Dear Sisters and Friends,
Since the closing celebration of the bicentennial, these weeks have been filled with expressions of gratitude from across the province and across the world. The family of the Sacred Heart has experienced deeply the cor unum that binds us together, whether in weekly emails, a common day of global service or a live-streamed closing liturgy with viewers in at least 27 countries.
I have been overwhelmed by the notes and emails I have received for my role in this great adventure. Thank you! But here’s the truth: literally hundreds of volunteers have shared in the planning and execution of the bicentennial these past four years.
The Province Bicentennial Committee started meeting in 2014. This committee vetted all 11 single-spaced pages of suggestions that were submitted – scores of ways to celebrate – and figured out how to incorporate most of the ideas into the final plans. Execution began. At one point, I counted 37 different committees for projects large (the Spirituality Forum, the Frontiers Conference, the closing celebration on November 18) and small (everything else!).
The most challenging work was the preparation of weekly entries for the Year of Prayer. Four regional editors identified 52 writers representing nearly all the countries where we serve. These editors solicited and modified short reflections and sent them to a final editorial committee, who amended their content, checked translation, and placed them across the year guided by the liturgical year and our own Society feasts and seasons. Individuals, too, worked hard to produce five books, the Year of Prayer journal, the bicentennial prayer, a tri-fold brochure, talks, lesson plans, a self-guided tour, the Echoes from the Rebecca video reflection, the banners of Sophie and Philippine, the design of a new vestment and even a jigsaw puzzle.
Our communications and technology staff provided continuous support, beginning with the broadcast of the Feast of the Sacred Heart liturgy for the USC Province in June 2017. They worked on weekly postings of the Year of Prayer in three languages, live-streaming the blessing of the new sculpture of Philippine and the talk by Cokie Roberts, keeping our website and social media current, and providing the constant daily attention to email requests for information and resources. They also thought up cool projects like Flat Philippine and nurtured major projects to conclusion, like the commissioning, execution and blessing of the new Philippine sculpture.
Meanwhile, the staff of the archives remained unfailingly generous in the near constant requests they received from us and from provinces far and wide for information, images, proofreading, and verification of historical accuracy. At the same time, the staff at the Shrine in St. Charles answered many of the same questions, hosted countless tours of the Shrine and conducted several pilgrimages to Sugar Creek.
Think of the number of translators involved (with special kudos to Cuca Maset of the Motherhouse Secretariat), the numbers of musicians who first worked with Michael Joncas and then produced a glorious new Mass, and the numbers of donors who came forward – often invited by Mission Advancement – to underwrite it all.
During this time, the Network of Sacred Heart Schools worked alongside us to make the bicentennial come alive in the schools. The creativity they nurtured has been amazing; their collaboration a delight – starting with a video of the bicentennial prayer recited, one line at a time, across the 24 Network schools.
Along the way, we made new friends. Robert Pearl, Sister Virginia Pearl, CSJ, and Janet Pearl, members of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, joined us for an early planning meeting, sharing their history and stories handed down to them about Philippine. Robert and Janet have attended many of our events. And 10 RSCJ, Associates and school staff joined them on their Trail of Death caravan in September 2018.
We also got to know some dedicated pilgrims, led by Ann Sieben, who walked on three 330-plus mile pilgrimages from Sugar Creek, Kansas, in honor of Philippine during the last two years.
The Provincial Team has been a huge support, acting as a sounding board in monthly meetings, sometimes gently curbing the enthusiasm of the Bicentennial Committee, but always acting to support the thrust of the work. And members of the Central Team were enthusiastic and completely supportive, by conference call and then in person, in the suggestion of speakers for the Frontiers Conference and financial support for international hospitality.
To all of these people who gave of their time and energy as the bicentennial unfolded, and to all of you who so enthusiastically embraced the many ways we celebrated Philippine, a heartfelt thank you.
May Philippine’s spirit remain strong and challenging as we cross the frontiers that beckon us into a third millennium.
Kathleen Hughes, RSCJ
Chair of the Province Bicentennial Committee