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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent Message: Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ

"Preparation is spoilt by impatience and want of resignation. If the vision make any delay, wait for it, for it will surely come and shall not tarry. Few things are so restless, unsatisfactory and useless as impatient waiting - especially following on hurried preparation, and one of the hardest and gravest lessons is to learn to wait with patience and resignation. If Advent adds any of these qualities to our spirit of preparation, it will have been well spent."

Janet Erskine Stuart RSCJ (1857-1914)
6th Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart

The above quote is taken from the perpetual spiral-bound calendar "The Life Lived" which celebrates the Centenary of Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ - (click here to order). And. to order your very own Janet Erskine Stuart Centenary Memorabilia - click here.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Message: The Upward Spiral of Gratitude by Imma De Stefanis, rscj

Stuart Center in Washington, D.C.

The Upward Spiral of Gratitude

Thanksgiving 2014 

During this season of giving thanks I would like to invite us all to go one-step further: To cultivate an orientation of gratitude in life and work.  On the surface there may appear to be little difference between the two.  In actuality, however, gratitude carries a depth and breadth of experience that has drawn the attention of researchers and psychologists for many years.

Gratitude is thankful appreciation for the benevolence of another in either tangible or intangible ways.  Most of us feel gratitude from time to time, especially when things go well or, more specifically, when things go better than we may have expected.  Cultivating a life orientation of gratitude, however, is more than just spontaneous feelings of gratitude; it requires expressing it - intentionally, authentically and regularly.  The focus is not on me, but rather on the other person.  Psychologists have shown the physical, psychological, emotional and social benefits of expressing gratitude.   In short, people who engage in genuine, regular expressions of gratitude report greater physical and mental health.  This is evidenced by demonstrably lower levels of anxiety and depression; sounder sleep patterns; greater resiliency when confronted by obstacles or disappointments; enhanced interactions with colleagues; greater sense of team; and “huge increases in happiness scores.”   The Templeton Foundation (2013) found, however, found that while almost all survey participants reported feeling happier and more fulfilled when someone thanked them, a staggering 60+% said they never or very seldom express gratitude.  

What blocks our ability to express gratitude?  Our country’s ethos of the self-reliant, can-do person tends to value independence and competitiveness over interdependence and collaboration.  Researchers find that in the workplace people fear that showing gratitude makes them appear weak or vulnerable.  Perhaps it is precisely through this experience of vulnerability that expressions of gratitude more often strengthen, not weaken, relationships.  Certain aspects of technology (e.g., email) have created a false sense of immediacy and urgency.  Gratitude, on the other hand, requires time and space to engage in three simple steps (adapted from Brother David Steindl-Rast,

First we must recognize the gift.  Wake up, notice and see! Recognize the true gifts of our lives and recognize where our blessings are the result of others’ toil, not our own. Second, we need to acknowledge that something outside ourselves has touched our lives in some significant way.  We must also acknowledge how unjust political, economic and social structures heap “blessings upon the blessed.”  Finally, we must express what our hearts hold (joy, grief, burden, relief, connectedness, isolation).   It is in the raising up of our voices that gratitude becomes the upward spiral.  What we express opens us and others to further acts of benevolence; opens our eyes and ears to justice and injustice; and maybe inspires and motivates others to action.  A life orientation of gratitude, therefore, provides fertile ground for the seeds of justice to take root.  

Happy Thanksgiving from all at the Stuart Center! May our work and our lives be punctuated by gratitude that begets justice so that one day, working together, all in our world may enjoy the bounty of our earth.

Imma De Stefanis, rscj, Ph.D. Executive Director Stuart Center  


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Quote by Janet Erskine Stuart: "God will see to everything..."

"... it is exactly like that. God will see to everything, everything...and you have only to leave everything... to His Care."

Janet Erskine Stuart RSCJ (1857-1914)
6th Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart

The above quote is taken from the perpetual spiral-bound calendar "The Life Lived" which celebrates the Centenary of Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ - (click here to order). And. to order your very own Janet Erskine Stuart Centenary Memorabilia - click here.

Today is the day my mother would have celebrated her 96th birthday but she is no longer with us.  She died after receiving 25 days of hospice care on August 29th. Known to always wear a couple rosaries around her neck the last few years of her life, my mother was a very prayerful woman. The last two summers she was most interested in hearing of my trips to England and to learn more about Janet Erskine Stuart. So the quote above and especially the notation at the bottom of the calendar is especially meaningful and brings me solace on this day.
"I read and prayed these lines so many times as I went through hospice with my husband that I finally realized: yes, I can leave everything, each detail large and small to His care, not just now, but every day of my life."  - Josette D., Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, Houston, Texas

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sacred Heart Gratitude for Native Chicagoan Cardinal George

Photo taken at Sacred Heart Schools Chicago January 9, 2013

"Joy is the song or psalm of the spirit under the pressure of happiness, and to give God the fullest and best service possible, we must train our spirit to sing that psalm continually."

