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Friday, August 23, 2013

"Everybody Matters" by Sacred Heart Alumna Mary Robinson

Meet the Author: Mary Robinson

Born in Ballina, County Mayo in 1944, Mary Therese Bourke Robinson was a 1962 graduate of Mount Anville Secondary School in Dublin.  Her parents Aubrey Bourke and Tessa O'Donnell were both medical doctors and of their five children Mary was their only girl!

After graduation from Mount Anville, Mary considered becoming a nun as a means of making an impact in this world. This decision may have been prompted by the fact that Mary had a couple of Aunts that had entered religious life and she saw them as well respected with interesting careers in education.  In fact Mary's Aunt, Sr. Ivy Bourke, RSCJ was one of three pioneer religious to open the Sophia High School in Bangalore, India in 1948. However, the Reverend Mother at Mount Anville advised Mary to take a year to think about what she wanted to do and so she went to Paris. Later Mary studied law at Trinity College in Dublin and Harvard Law School.  

In 1990, Mary Robinson became the seventh and first woman President of Ireland.  On September 12, 1997, Mary Robinson having resigned as President of Ireland a few weeks earlier became the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a post she held until 2002.

In July 2009, Mary Robinson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, she joins fellow Sacred Heart alums: Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Jean Kennedy Smith, and Helen Hayes.

Currently Mary is serving as President and Chair of the Board of Trustees for Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice.

Overview of the book: "Told with the same calm conviction and modest pride that has guided her life, Everybody Matters will instill anyone who reads it with the belief that each of us can, in our own way, help to change the world for the better."

Click here to view the BBC interview Meet The Author: Mary Robinson.  To order a copy of her book click on the link to the right of this blog under Sacred Heart Alum Authors.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Sacred Heart Alumna, Mary Foster Celebrates 100 years!

Mary Catherine Schmitz Foster, HI '31 attending the annual Sacred Heart Reunion in 2005

August 20, 2013 is a special day for Sacred Heart alumna Mary Catherine Schmitz Foster. Mary is celebrating her 100th birthday!  I had the pleasure of meeting Mary at the Convent of the Sacred Heart (St. Joseph, MO) annual reunion.  The school known to most as "Hilltop" closed in 1960 but the spirit of the alums is very strong.  Every year on or around the Feast of Mater (October 20th) the girls from the "Hilltop" gather together for lunch and mass.  I have had the pleasure of attending a few of the luncheons and still enjoy hearing from and seeing alums from the Hilltop.  Thanks to Joyce Sherman Comfort, HI'48 for keeping us in the know on this newsworthy event in Mary's life! To view more photos taken at the 2005 Reunion just click on the photo to the right of the blog or click here to view.

This past Sunday, the News-Press featured a story about Mary turning 100 and how she would celebrate her special day!  Click here to read the news article.  

Mary, may you have a very happy 100th birthday celebration with your family and friends!  

Monday, August 19, 2013

"As for you, eat and sleep well for the love of Jesus"... St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

Statue located at Sacred Heart Schools Atherton
"As for you, eat and sleep well for the love of Jesus.  You have heavy responsibilities and for this you need spiritual and physical strength."

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

The above quote was taken from The Wisdom of Madeleine Sophie Barat - Day by Day Calendar.  To order a copy of the calendar (Cost: $10.00 + postage) - click here

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Prayers for Sacre-Coeur Ghamra and all of Egypt

Seven sisters of four different nationalities arrived in Egypt in November 1903
and welcomed their first student on March 1, 1904. Their inspiration: the intuition
of a great educator: St. Madeleine Sophie Barat. From 1904 to the present day,
in spite of all the difficulties due to political unrest and to the constraints
of educational policies, “Sacré-Coeur Ghamra” pursued its
mission, true to its educational goals. 

The following message is from Kathleen Conan, RSCJ, Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart regarding our Sacred Heart family in Egypt.

"I have been in communication with Magda Khalifa, the provincial of Egypt, and want to share with you the situation of our sisters there.  All of our sisters are safe.  The community of Ghamra in Cairo has gone to the community in Heliopolis as there are demonstrations and movement in the streets near Ghamra and it is safer that the sisters be in Heliopolis.  In the other places where we are, we are also safe although there is fear, as churches, schools and dispensaries near where we are in Abou-Korkas andBayadeya have been attacked and burned.  Three sisters are at a house by the sea as it is summer, and will not be able to return until it is safer.   
At the same time we understand that 63 Christian churches have been burned and that the schools, dispensaries and service centers of several religious congregations have been attacked and burned.  The ones we are aware of are of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the Franciscans, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon and the Jesuits. The sisters and others were told to leave, and then the buildings were burned.  We are grateful that the people are safe.  At one church near Bayadeya, our sisters talked with a priest who said that the neighbors – Muslim and Christian – protected the priests so that they would not be killed.  Surely there are other such situations of mutual help and protection. 
 Let us pray for our sisters in Egypt, for their safety, their courage, their efforts to live this difficult time in a non-violent way that will help build peace in the country.  With them, we pray for the whole people of Egypt, for safety and peace."
From Superior General Kathleen Conan, RSCJ
 (August 17, 2013) 

