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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Message from Pam Snyder, AMASC President

Pam Snyder, AMASC President 2010-2014

Thanksgiving, November 28, 2013

Message from Pam Snyder, AMASC President 
Many nations celebrate harvest festivals- a time to rejoice in the crops that have been gathered at the end of the growing season. In the US a special national holiday is observed annually to celebrate the harvest and to thank God. 
While there were thanksgiving services held in what is now the United States by early settlers from Spain, the concept of an annual civic celebration traces its origins to The Pilgrims. These were Protestant settlers from England who brought the festival tradition with them to the New World of America where they celebrated Thanksgiving in 1621 after their first successful growing season. The Pilgrims were thankful not only to God but to the Native American peoples whose gifts of food kept the newcomers alive the preceding winter. So to show their appreciation, the Pilgrims invited the Native peoples to a three day feast of Thanksgiving. As the Pilgrims were a devout people and the Native Americans had strong beliefs in Divinity, this first Thanksgiving would have also been an interfaith as well as an intercultural event.  
Yes, relations between the European settlers and the Native peoples would not always be harmonious, but those first peoples understood how important each group was to the other. They created an ideal for us to strive for as we share the bounty of a healthy earth with family and friends. 
There are ways in which AMASC is like the first US Thanksgiving, we cross cultures, languages, faith traditions and good traditions. Yet all of us are univted in the Heart of God who loves us unconditionally.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sr. Ronnie Dewey, RSCJ (1929-2013)

MER with Srs. Ronnie Dewey, RSCJ and Anne Davidson, RSCJ
taken at Oakwood Community (May, 2011)
Rosemary Dewey was the youngest child of William Manzur Dewey and his second wife Elizabeth Victoria Ervin.  At the time of her birth on August 18, 1929, her parents resided where her father worked, as President of the Edgewater Beach Hotel.  Ten weeks later America would face the world's biggest stock crash and little Rosemary known as "Ronnie" would grow up during the height of the great depression in Winnetka, Illinois.  

Ronnie Dewey, RSCJ passed away peacefully on November 13, 2013 at the Society of the Sacred Heart retirement community Oakwood in Atherton, California.  Ronnie is predeceased by her parents and siblings: William, John, Elizabeth, James and Robert. For more info: rscj website

Ronnie Dewey was a 1947 alumna of the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois (now known as Woodlands Academy) and a 1952 alumna of Manhattanville College in NewYork. 

During the summer of 2004, as Barat College and Woodlands Academy were celebrating their 100 year anniversary of education in Lake Forest, IL, I had the opportunity of video taping various alums that had been educated in the 100 year old building on the campus called Old Main.
"In August 1904, one month before the first academic year in Lake Forest began, the Sacred Heart Station of the Chicago, North Shore, and Milwaukee Railroad was built near the southern boundary of the campus.(1) 
Ronnie Dewey, RSCJ agreed to sit with me in a one of the refurbished parlors on the first floor of Old Main and reminisced about her years attending the Academy of the Sacred Heart, Lake Forest, Illinois  as a "Day Hop".  Excerpts from Ronnie's interview can be viewed below. 

At Manhattanville College, Ronnie was involved in various sports.  She made Varsity Basketball and Tennis her Freshman year and also served on the Hockey team.  Ronnie was also a member of the class council her junior year and served as chairman of the Welfare Committee her senior year.  

"Welfare is a unique organization. Around the clock it covers every phase of life on campus, from elections through meetings to dining room courtesy.  It represents our wish to maintain a spirit of gracious living amid the confusing complexities of college existence.  This standard is not easy to maintain, but Welfare is ever-present rousing the forgetful with pleas for a tidier gym and a quieter chapel corridor.  A neat black notice board announcing clubs and committee meetings keeps the threads of a busy day untangled.  The sensible distribution of extra-curricular activities is safeguarded by an ingenious point system.Working with Student Government and the Faculty it completes our education by developing social responsibility and leadership.  Directed by Mother O'Byrne's prudent foresight and Connie's (*) appealing friendliness.  Welfare has instilled in us the ideal of Christian politeness, which is Charity." (1)
Note:  (*) The reference to "Connie" is Connie Minahan Weber, MC'50, Welfare Chairman (1949-50) and the above excerpt is taken from the Manhattanville yearbook.
Yearbook Photo Courtesy of the Manhattanville College Archives. Caption below:
"Ronnie's two-toned Chevvy is never seen empty of its merry throng, but the owner's popularity is because of Ronnie herself. Her chores as the College Emily Post range from checking on Academic dress to maintaining order in the Assembly Hall. Our Ronnie takes these and all crises in her stride, meeting them with that quiet graciousness that inspires confidence in everyone around her."

The above video is an edited portion of an interview conducted at Barat College, Lake Forest, IL with Sister Rosemary Dewey, RSCJ in the Old Main building.  The building at one time was home to Sacred Heart students who attended grade school thru College.  Known all her life as "Ronnie",  Sr. Dewey returns to the school in 2004, its Centenarian year and reminisced about her days attending the Academy as a "Day Hop".  

