By Jayne Collins, head of the Upper School
The Bicentennial St. Philippine Duchesne Prayer Service took place on November 17. The entire school community gathered to celebrate the life of St. Philippine and to honor the Religious of the Sacred Heart in the Fairchester community, Sr. Imma De Stefanis, Sr. Reyna Gonzalez, Sr. Paula Gruner, Sr. Joan Magnetti, Sr. Margo Morris, Sr. Sherry Smith, St. Margie Strom, and Sr. Rosemary Sheehan, who entered into eternal life last June, was with us in spirit.
Our guest speaker was Sr. Maureen Glavin, former head of the Academy of the Sacred Heart, in St. Charles, Missouri, which is the oldest Network school, founded in 1818 by St. Philippine. Sr. Glavin filled us with wonder as she told beautiful stories of St. Philippine and gave us memorable words that St. Philippine lived by:
“Anyone who discovers God within themselves will live with more courage. Anyone who discovers God among themselves will live with more compassion. Anyone who discovers God around themselves will live with more curiosity.”
St. Philippine is a beautiful example of a woman “filled with the Spirit of Adventure.” Her stories, her words, and her actions have inspired, motivated and impelled young women to action for 200 years. Through her example, our students have learned, lived and committed themselves to carry forth her courage, humility, idealism, determination, strength of character, and intense love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Perhaps, the most moving part of this memorable prayer service was the commissioning of our community “to develop a contemplative outlook and to expand the boundaries of our hearts.” The Arts Department in all three divisions made more than 1,400 ceramic pendants in the shape of an acorn - the symbol of the strength and endurance of St. Philippine, who like an oak tree opened herself to the possibilities of God’s love.
In a beautiful ceremony the RSCJs blessed the pendants, placed them on each other, on Mrs. Hayes, and the seniors who are Eucharistic Ministers saying, “May Philippine help you to expand the boundaries of your heart.” Then, the Eucharistic Ministers gave pendants to all the students, faculty, staff, and visitors, repeating the words of commissioning.
Marian Sofia Campana, director of campus ministry and co-chair Formation to Mission, Lower School theology teacher, and social justice and service coordinator reminded us of the RSCJ’s international assembly in 2016 which called for us to live the mission of a Sacred Heart education through the Four Chapter Calls:
- To “set sail and reach new frontiers”
- To “live in a more human way”
- To “embrace silence”
- To “be and to act as one body.”
The lyrics composed by Art Department Chair Eva Carrasquero for her song, “The Woman who Prays Always,” framed the beginning and end of the prayer service. Who better than St. Philippine to be our guide and mentor as we foster a “spirit of adventure” that commits to Goal 3, “a social awareness that impels to action!”