Keeping St. Madeleine Sophie’s mission alive

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The East Coast Keepers of the Flame Conference met September 27 to September 29 at Sacred Heart Greenwich.  The conference joined faculty from ten Sacred Heart schools along the East Coast from as far north as Halifax and Montreal, Canada to as far south as Miami, Florida.  Members of the conference gathered to review St. Madeline Sophie Barat’s vision for education and to identify the relevance of the Mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart within each school. 

St. Madeline Sophie created the Mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart to emphasize prayer, contemplation, and the work of education, according to rscj.org.  The Keepers of the Flame conference helps to better incorporate St. Madeline Sophie’s teachings into the Network of Sacred Heart schools by giving a collection of “keepers,” representatives from each Sacred Heart School, a time to discuss and implement these values.

Ms. Emily Munro-Hernandez, History and Social Sciences Department Chair at Convent of the Sacred Heart 91st Street in New York City, New York, shared her view on the purpose of the conference.  

Members of the conference spent time discussing the Mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart.
Courtesy of Ms. Rachel Zurheide

“The purpose of this conference, in my point of view, is to help faculty and staff members at different Sacred Heart schools to get to meet each other and to talk about ways in which we can further the Mission of the Sacred Heart Network, especially with the vision of Saint Madeleine Sophie,” Ms. Munro-Hernandez said.

Different Sacred Heart schools throughout the network hold the Keepers of the Flame Conference each year.  Mr. Paul Parker, Director of Goal I and the Sacred Heart Spirituality Chair at the Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart in Miami, Florida, has attended approximately 14 Keepers of the Flame conferences throughout his time at Carrollton.  

“For a number of years [the Society of the Sacred Heart] had a national gathering every year of anyone in any Sacred Heart School,” Mr. Parker said.  “But, in recent years they alternate between regional gatherings and national [gatherings].”

The Keepers of the Flame conference is part of the “Formation to Mission” program.  Its purpose is to help Sacred Heart educators to understand the spiritual and communal aspects of a Sacred Heart education, according to sacredheartusc.education.

“The ultimate aim of Formation to Mission is a commitment to live out the values of Sacred Heart education and to integrate them into the fabric of personal and school life,” Sacred Heart Network school, the Stuart Country Day School’s website reads, according to stuartschool.org.  

This year’s Keepers of the Flame conference included Sacred Heart schools from the East Coast of North America.
Sydney Kim ’20

For a total of three days, attendees participated in six sessions during which they examined their roles as educators and discussed plans for the future of the Sacred Heart mission.  They also spent time in the School Chapel thinking about their role as keepers of the flame.  Mr. Parker emphasized the importance of silence and reflection.

“[St. Madeline Sophie] saw silence as a way to, most of all, discover God’s presence,” Mr. Parker said.  “[The keepers] are trying to do the same thing that the religious did, in a way appropriate for us as lay-people.”

As this is Ms. Munro-Hernadez’s first Keepers of the Flame conference, she shared her experience and what she took away from it. 

“One of the takeaways I’ve already gotten at this conference is [. . . ] thinking about the mission of Saint Madeline Sophie,” Ms. Munro-Hernandez said.  “Thinking about the Sacred Heart of Jesus is something I hadn’t really thought about before I came to this conference.”

Featured Image by Sydney Kim ‘20