SOLEMN MASS ensuring the continuation of Sacred Heart Education into the future…
Videos of the Ceremony:
Full length – about 65minutes
Highlights – about 5minutes
Smoking Ceremony. At 10 a.m. on the morning of Sunday May 5th, 2019, assembled guests were seated in a circle in Chapel square, at Kincoppal-Rose Bay School, Sydney, with the students on terraced seats behind. The ceremony was conducted by two Aboriginal men, one explaining its significance and then weaving a smoking branch through the guests, while the other played the didjeridoo. It had to be somewhat summarily concluded when a few drops of rain fell, so a procession entered the chapel hastily, led by two student leaders bearing Australian and Aboriginal flags, placed behind the altar. The 6 Sophia Education directors, other members of the Sophia Ministries, the Provincial Council and 10 other RSCJ went to the front pews on either side, while the students filled the rest of the chapel, with the KRB Choir in the tribune. The Celebrant was Fr Frank Dineen MSC.
The Welcome by Sr Lynette Toohey, Provincial, provided a history of the origin and development of Sophia Education Ministries – a very much appreciated background for all present. We were reminded of the beginnings in 2013, when the then Provincial Council of Sr Joan Pender – Srs Esmey Herscovitch, Kathleen Muirhead and Susan Ross, with Sr Elizabeth Dodds, RSC as consultant, formed the Australian Schools Governance Working Party – Sr Dodds, RSCJ Srs Rita Carroll, Diana Hayes and Anne McGrath – to explore options to ensure the future life of the schools. The Provincial Council then applied to the Vatican to establish a Pontifical Public Juridic Person called Sophia Education Ministries to take responsibility for the three Australian schools. The Working Party canvassed the expertise of many people and approval was granted on 21st November, 2016. Robert Rae chaired the Implementation Committee and a spiritual formation programme involved many people. A different education system in New Zealand precluded Baradene from being part of the process, but New Zealand representatives were present at this ceremony, and all four schools will continue to live our spirituality and educational philosophy.
Six years on, six faith-filled directors for Sophia were appointed. – Peter Pritchard (Chair), Sr Rita Carroll, Marie Leech, Elizabeth McClintock, David O’Donnell and Jacquie Shanahan. To these are entrusted the charism , responding to Vatican II’s call for the laity to take up their role in the church.
The transfer of ownership occurred in a simple and solemn ceremony on 16th February. Recalling St Madeleine Sophie’s words, “Times change and we must change with them”, we may see Sophia Education Ministries as the new life emerging. Sr Lynette then paraphrased thoughts from Sr Leila Barlow’s “Living Stones”. To live is to change, and no entity can live exclusively on its past traditions. Thus we, the Sacre Coeur family, draw breaths from the life of the past for the life of the present…to prepare the harvest for the future. Sacred Heart education has something to do with the heart of another – the Heart of Christ and the hearts of Principal, staff, students, Board Members, Sophia Directors and all along the way – and so we celebrate to-day the deep reality of our Cor Unum.
The Readings of the day were particularly appropriate . In the first : Acts 5: 27-32,40-4 (read by Peter Pritchard, Chair SEM), the apostles learn, after suffering for preaching the Good News, that obedience to God comes before obedience to men…and that they carry the Holy Spirit to help them witness if they obey God. In the second : Rev. 5 : 11-14) (read by Robert Rae, Chair, Implementation Committee) , the angels around the throne of God, the animals and elders and all living things in creation offer praise, honour, glory and power to the Lamb. Before the Gospel the Signed Document was carried up in Procession to the altar by Catherine Baudet, Marie Leech and Genelle Stock.
The Homily on the Gospel (Jn 21: 1-19), given by Sr Lynette Toohey, gave us much food for thought, as she interspersed commentary with pertinent questions applying the text to our lives. The Easter message is fitting, as new life comes from our Sophia Education Ministries. The First reading from the Acts poses the question for us..in what ways do we boldly spread the Good News. The second reading from the Apocalypse presents the heavenly liturgy praising the Lamb of God, and reminds us of St Madeleine Sophie’s vision of forming thousands of adorers, with the question for us of how we do this now. The Gospel on the scene at Tiberias shows Jesus at first unrecognised , but later giving Peter the three questions to elicit three protestations of love after the three denials. His mission to feed the sheep is restored and confirmed through his love and his manner of death foretold. Jesus asks us the same question and calls us to feed people with His love..we each have a ministry of service. Those RSCJ who have been involved in education for many years can be assured SEM will bring new life, and we shall all live this transition with courage and confidence. As Sophia members accept increasing responsibility and others let these go, all are urged to discover and make known the Heart of Jesus, especially where His pierced Heart is found in our troubled and wounded world. Sr Lynette concluded with our response to follow Jesus in feeding the sheep, asking him to show us where and tell us how, always with St Madeleine Sophie’s call to courage and confidence.