Friday, August 16, 2013

A poem by Anna Mae Marheineke, RSCJ (1917-2013)

Anna Mae Marheineke, RSCJ

Anna Mae Marheineke, RSCJ died peacefully on August 14, 2013 at the Society of the Sacred Heart retirement community (Oakwood) in Atherton, California.  She was born in Missouri on December 27, 1917 to Joseph and Genevieve Kaemmerien Marheineke.  Anna Mae was the oldest of her seven siblings: Kathleen, June, Joseph, Genevieve, John, Mary and James.  All the Marheineke girls would attend the Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles.   Anna Mae entered the Novitiate in Kenwood (Albany, N.Y.) and made her first profession of vows in 1944.  To read her obit and further details on Anna Mae's incredible life go to

Tota Pulchra Es
Like a Rose Plant in Jericho,
  fragrantly fair
and sweet beyond power of telling,
as thy heart, dearest Mother,
where a love song of prayer
in praise of thy wee Son is welling.
Like a Palm Tree in Cades
  brushing the blue,
serene in the silence of morning,
is the peace in thy smile
the long Nazareth days through,
Thy joy their bright hours adorning.
Like a Cypress on Sion,
  steadfast and still,
Thy courage and calm we would borrow;
for Thy love, Queen of Martyrs,
has been oned with God'd will,
made strong with a strength born of sorrow.
From The Collected Poems of Anna Mae Marheineke, RSCJ

Note:  If you wish to purchase a copy of Sr. Marheineke's collection of poems look under the heading on the right "Books by Sacred Heart Alum Authors" and click on the link to her book.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin

Feast of the Assumption

Thursday, August 15 ~  Today we celebrate one of the greatest of all the Marian feasts and a holy day of obligation, the feast of the Assumption.  Sharing with you a favorite prayer that I found in the book: SPECIAL DEVOTIONS compiled for Children of the Sacred Heart - Revised Edition 1956
Feast, August 15th

Sovereign Ruler of Heaven and earth, Who didst subvert the laws of nature, in becoming the Son of the ever blessed Virgin Mary, we adore Thy infinite power, wisdom, and bounty. We return Thee thanks for having preserved the soul of Mary from original and actual sin; for having enriched her with Thy gifts, and preserved her virginal body from the corruption of the tomb.  Forever blessed be the moment  which Thou wert pleased to reunite her most pure body to her happy soul, and receive them into immortal glory!

O compassionate Mother, be our advocate with the Adorable Trinity. Behold our combats, obtain for us the conquest of our enemies, grace to avoid sin, hearts detached from earthly affections, and the possession of a blessed eternity. Amen.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

AASH 2013 National Directory Arrived Today!!

It finally has arrived!! The 2013 AASH National Directory arrived in today's mail!  If you have yet to receive your copy or wish to purchase a copy (a few extra books were printed) please, contact the AASH National Office either via email: or via phone: 314-569-3948 or 888--622-7421.  Be sure to go online and update your info so we can stay connected!  Wishing all alums a very healthy and relaxing summer!  

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bertha Honore Palmer ..."A Social Awareness Which Impels to Action"

Bertha Honore Palmer

This evening I enjoyed watching Love Under Fire: the Story of Bertha and Potter Palmer.  Known in the 19th century as the "Princess of the Prairie", Bertha Matilde Honore was born on May 22, 1849 in Kentucky to Eliza Dorsey Carr and Henri Hamilton Honore. As a young girl she was called Cissie.  Her parents moved from Louisville, Kentucky to Chicago in 1855 where her father made his fortune in real estate.  

Potter Palmer was invited to the home of his business associate Henri Honore for dinner one evening and met Bertha who was 13 years of age at the time. By all accounts Palmer was smitten with the attractive and intelligent young lady. It was also around this same time period that Bertha was sent to the Convent of the Sacred Heart located on West Taylor Street in Chicago,  Although the school had only opened in 1858 the Madames of the Sacred Heart were well know for providing a good education. 

Potter Palmer was know as the most eligible bachelor in Chicago at the time however, he patiently waited until Bertha had turned 21 before he began to court her.  The two were soon married in Bertha's family home on Michigan Avenue, she was 21 and Palmer 44.  

