Head of School Blog
Susan Tyree Dempf, Ph.D.

Sophie’s Charism — A Gift to us All

Dear Academy families and friends,

This week we celebrated the 203rd anniversary of the founding of the Academy of the Sacred Heart by St. Rose Philippine Duchesne and her four companions: Eugenie Aude, Octavie Berthold, Catherine Lamarre and Marguerite Manteau. These courageous and faith-filled Religious of the Sacred Heart came to an outpost town, the launching point for westward exploration, and opened the first free school west of the Mississippi. Challenged at every turn, they established the Academy and set in motion the founding of houses (schools) across the country and south into Cuba and South America.

To honor that tradition of going beyond boundaries, students at the Academy participated in a Commissioning Mass to honor their commitment to others. With their parents present, Eighth Class students were recognized individually with the gift of a Philippine medal.

While following in the footsteps of Philippine, students were reminded that Philippine’s work was done in support of the charism given to and shared by her friend, foundress of the Society of the Sacred Heart, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat. A charism is considered “the extraordinary graces given by God to an individual for the good of others.” Sophie’s charism came about as she recognized the situation in her homeland following the French Revolution — she knew she needed to do something to make a difference in the lives of others. She sought to make known the love of God present in the heart of Jesus to help people come to know they are loved by God.

This past Sunday, we read from the letter of St. James wherein he reminds us that having faith is not enough . . . it is through deeds (good acts) that faith is demonstrated. This summer I learned that 82% — nearly 2,000 charisms recognized by the Catholic Church — are no longer active. These extraordinary graces, these gifts, are no longer being experienced. This fact makes the Academy’s Commissioning Mass even more significant, as through the commissioning, students pledge to hold Sophie’s spirit, her charism, her gift in trust . . . ensuring that it will be carried forward.

Each of us, whether parents, alumni, teachers, staff, administrators or friends of the Academy, has the opportunity to choose, as these students did, to discover the graces God shares with us and reveal them to the world for the good of others. When we cooperate with the Spirit dwelling within, we see opportunities everyday to love God and our neighbor. Through this our lives become “an eloquent lesson to the world.”

Caritas vincit omnia. Love conquers all.

United in mission,
Dr. Susan Dempf