“I am so proud of our students,” she said. “They demonstrated an ability to discern what is aligned with their faith and what isn’t.”

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