"A Remarkable Woman …" Arriving in St. Charles, for a visit in 2001, I wandered into a gift shop in the town and was approached by an assistant. With pride she said, “There was a remarkable woman who lived here in the early days and now she is a saint.” Then, noticing my medallion, she said, “Oh, you’ll know all about her!”
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.
My Friendship with Philippine
Lights on Philippine Duchesne Appeal to the Young. Some years ago, two boys aged about twelve came to our house to ask for help with their school project on religious life. We told them a few facts about our Society and gave them some booklets and pictures. A short time later, we were invited to their exhibition.
The woman who prays always
Since we were children, educated in a Sacred Heart school, we learnt to recognize the name of Philippine Duchesne as the first missionary of the congregation, without many details, but we knew of whom we were speaking.
Crossing Boundaries - Breaking Barriers
Philippine Duchesne offers us the heart of a "frontier woman." She was a woman of deep prayer, as others described her, and a woman who spoke with her heart in the Saint Charles and Florissant world of her time. She was undaunted by language, culture, climate, distances and uncertainties of every kind. Instead, like a humble seed in the earth, she garnered a rich harvest in the slow process of dying and birthing.
To Be and to Act as One Body
The Society has recently called us “to act as one body…” moved from its center by Love. Within this body, life flows, weaving different kinds of connections, bringing energy and flexibility to each part. What affects one of these parts affects the whole body.
General Chapter of the Society of the Sacred Heart, 2016, p. 15.
A Community of Three
My first community was named "Duchesne," and it was on the Feast of Philippine that I entered the novitiate in the Philippines. Since then Philippine has had a place in my heart, and I have been deeply inspired by her life of prayer and zeal for mission. From her story, I learned that her first desire for mission was to go to my country but that God had another plan for her. With all these connections, I felt close to her and often turned to her for help.
Philippine‘s life is marked by many qualities. What stands out for me is her silence, which attracted many in her day and still seizes our hearts today. This legacy of silence was at the heart of Philippine’s life, enabling her to remain focused on the Lord’s ways interiorly and to act radically. The interior life she lived enabled her to risk new frontiers in response to calls of her time.
Woman With A Global Heart
I find Philippine Duchesne to be a particularly inviting model for our twenty-first century world because she had a global heart.
A global heart shifts the focus of interest and compassion from “me” to “us” to “all of us”! This development describes an emergence of consciousness and compassion into ever-expanding circles. The circle of “my neighbor” is an ever-increasing number of people with whom I am capable of truly empathizing. A global heart has an inclusive, wide tent and a porous boundary!
I think that Philippine would be very surprised by the admiration and inspiration that she arouses in us. Years ago, when I heard about her for the first time, I was impressed by her desire to be a missionary. I was struck by the fact that, with all that needed to be done in her country, with the great needs and challenges of the society of her time, she looked beyond her own frontiers and wanted to bring the love of the heart of Christ “to the ends of the earth”.