  (1) = Taken from BARAT COLLEGE: A LEGACY, A SPIRIT AND A NAME BY Martha Curry, RSCJ 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Twenty-Five Years After Her Canonization

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne ~ Canonization July 3, 1988
Tapestry of Saints created by artist John Nava. Photo circa 2009 as seen in the
Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Twenty-Five years ago on July 3rd, many Sacred Heart alums traveled to Rome to attend the canonization of Philippine Duchesne, RSCJ, in St. Peter's Basilica and to witness His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, add our beloved Mother Duchesne to the list of Roman Catholic saints.  

Sacred Heart alums in the Chicago area who were unable to attend this ceremony, celebrated mass on September 21, 1988 at Holy Name Cathedral as Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, archbishop of Chicago (1982-1996) presided at this celebratory mass.   I proudly remember that evening well.  Over 1,500 alums filled the Cathedral.   

Born on August 29, 1769 in Grenoble, France, Philippine made her first vows in the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1805.  In 1818, she sailed for America and founded the first Convent of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, Mo., on September 7th.  On November 18, 1852, Mother Duchesne, RSCJ died and was buried in the cemetery of the first convent that she opened. On May 12, 1940, Rose Philippine Duchesne was beatified by His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. 

Today over 2,560 Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus continue the mission of its foundress St. Madeleine Sophie Barat as they provide education, pastoral work and spiritual guidance in 41 countries: discovering and making known the love of the Heart of Jesus. And, almost 200 years since she first came to America, young girls and boys continue to be educated with the same beliefs and values that were instilled by Mother Duchesne and the many RSCJ that followed in her footsteps. 

Prayer used by Mother Duchesne:  Lord, You alone are the Center in which I find rest.  Give me Your arm to support me, Your shoulders to carry me, Your breast to lean upon, Your Cross to uphold me,  Your Body to nourish me.  In You, Lord, I sleep and rest in peace.

Shrine of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
photo taken on November 18, 2011

The above prayer is taken from the book: Through the Year with Philippine Duchesne 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Quote from St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

Academy of the Sacred Heart ~ St. Charles, MO

"When you learn to know human nature a little better, you will cease to be astonished at what it can do and say!  Any group of men and women can, however holy, produce evidence of this, in small matters and sometimes in graver ones.  So, we must be patient and peacefully tolerant, doing what we can, praying and putting our trust in God, to carry out the divine plan."

 ~ 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, November 3, 2013

Judith Cagney, RSCJ, Former President of Barat College Died Today

Sister Judy Cagney, RSCJ   (July 26, 1938 - November 3, 2013)
photo taken July 2012

Judith Cagney, RSCJ, died early this morning at Mt. Sinai Palliative Care Center in New York,  surrounded by members of her immediate and Sacred Heart families.  A Mass of Resurrection will be held at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, 91st Street Chapel on Wednesday, November 6, 2013.  Burial will be at the Kenwood Cemetery in Albany, NY. For further information, contact

Born on July 26, 1938 in Chicago, Sister Cagney was predeceased by her parents, Mary Cecilia Lynch (1985) and Richard Cagney (1986); and her sister Toni (1994). She is survived by her sister Joan Meyer, BC'63 and brother Richard (Meg Wehmer, BC'73), as well as many nieces and nephews. 

Judy Cagney was a 1956 alumna of Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart. Following graduation, she attended Newton College of the Sacred Heart in Boston and in 1958 transferred to Barat College.  After a semester at Barat, Judy entered the Society of the Sacred Heart and made her first vows in 1961 and final profession on July 20, 1966.  

Sister Cagney received her Masters Degree in Philosophy at Fordham University and went on to earn her PhD. She later returned to Barat College where she taught Freshman Philosophy and lived on campus in the Merrill Residence Dormitory. 

In 1974 Sister Margaret Burke, RSCJ retired as President of Barat College after serving in that capacity for twenty-one years.  "In June 1974, Judith Cagney, RSCJ, became Acting President; in July 1975, after the Board of Trustees conducted a year's search, they appointed Sister Cagney Barat's third President" (p209). The next eight years the college faced increasing financial strain and after 124 years of educating women had decide to admit men.  That same year (1982) Sister Cagney's resignation was announced.  She was the last religious president of Barat College in Lake Forest, Illinois. 
"More than two decades later, when Sister Cagney looked back on her years as president... she praised the students, who are grateful for the education they received and were 'incredibly loyal' to the college... Sister Cagney also remembered the majority of faculty members as excellent teachers and exceptional members of their own academic disciplines, providing the students with a strong academic program. She, however, considered Barat's financial situation to be the major challenge during her years as president." 
In 1982, she became Provincial Treasurer a position she held until 2001 and also serve on the U.S. Provincial team. Sister Cagney moved to New York where she served as Chief Financial Officer of Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, East Harlem, 2001-2010.  Most recently she devoted her time to social work in the New York area. 

I had an opportunity to attend the 2012 Provincial Assembly hosted in St. Louis last summer as a collaborator and was pleasantly surprised to see Judy Cagney.  She greeted me with a warm smile and hug. Later that evening after dinner, we spent time reminiscing about our days at Barat.  I told her how much I appreciated all that she did in those turbulent and precarious years.  

On behalf of all Barat alums, I extend my heartfelt condolences to her family and friends. I am sure I am not alone in recognizing all of her contributions to the Society of the Sacred Heart and know she will be missed by all.

Note: quotes are taken from pages 209 and 210, Barat College: A Legacy, A Spirit and A Name by Martha Curry, RSCJ