It may surprise you to know that Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne often wrote in a journal, keeping track of the events of the day, the people who visited, important moments and celebrations – in a word, providing a record of the life of the community. In fact, the cover of this journal is the opening page of one of her “House Journals,” a recording – for posterity – of the significant life events in the earliest days of the St. Charles foundation, Philippine’s first home in the New World.
Year of Prayer
This Year of Prayer celebrates the missionary journey of Philippine Duchesne and her four companions from France to the New World, thus beginning the internationality of the Society of the Sacred Heart, now in 41 countries.
Sister Barbara Dawson, our Superior General, and her Council have invited the whole family of the Sacred Heart to enter the Year of Prayer, to be and to act as one Body, and to create space and silence to listen to the heartbeat of God. What a wonderful way to celebrate Philippine Duchesne, known affectionately as “the woman who prays always.”
Every Monday from November 20, 2017, to November 19, 2018, the worldwide family of the Sacred Heart will be united together in prayer and reflection. Thanks to regional editors, Françoise Greffe, RSCJ (France), Kim King, RSCJ (Canada), Elizabeth Nakayiza, RSCJ (Uganda), and Park Jeong Mi, RSCJ (Korea), the collection of reflections represents nearly all the countries where we are located. The subjects of these reflections are as varied as the background of the writers: friendship, suffering, loss, courage, boundaries, perseverance, hope. The styles include prose, poetry and prayer, and each reflection is accompanied by an image.
Philippine kept a journal, a spiritual practice which helped her become ever more attentive to the inner stirrings of her heart. A pdf journal is provided here for those who wish – either to download or to complete online. The use of social media is also encouraged throughout the world so that insights might be shared among us across our geographic frontiers.
You are welcome to encourage others to join us in prayer. Please explore the bicentennial website for news of coming events and for numerous resources: a short Philippine biography, images, music, lesson plans, pilgrimage options, etc., to enrich your celebration of the Bicentennial Year.
Thank you for helping to make the Year of Prayer a time of grace for all of us.
Spirit of the living God,
you first breathed over the waters of creation,
and one day you breathed a passion
into the heart of Philippine Duchesne.
You called her to cross the waters to a New World,
to bring the message of your compassion and love
to a land and peoples already dear to your heart.
What have we learned from her?
In 1940, T. Gavan Duffy asked a question about Philippine Duchesne: What have we learned from her?
Duffy answered the question himself:
We have learned ...
the value of a steadfast purpose;
the success of failure
and the unimportance of our standards of success;
the power of grace released by deep, divine desires
and simple duty daily done.
In 2018, as we come to the end of the Year of Prayer, we make that question our own:
What have we learned from her?
Fortitude and Love: Ukon Takayama and Philippine Duchesne
On February 7, 2017, the Catholic Church of Japan was newly blessed by the beatification of Justo Ukon Takayama (1543-1615). Ukon was a prominent Christian leader of the church in 16th century Japan. Reflecting on his life in troubled times, I find similarities between Ukon and Philippine Duchesne, especially in their spirituality of prayer and in their perseverance.
Poem to Saint Rose Philippine
Wonderful flower, you who daily nourish the faith and hope of millions of people.
Given a pure and generous soul, incarnated in your infinite goodness and love for people, such are you, O Saint Rose!
God decided to send you into the world on August 29th 1769. At the time of your birth, an old woman who was dying prophesied your birth as a shooting star passed over.
It's never too late!
Our human tendency is to set expectations for ourselves, resisting the creativity of the Holy Spirit within us. We want to know how and when things will take their course. When life does not go as we wish, we believe that God is not really listening to us. Some people think it is too late to explore new ways because they are too old.
Philippine’s surname, Duchesne, means "of oak." For this reason we have always associated Philippine with the oak tree – the white oak that has leaves with rounded lobes. Another major species is the red oak with leaves with pointed lobes. Last year, the cabin in which I made my retreat was surrounded by white and red oaks. This cabin was also built by an aboriginal man. In this environment, while pondering our 2016 General Chapter Calls, I found myself painting a red oak leaf growing between two white oak leaves.
Education: A Frontier
The missionary spirit of Philippine Duchesne is an endless source of inspiration which stimulates us to carry on a prophetic mission on our daily frontier. I dare say that our educational mission in today’s world is a battlefield on the frontier. Faced with the greed generated by a neoliberal model of life, our service of education cannot stand in any comfort zone or neutral position.
Our Timeless Source of Inspiration
The map held by St. Rose Philippine Duchesne could not suffice; she needed the guidance of the Spirit. The Spirit led our dear Philippine to the unknown and to becoming our pioneer missionary to the Americas. This was the beginning of the outward movement of our little Society, the spread of her mission to many other lands, including Africa.