Shortly after their marriage the great Chicago Fire destroyed most of the city including the newly constructed Palmer House Hotel which was Bertha's wedding present.   Palmer got a loan and rebuilt the hotel to an even grander scale than before.  

In 1891 Bertha was appointed as President of the Board of Lady Managers for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. She was also an early member of the Chicago Woman's Club. Bertha traveled throughout Europe (note passport application below) and her extensive art collection was donated after her death to the Art Institute of Chicago

Major General Frederick Dent Grant and his wife Ida Marie Honore Grant
(Bertha's sister)

While searching I discovered that Bertha's sister Ida Marie had married Frederick Dent Grant the eldest son of President Ulysses S. Grant and it was this brother-in-law that signed Bertha's passport application (below).

Bertha's brother-in-law (F. D. Grant) certified that the information
on her passport application was correct (dated July 22, 1889)

Courting Bertha, a feature film based on the early romance of Bertha and Potter Palmer through the devastation of The Great Chicago Fire is currently in development.  For more info click here.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

We Are Praying Our Gratitude....

Artwork by a Sacred Heart student at Villa Duchesne/Oak Hill School

Today while cleaning out a drawer I came across a beautiful laminated prayer card that I received from the Kenwood Community in 2002.

We are praying our gratitude....

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the Fire of your Divine Love.  Send forth your Holy Spirit that our hearts may be renewed and you shall renew the face of the earth. 

Let Us Pray 
O God, who had taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that we may be the gift of the same Spirit, be always truly wise, and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Friday, August 2, 2013

From the Society of the Sacred Heart - First Friday Reflection

Friday, August 2, 2013 ~  Today I'm sharing the First Friday reflection received via email from the Society of the Sacred Heart.  For more info or to receive a direct email - click here.

Annett Hanrahan, RSCJ, from the Province of Australia/New Zealand, offers us insight into the rich diversity of expression of Sacred Heart spirituality across cultures. Her words and her painting are below.

I live in the South Pacific, in New Zealand, which is a multi-cultural country, including Maori, Polynesian, Pakeha, and peoples from all parts of Asia. I could not find any images that spoke to me or to any of us of a powerful, loving God, with an all-embracing, all-forgiving love that we as human beings can open to and understand in our very humanness. I wanted to probe the incarnational reality of God in Christ and in all of creation in a language that might have some meaning in my world. 

So, Christ is seated in a posture similar to the prayer posture of many in the east, and of the Polynesian peoples of the Pacific. His features have a Polynesian quality. He is holding his cross, which is transparent, for it is part of, and dialogues with, the earth, but Christ has moved beyond it. Christ’s eyes are closed as he is one with His Father, and in that deep communication, he is a powerful and strong channel, river even, of the flow of the love of God to slake our thirst. It has become a very meaningful image of Christ for the students at Baradene, the Sacred Heart School in Auckland, who see in it a strong ecological meaning for our time and call it our “Cosmic Christ.”

Words and image, Annett Hanrahan, RSCJ

Thursday, August 1, 2013

An Evening of Gratitude - Joan Lueder Coffey Service Award Announced

May 8, 2013 Chicago IVC Evening of Gratitude - more photos here
Left to right: Fr. Brian Paulson, SJ; MER, Sheila Smith, Chair BEF;
Christine Curran, IVC; Ed Coffey and George Sullivan

The night was billed as "An Evening of Gratitude" and the Chicago Ignatian Volunteer Corps hosted their annual Mass and Awards program followed by a reception at the Ignatius House Jesuit Community.  This would also be the evening when the Joan Lueder Coffey Service Award was publicly announced in the beautiful Madonna Della Strada Chapel at Loyola University-Lakeshore Campus on May 8. A number of Sacred Heart alums attended the event.  Click here to read my blog entry dated May 6th for further details on the award.
The following remarks were made by Joan’s husband Ed Coffey on May 8th.
Good evening.  It is wonderful to be back in Chicago, and I am honored to be  sharing this event with the IVC, their dedicated volunteers, and all of you.  I am also very pleased to be joining the Barat Education Foundation and the Alumni Association of the Sacred Heart in establishing the Joan Lueder Coffey Service Award to support and advance the mission of the IVC. I am inspired by the profiles that I have read of each of the recipients of the awards to be presented this evening, and the extraordinary work they have and continue to undertake in service to their communities and the good people that they support on a continuing basis.  I hope that the addition of this service award memorializing Joan, a woman who devoted her entire adult life to educating and inspiring others to learn and then serve the needs of their students, families, and the community at large will help to further advance the IVC to serve, educate, improve and inspire those most in need in the Chicago area. 

