HARRISBURG (June 7, 2017) – Students from St. Agnes School in West Chester were treated to a special presentation of historic documents that laid the framework for Pennsylvania’s representative government thanks to state Senator Andy Dinniman.

Senator Dinniman talks with St. Agnes students and parents at the State Museum of Pennsylvania.

Dinniman arranged for the fourth-grade students to view and learn about what is known as “the Great Law of Pennsylvania” during their visit to the State Capitol and the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. The visit coincided with St. Agnes Parish celebrating the 225th anniversary of its founding next year (St. Agnes School is 145 years old).

The Great Law is a series of statutes enacted by Pennsylvania’s first legislature that met in Upland (now Chester) in December 1682. William Penn supervised their preparation and they reflect the Quaker belief in religious freedom by providing for freedom of worship. In fact, the first chapter of the Great Law clearly emphasizes that no one shall be “Compelled to frequent or Maintaine any Religious Worship or Ministry whatever.” Pennsylvania was the only large political unit in the western world to offer this degree of religious liberty.

“While the Penn Charter provided for the land, the Great Law established our system of government and freedom of religion,” Dinniman said. “This is the document from which the concept of religious liberty emanated as a fundamental part of our Commonwealth and ultimately our nation. So, I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to mark the birthday of one of the oldest parishes in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia than to invite students from St. Agnes to the Pennsylvania State Archives

St. Agnes fourth-grade students view the Penn Charter during their visit to the State Museum of Pennsylvania arranged by Senator Andy Dinniman.

to see it for themselves.”

St. Agnes students enjoyed a special presentation of the actual historical manuscript of the Great Law, which is usually kept in the archives for preservation purposes, by representatives from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

In addition, Dinniman offered the group of about 50 students a private, guided tour of the historic state capitol building that included visits to the Senate Chamber, and the Main Rotunda, as well as less- publicly accessible sites like the Senate Library and the Lt. Governor’s Office and Portico.

The students also had the opportunity to view the legislature in action from the Senate Gallery and see St. Agnes Pastor, Father Bill Donovan, give a special Senate invocation at the beginning of the session.

“St. Agnes has a long and rich history in our region and the students and young people I met with today will carry that on in their education, careers, faith, and service,” Dinniman said.

St. Agnes students, parents, teachers and Pastor Bill Donovan join Senator Dinniman on the Senate floor during their recent tour of the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.

 

 

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