"Our service of education and instruction is directed chiefly towards the young and those who bear within them the future of the world." — Constitutions of the Society of the Sacred Heart, par. 7
The sentence from our Constitutions cited above has taken on new meaning for me. In November I attended our international Assembly of Provincials in Uganda, where representatives of the Society’s forty-four countries met to talk about issues related to the Society’s future.
“Home” and “homelessness” have been themes running through my mind and heart in recent months. Just a year ago, hurricanes Katrina and Rita forced thousands of people to leave their homes. These same storms dislodged many others from familiar patterns as they opened their houses and their hearts to the evacuees. As the months have gone on, we have heard stories of people and communities rebuilding their homes and their lives. During this same year, our elder sisters at Kenwood in Albany, New York, have begun creating a new home at Teresian House, a few miles away.
This issue of Heart arrives during the Easter season. We most often experience Easter as the culmination of the journey of Lent, the unexpected burst of new life in the
Written by Mary McGann, RSCJ, Ph.D., currently assistant professor of liturgy and music at the Franciscan School of Theology/Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. © 2004
Since the last days of August, our minds and hearts have been filled with images of New Orleans – a city ravaged by wind and water, a people devastated by the loss of family and friends, of homes and jobs, of their very way of life.
Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat had a great desire for her sisters and for all who would call themselves part of the family of the Sacred Heart. Generosity, she said, should characterize our lives – great-heartedness, a way of living with open hands, a lavish way of being with others in freedom of thought and expression, in giving of self and our personal gifts, in spreading love and joy without self-interest.
The e-mails and phone calls started well before the full scope of the tragedy was known. Had we heard from the Religious of the Sacred Heart in Jakarta? Were they caught up in the devastation? What of their families and friends? Was there any word from India? Were our sisters safe? Of the twelve countries devastated by the tsunami, the Society of the Sacred Heart calls two of them home.
We are poised between two seasons as I write these lines, the season of the 2004 elections, now mercifully behind us, and the days of Advent that lie ahead. I find such a tension in the two...
There we were, nearly one hundred Religious of the Sacred Heart from all over the world, gathered in a General Chapter in the year 2000 – gathered in Amiens, the birth place of the Society in its bicentennial year, and faced with a reality virtually without precedent in the Society's history: We admitted we could not find the right words to give fresh expression to our spirituality.
It began with an embrace after the exclamation of wonder and “How could this be?” When women meet there is always a wonder of how could this be? How had you the time?