With these rings….

Last week, members of the Junior Class at Sacred Heart received their ASH school ring from members of the Senior class. This special ceremony takes place in the context of a Eucharistic celebration, followed by a traditional ritual that includes hugs, flowers, and lots of smiling friends and families. Did I mention refreshments?

What follows in this post are my comments following this endearing ceremony:

Some people might wonder why we have a Sacred Heart ring, or why is it so important to have a “ring ceremony” like this one. They might think “…after all, it is just a ring!” Or, “Oh, it’s not a big deal, it’s just another piece of jewelry” or “Oh, (smiling) this is just another tradition at my school.”

But, that view is probably not shared by most of us who will wear rings throughout our lives for many reasons. But, why do we do that?

I know that many people from J.R. Tolkien to the writers of the Bible have reflected on the meaning of rings, but, for me, rings are reminders—reminders to what I commit in my life and of what really matters.

Looking at my vow ring on my left-hand finger this evening, I am reminded of who I am as a Sacred Heart Sister, an RSCJ. Not only a reminder to me, my ring speaks–without words–to others of my state in life, even to strangers who notice it.

For you, Seniors, your Sacred Heart rings will do that for you as you leave your school in a couple of months. Others will notice your ring and, perhaps even recognize you as a Sacred Heart graduate because our rings across the Network of Sacred Heart Schools are similar. I hope that your ring will remind you about the things that have been important during your years at this school.

When I wear my Sacred Heart ring, I am reminded of my parents who sacrificed to send me and my sisters to this school—sacrificed by getting up each morning and bringing 6 girls here for 14 years each—a total of 84 years at this school. I reminded of my Mother who would stop by this very chapel on so many of those mornings to kneel and pray in front of this statue of Mary, the Mother of Jesus.  I am reminded of my best friend who now has cancer, and of how we have journeyed through so many things together all these years. I am reminded of my teachers, and of the religious sisters who planted a seed in my heart which became later a call to religious life.

Family. Friends. Sisters. The Community of the Sacred Heart: My ring is, yes, for me, far more than jewelry!

To the class of 2016-2017, I hope that these Sacred Heart rings come to mean these things for you, too! Wear your rings with joy, with pride, with memories, and as reminders of who you are as a “child of the Sacred Heart.” May God bless you on your journey!

Lent and the Blooming Azaleas

The courts of Rex and Comus have met. The Fathers’ Club has sold its last hot dog from the ASH trailer. The flags of royalty have been lowered. Yes, the cacophony of marching, music, and Mardi Gras mayhem has ended for another year. With its ending, many of us have segued into the season of Lent signed with ashes across our foreheads.

Beginning late this year, this solemn season coincided with the blossoming of beautiful pink azaleas stretching across the front of the Rosary Campus, a full block along St. Charles Avenue. The appearance of iconic azaleas for New Orleaneans signals the end of winters-that-never-were and the beginning of spring, a time for Easter beach breaks, but usually not Lent.

Not long ago, I discovered that these beautiful azalea plants were a gift to the Sacred Heart community from a Sacred Heart family, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Boh. Still blooming after over 50 years, these amazing durable azalea plants remind me of the constant fidelity of God and of the true gift that each person is to our school community. Could they have possibly imagined that their gift would be so lasting? So productive? So bountiful?

In a letter this Lent, Pope Francis encourages us to regard each person as a precious gift from God and through this practice, to renew our encounter with Him. Reflecting on this teaching, I realize how many portals there are each day for drawing closer to the mystery of God’s immanent presence: the portal of “beauty and blossoms,” the portal of “silence and sitting,” the portal of emptying out “cups and closets,” the portal of “giving oneself in service,” and the portal of “listening and learning.” These are some of my portals for Lent – pathways into Jesus’ heart for conversion. How would you name your portals for encountering the Lord this Lent?

On Saturday, April 15th, the season of Lent will end. In our school community, we will welcome another break for Easter. Bracketed by a period of only six weeks, it is most important to welcome into our hearts the opportunity presented by this short time – regardless of our position and role in the school – for the deepening of our “…faith in God” (Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education, Goal 1) and for “the building of community as a Christian value.” (Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education, Goal 4). I hope that you can visit our ASH website for some resources on your Lenten journey.http://www.ashrosary.org/

On so many mornings while walking through the front gates of our school, I find a prayer of thanksgiving emerging within me – one that gives a silent “shout out” to God for this mission of education, for the students at Sacred Heart and their families, for the faculty and staff, and for the gift of being called to its continuation. Thinking of all of  our Sacred Heart community, I easily stride forward in faith, grateful to each one for being part of this phenomenal mystery and for your personal gift to this community of the Sacred Heart.

With prayer, I hope that your Lent be truly blessed with gift and grace.

Note to the reader of this blog:  This is a slightly edited version of a letter written to the ASH community at the beginning of Lent. Thank you for all of your kind words of support, readers!

Our mission of Catholic education

This week, we celebrate Catholic School Week throughout the country. As educators in a Catholic school, this time provides a perfect opportunity to examine our own commitment to the mission of Catholic education as uniquely expressed through the charism of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart.

St. Madeleine Sophie was blessed with a vision of education as a powerful, transformative and essential force for good in society. Touched by Jesus’ open heart, she saw that education was a pathway for conversion, liberation and reformation.

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Educators in schools of the Sacred Heart share a deep-rooted conviction in the religious and educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart, and we are united in that mission across the globe. Such a gift cannot be taken for granted, nor can it be taken lightly. As Scripture says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).762ca22871cd05057df0c850784c9ee8

Each person in a Sacred Heart school takes up a role of stewardship each day, and each one enacts the mission in a unique way. As a “ministry,” our work is both a gift and a responsibility. Our intention to continue in this great work of education at Sacred Heart should be a free, honest and deep commitment to live out the Goals and Criteria each day at our very best–not in mediocrity, but at our very best; not for ourselves, but for the Lord.

Joys of Christmas

Sometimes, it is easy to romanticize Christmas. After all, there are so many experiences during this time of the year that help us relish the joy of Christmas. There are the many fragrances of Christmas in the pine cones, the smell of the tree, and the wonderful fragrances of baked Christmas cookies. There is the joy of singing in Christmas concerts and in caroling. 387-fullThere is the joy of decorating our homes with red poinsettia plants and white twinkly lights. There is the joy of being together with our brothers and sisters who come home from college, and with friends coming from all over the country to visit and be together. All of these joys truly are part of the Christmas blessing.

As Christians, we also celebrate other joys of Christmas: the joy of coming together as a liturgical community, the joy of sharing a Eucharistic meal, the joy of innocence and children, the joy of hope-filled Scripture readings, and the joy of giving and sharing with others.4_pics_-_lh_christmas_program_2016

In these acts, we celebrate the realization that our joys are not complete when others suffer, if others are alone, or if others are feeling hunger or hurt. The season expresses our longing for God’s kingdom to come, and our hope that Jesus really is coming into the world again, over and over, and in always new ways. What a wonderful joy to celebrate!

I hope that each readersof this blog finds some time during the season of Christmas to discover the gift of Jesus’ coming into your life again and again, over and over, and in ever-new ways.

Have a joy-filled Christmas!