Both Joan and I have family roots on the North Side of Chicago, she in Transfiguration Parish where her family lived when Joan was born, and my parents’ families in St. Jerome, St. Margaret Mary, and St. Henry.  My brother and I both graduated from St. George in Evanston, and my sister Ann Murray, a Catholic school educator in the Chicago Archdiocese for 40 years recently retired, closing out her service at Queen of All Saints. 

When my beloved Joan died in the summer of 2003, the university newspaper at Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas, north of Houston, where she had been a member of the History Department faculty for 13 years, announced her death in an article headlined “Inspirational History Professor Dies after Eight-year Battle with Cancer.”  In a somewhat over the top statement characteristic of many a college student, one student was quoted in the article saying “Dr. Coffey was a teacher who knew everything there is to know about history.”  Another commented “She had high standards.  She expected a lot from her students, but I’m sure they can look back and say they had the best.”  The latter I think was on the mark.  She expected a lot but she gave the students the full measure of her knowledge, including that collected not only from study and research related to the course material, but also that gathered from her own travel, and her extensive collections of art and music.  

Joan took her inspiration for life and her work first from her parents who sacrificed much to ensure both of their daughters had college educations that their parents had not enjoyed.   On a Sunday afternoon in 1961, when Joan and her parents visited the Barat campus and had their first experience with the Society of the Sacred Heart order of nuns who ran the College, the RSCJ’s as we more familiarly know them now, they were greeted and shown around by Sister Burke, then president of the College, but also the chief tour guide.  Joan committed to attending immediately, and the tour that lasted perhaps an hour began Joan’s relationship to the spiritual, moral, philosophical, cultural, and personal values of St. Madeline Sophie Barat and the Sacred Heart order that she founded, values that remained with her and strongly influenced her for the remainder of her life. 

Joan’s relationship with the Sacred Heart, first fostered at Barat, was further strengthened and enriched as she taught at Sacred Heart schools in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Woodlands in Lake Forest. Her work and really her entire life were always a wonderful reflection of the words expressed by St. Madeline Sophie Barat, who said, “Your example, even more than your words, will be an eloquent lesson to the world.” 

Joan’s research and writing focused on French social, cultural, and religious history, consciously chosen because of lessons learned at Barat and the other Sacred Heart schools where she taught.  Her book, Leon Harmel, Entrepreneur as Catholic SocialReformer,  addressed the practices of a late 19th century French factory owner who was a social reformer and faithful visionary Catholic, far ahead of his time in introducing labor reforms directed at providing workers improved compensation and benefits largely unheard of at industrial facilities in France at that time, and supporting worker pilgrimages to Rome that helped to influence the social teachings of Pope Leo XIII as expressed in his  encyclical, Rerum Novarum 

When Joan and I established a speaker series at Barat in the late 1990’s to honor Sister Marguerite Green, Joan’s mentor at Barat, and address issues of social justice and concern, the first speaker was Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, whose lifelong objective has been and continues to be abolition of capital punishment.  So moved was Joan by Sr. Prejean’s words that she immediately tried to get her to speak at Sam Houston State, which is located less than a mile from the execution chamber used by the State of Texas Criminal Justice system, by far the most active such facility in the country if not the world.  Sr. Prejean was not able to speak there before Joan died, but the annual symposium at Sam Houston State that gathers in memory of Joan welcomed her as its first speaker where she spoke movingly not only of Joan, but the issue of capital punishment, and her mission to eradicate it, to a packed house of people on all sides of the issue. 

Even after Joan was ill, she continued her work with barely a pause, assuming along with me responsibility for the eucharistic ministry to the sick and homebound in our home parish in Texas, researching and writing, in the term prior to her death, teaching along with another cancer stricken member of her department a course dealing with death and dying, and completing her book, including carefully proofreading each of its more than 1200 research footnotes. But mostly she remained focused on her teaching, and especially those students who were like her first in their families to attend college, or were minorities, or did not have English as their first language, or were often not blessed with good study habits and did not write or test well.   

Let me close by recalling her relationship with one young man in particular.  He struggled mightily and Joan spent a great deal of time with him reviewing and rewriting and resubmitting papers.  He needed a C on a final exam, and he came in very uncertain of his prospects, but when the results of the test that she always reviewed without reference to student identities were in and he passed, he came to Joan and with tears in his eyes and folded hands, and told her that he made it because of her support, and that of Sweet Jesus.  Forever after, he was SJ to us.    

Thank you again for the honor of being with you tonight, and may God bless you in doing His work.  I know Joan will be smiling as she sees all of us here moving forward and continuing to inspire others as she would, making a difference in the lives of God’s people, especially those deeply in need.