Commissioning Ceremony. The six Directors were called to the altar and commissioned by Sr Lynette Toohey to their role. She told them that they are called to their service in the tradition of the Sacred Heart sisters always with the support of the Sisters and all Sacred Heart Educators. Their calling is to maintain schools offering a Sacred Heart education leading students to loving and responsible service. They are to ensure formation to mission of schools and their growth in faith, and by pondering the qualities of the Heart of Jesus in silence, to reflect them into the lives of all they meet. They will be the face of God to all, bringing His love and mercy into the world, crying out for justice, allowing His love to work through them. At each of these calls, the Directors responded “We will” , after which all the congregation extended their right hand asking God to bless them .
Prayers of the Faithful.
-for Church leaders, to lead people more deeply into the love of the Sacred Heart
-for members of the Society , to listen intently to the voice of change in the world; to speak afresh the love and mercy of His Heart, and give each member the understanding of God’s pleasure in her work and life.
–for Sophia Education Ministries , to bless each one, give them faith In themselves and hope to discern God’s movement and respond to it, giving them love for all whom they meet.
-for Board Chairs, Board members and Principals, to come to know the richness of our heritage, , the truth of the five goals and the vision of our wisdom women…to lead through relationships, accept new challenges, and remain faithful to the philosophy and spirituality of the Society.
-for Sacred Heart Educators, to draw strength from the Lord in the stillness of their interior lives, and make His Heart known to all with whom they work
-for all in the world for whom we work : to lovingly care for students, and in various works to listen to God in the lives of others and attend to their needs.
-to all gone before in faith especially deceased members of the Society , bring them into your Heavenly kingdom to praise you eternally.
Espacio after Communion : John Mooney gave a short few minutes of silence, then directed some thoughts of God’s love after thanksgiving. Two student acolytes incensed the altar at intervals.
At the end of the Mass, the three Trustees- Srs Lynette Toohey, Diana Hayes, Kathleen Muirhead – offered final prayers for the Directors:
-that God give them gladness by His blessing; active and personal faith in His Heart to be witnesses of His love and mercy…
-that His creative Spirit bring us all to a deep respect for intellectual values of truth and sincerity;
-that Easter time bring us closer together as a Sacred Heart community , offering authentic human relationships in the spirit of Cor Unum;
-that God make them heirs to an eternal inheritance and courage and strength to bring about a more just society and become stewards of creation
-that risen with Christ in Baptism they would live in a right manner on earth, for faith achieves genuine growth as humans.
Lastly, each was given a gift of a framed picture of S.M.S’s word “courage and confidence” set in vine leaves with bunches of grapes…in accepting your role you have shown great generosity of mind and heart..and this gift shows the Society’s gratitude for your love and support of its work.
Music throughout was excellently performed : the sung parts of the Ordinary of the Mass, from Choir and where relevant with congregation, with Mr Mark Stubley organist and choir director. Additional items from the choir: “All will go well” (words St. Philippine Duchesne, Music Fr Christopher Wilcox SJ, composed for on the occasion of the inauguration of Ms Maureen Ryan as Principal May 2018) after the Commissioning ;“He shall feed His flock (from Messiah, Handel) at Offertory; “My Child” composed to celebrate 125 years of Sacred Heart in Australia, 2007, Christopher Wilcox SJ. In memory of Liz O’Neill OAM , 1986 alumna) at Thanksgiving. Also “Prayer of St Madeleine Sophie” at Communion . Opening hymn for all “All creatures of our God and King” ; “One Bread One Body” at Communion and Recessional “ Coeur de Jesus”.
Afterwards, we enjoyed refreshments in the Hughes Centre, and the opportunity to meet Sophia members and representatives from New Zealand, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
Written by Sr Cec Amiet, RSCJ