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Bicentennial celebration comes to a close

  • Provincial Sheila Hammond leads RSCJ in the opening procession at the Bicentennial Closing Mass

Over 1,000 members of the Sacred Heart family, near and far, gathered at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis on the Feast Day of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne to celebrate the closing of the Province's bicentennial celebrations.

Members of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, along with 30 descendants of the Duchesne and Perier families, Network of the Sacred Heart educators and students, and RSCJ were recognized and honored in the opening procession, which illustrated the story and legacy of Philippine and the Society of the Sacred Heart in North America.

Not only was Philippine's arrival in 1818 the beginning of the Society in the New World, it also marked the Society's internationality. "The Society became an international order because of Philippine’s bravery in crossing frontiers and her determination to stay connected with the Motherhouse in France, despite the difficulties of distance, communication and governance," read Kathy Conan, RSCJ, in the call to worship. "In the 19th century, houses multiplied in the countries of Europe. Then followed foundations in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Most recently, the Society has taken root in Vietnam. We are now serving in more than 40 countries."

The entire Mass on November 18 was broadcast via live stream so that the Sacred Heart family around the globe could join in the closing celebration. Viewers tuned in from 27 countries total, from communities in Argentina to Uganda to Australia, affirming this truly was a worldwide celebration. Many around the world also celebrated Mass in honor of Philippine in the surrounding days.

The liturgy was celebrated by the Most Rev. Robert Carlson, archbishop of St. Louis, as well as featured the premiere celebration of the Mass in honor of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne composed by Michael Joncas for the occasion.

With 200 years now passed, the Society continues to look forward on the frontiers, keeping Philippine close in mind. Barbara Dawson, RSCJ, superior general of the Society of the Sacred Heart, writes, "The model of holiness Philippine Duchesne offers us, especially in the polarized world in which we live, is a renewed call to contemplation, action and prayer.

Contemplation of the frontiers that challenge us, to recognize our own biases and prejudices in light of the gospel, but also to discover how to free ourselves from the shackles that bind us and allow us to tolerate racism, injustices and exclusion of the “other”

Action, a call to not only acknowledge that something is amiss or mired in the cultural practice of the day, but to do something about that which we see

Prayer, turning to God, with the cry of lamentations to confront the sufferings of so many people in our world, yet with deep belief and hope in resurrection

Certainly these responses would be Philippine’s way, a step toward our own holiness in the 21st century."

Take a look back on all of the bicentennial celebrations from start to close in the video below.