Janet Erskine Stuart RSCJ (1857-1914)
6th Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart

The above quote is taken from the perpetual spiral-bound calendar "The Life Lived" which celebrates the Centenary of Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ - (click here to order). And to order your very own Janet Erskine Stuart Centenary Memorabilia - click here.

Sacred Heart students and alums have had the pleasure of getting to know native Chicagoan Francis Cardinal George, OMI since he was installed as Archbishop of Chicago in May 1997.  I had the pleasure of meeting him in May 2000 during the Barat College commencement exercises when the Cardinal received a Doctor of Humane Letters.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, I'd like to say that on behalf of all the Sacred Heart alums who have come to know Cardinal George we joyfully sing a song of praise and gratitude for his service to Chicago and most especially our Sacred Heart community.  We pray that his health improves and that he enjoys his retirement here in Chicago.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Prayer used by St. Philippine Duchesne

Philippine Duchesne in prayer - Artist unknown

November 19th

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."

Taken from the book: Through the Year with Philippine Duchesne

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Feast of Saint Rose Philippine Duchense

November 18th Feast of Rose Philippine Duchesne 

Academy of the Sacred Heart - St Charles, MO

"All that is coming to us in the future.  We thank with our eyes shut, for the joys and sorrows - all that is unknown.  We may not have the presence of mind to do it then."

Janet Erskine Stuart RSCJ (1857-1914)
6th Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart

The above quote is taken from the perpetual spiral-bound calendar "The Life Lived" which celebrates the Centenary of Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ - (click here to order). And to order your very own Janet Erskine Stuart Centenary Memorabilia - click here.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Remembering Sacred Heart Alumna Former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne

Jane M. Byrne
(May 24, 1933 - November 14, 2014)

"The way to do much in a short time is to love much.  People will do great things if they are stirred with enthusiasm and love."

Janet Erskine Stuart RSCJ (1857-1914)
6th Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart

The above quote is taken from the perpetual spiral-bound calendar "The Life Lived" which celebrates the Centenary of Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ - (click here to order). And to order your very own Janet Erskine Stuart Centenary Memorabilia - click here.

The above quote by Janet Erskine Stuart has me thinking of the funeral I attended for Barat College alumna and former Mayor Jane Byrne today. 

Margaret Jane Burke was the second of six children born to William P. and Katherine Nolan Burke. All four of their daughters (Jane, Carol, Mary Jill, and Donna) and daughter-in-law (Julie), would graduate from Barat College.  Additionally many of their grandchildren and great grandchildren are Sacred Heart alums.  

The story below describes my impressions of how the Sacred Heart education Jane Burke Byrne received, prepared her to be elected Mayor of Chicago in 1979, as well as, the similarities between Jane and Philippine Duchesne who was canonized in 1988. 

On November 17, 2014 Chicagoans lay to rest their first and only elected female mayor of this great city!  And, it was 35 years ago on November 18th (Feast of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne) that Carol Kleiman, reporter for the Chicago Tribune wrote:"Barat's Brightest they learned they could be anything - even the mayor".  While I was not aware at the time this article was published the significance of its date, I never forgot the story headline.  Earlier that spring I had volunteered to work in Jane Byrne's south-side campaign office located in the 18th ward.  Later in the fall of 1979, I transferred to Jane Byrne's alma mater Barat College. While Jane Byrne becoming mayor had nothing to do with my decision, the article that was written about her life and especially of the Sacred Heart education that she received at Barat College has stayed with me to this day.

According to the Tribune article the Barat College of the 1950's was considered "the school for Catholic women, especially those of Irish descent.  It was known, even then, for telling women they could be anything they wanted to be. At the same time, Barat very traditionally emphasized the importance of being a good Catholic wife and mother." Janie Burke was a premedical student and in addition to taking the required courses in literature, art and music, she was required to take six biology courses to complete her major.  Dr. Janet Towne, a close personal friend of Jane's mother Katherine was her mentor and role model.  While the studies at Barat were rigorous, the RSCJ nuns did arrange for their girls to attend mixers at Notre Dame.  It was not uncommon for a busload of girls to head south to Notre Dame and perhaps meet a potential husband.  So while she graduated with a premed degree it was rather providential that on one of her many trips to Notre Dame during her junior year that Jane Burke met handsome William Byrne. 

Kleiman writes "much of the mood and atmosphere of Barat in the '50's was a reflection of the strong personality and intellectualism of Sister Margaret Burke...” Margaret Burke, rscj served as President of Barat College from 1954-1975 and while not a relative of Jane Burke the two women were friends during Jane's college years and beyond.  
"Jane Byrne was different. 'Jane was a pioneer, ' says Sister Burke. 'She had a foot in two worlds: She was interested in getting married one day, and at the same time she was premed, which was unusual for Barat.  I was all for her being a doctor. She was a libber in those days: The role of women then was to be intelligent and well-educated - but not to be carried away."

Thirty-five years later after attending Jane's funeral today and as we celebrate the Feast of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne on November 18th, I see many similarities between these two women.  Both Jane Burke Byrne and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne were pioneers and trail blazers.   They would also be characterized as strong willed, tenacious, and determined.  While appearing tough as nails, they were both caring and loving women. Both women were small in stature, yet they had big ideas and certain circumstances impelled them into action.  Duchesne's desire was to come to the United States and teach the Indians. Upon taking office as Mayor, Byrne pledged in her Inaugural address " bringing a new renaissance of neighborhood life and community spirit, a renewal of confidence in the future of our city and a revival of opportunity for all Chicago."    

A concelebrated Mass of Christian Burial was hosted in St. Vincent De Paul church where Jane's grandparents worshiped decade’s prior. Monsignor Kenneth Velo gave the homily, which was spot on. Velo stated that Jane Byrne "loved Chicago and was proud to have served as its mayor".

Mayor Rahm Emanuel thanked Jane's daughter and Sacred Heart alumna, Kathy Byrne for "sharing your mother with us." He continued his remarks by saying that "we are a better city today because of her life, one devoted to serving and strengthening the city that we all love."  Emanuel went on to say that Jane Byrne should be recognized for the many steps she took to improve our city.  He emphasized how grateful we should be to Jane Byrne for her dogged and determined optimism.  Emanuel said Byrne blazed a new trail for our city and was the first mayor to: "formerly recognize the city's gay community and march in the pride parade; sign an ordinance to get hand guns off the city streets; started the Taste of Chicago, envisioned the Museum campus, and began the revitalization of Navy Pier."

Grandson Willie, alumnus of Hardey Prep recited a favorite quote of his grandmother by Robert F. Kennedy. 

Kathy Byrne summed up the spectacular life of her 81 year old mother in her words of remembrance. She stated throughout her mother's life she would be described as having  "tenacity, confidence and a delightful sense of fun" in whatever she did and when there was a real problem her mother was a "dragon slaying, problem solving, 24/7 guardian angel". Kathy concluded her remarks by saying that her mother "loved every minute as Mayor, she loved and knew this city and knew its people as no one ever has and she was privileged every day to serve it.  Even more than the city, my mother loved her family...she loved each one of us uniquely and she loved each one of us loyally."  

When the mass concluded Byrne's casket left the church as it entered it: draped with a flag of the City of Chicago. The Bagpipes & Drums of the Emerald Society, Chicago Police Department in single digit temperatures preformed beautifully.  It was awesome to see the street filled with the many Chicagoans that loved Jane standing in the freezing cold as the wind blew the orange colored funeral flags on each of the cars lined up for her funeral procession to Calvary cemetery. The funeral procession took a detour south into the loop and past City Hall and then past her former residence on Chestnut Street before heading up north to Evanston.  Just as we arrived at Calvary cemetery, snow began to fall softly.  Monsignor Velo asked the family and friends gathered to huddle together as he gave a final blessing and we all recited The Lord's Prayer.  Yes, our dear, demure, feisty, tenacious, lovable, former Mayor Janie Byrne was laid to rest today!

She has left an indelible mark on the city ... One Chicago = Jane M. Byrne = Cor Unum

Barat's Brightest by Carol Kleiman -  Chicago Tribune (1963 - Current file); Nov 18, 1979
Mayor Jane Byrne Inaugural Address, 1979 - Chicago Pubic Library

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day... Remembering Our Sacred Heart Relatives in Roehampton, England

Photos taken by MER during visits to the campus in 2013 and 2014

Today in England at the University of Roehampton a remembrance service was held.  The Society of the Sacred Heart and University officials reached out to the relatives of the deceased whose names are engraved on the long memorial wall that measures approximately 6' high by 37' wide. Students, faculty and staff from Roehampton University were joined by the descendants of the deceased for the short service that included two minutes of silence.  

Dedicated on May 24, 1918 by the Revered W. Roche, SJ, the war memorial is dedicated to 275 men and women who lost their lives during WWI - all relatives of the RSCJ and children who attended the Society of the Sacred Heart Convent.  The school was located on the Digby Stuart College Campus from 1850 till 1945.  While the memorial was originally dedicated in 1918 for those that served in WWI it also commemorates one person from the Boer War,  one person from the Korean War and 11 from WWII.

In collaboration, the University and the Society Archives have taken on the task of trying to trace as many relatives of those honored on the Memorial wall as possible.  They hope to record the stories and create a published account in time to mark the centenary anniversary of the dedication in 2018. 

The Convent of the Sacred Heart was founded in 1842 and originally located in Berrymead, London. In 1850 the Society moved the school to Roehampton.  During the air raids of 1940, part of the buildings on the campus were damaged and towards the end of the war a new location was sought.  The Marden Estate was purchased by the Society of the Sacred Heart on November 27, 1945 and has remained there ever since. 

For further information, please contact Gilly King, History and Heritage Advisor, University of Roehampton.