Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat considered the service of education as the primary means by which the Society would carry on its mission of communicating the love of the Heart of Jesus. For her, education was never the end. The end was to make God’s love known and to rebuild the fractured world in hope; the means was forming young people to intelligent faith, compassionate action and courageous hope.
Inspired by her vision, Religious of the Sacred Heart (RSCJ) see the Society’s mission as revealing the Love of God in the heart of the world. Each RSCJ advances this mission with the heart of an educator.
“Faithful to her inspiration and like her open to new situations, we make her desires our own.
- that people become ever more aware of the truth, of love and freedom
- that they discover the significance of their lives, and devote themselves to others
- that they take part creatively in the common effort to transform the world
- that they be enabled to encounter the love of Jesus
- that they let their lives be shaped by an active faith.”
- Society of the Sacred Heart Constitutions #11
Conference of Sacred Heart Education
The primary purpose of the Conference of Sacred Heart Education is to animate fidelity to mission as the most effective means of invigorating Sacred Heart education for the future. It focuses on three dimensions of mission effectiveness: governance to ensure vitality and relevance of mission; education to mission of boards, chairs, heads and leadership teams to promote depth of understanding of mission; and accountability on the part of school communities to fulfill the mission as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. Appointed by and accountable to the Provincial Team, the Conference aims to provide resources, opportunities and avenues for thoughtful dialogue and discernment about the evolving mission of Sacred Heart education among trustees, heads, leadership teams, provincial team and school communities.
The Network of Sacred Heart Schools is an association of Catholic independent schools in the United States and Canada who share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria.
Today, the Network has a membership of 24 schools and one provisional school.
The Goals and Criteria outlines the essential principles and values of Sacred Heart education. From the very beginning, it has served as a covenant among Sacred Heart educators and the Society of the Sacred Heart on behalf of young people for the sake of building a world reflective of the attitudes of Christ’s Heart. It remains the pivotal document for students, families and educators of the Sacred Heart. This articulation of mission continues to play a fundamental role in supporting mission integrity by expressing the timeless principles at the heart of Sacred Heart education. Schools of the Sacred Heart educate to:
- a personal and active faith in God
- a deep respect for intellectual values
- a social awareness which impels to action
- the building of community as a Christian value
- personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom.
The experience of networking extends beyond Canada and the United States, as the Schools of the Sacred Heart are affiliated with colleagues engaged with the Society in more than 30 countries around the globe. The Network of Sacred Heart Schools offers a program of both domestic and international exchange to its students. The Sacred Heart exchange program has existed for over 40 years and has engaged more than 2,500 students from Sacred Heart Schools in Canada and the United States along with a multitude of international students.
While the number of RSCJ serving in formal education settings has fluctuated throughout our history, today, 10 members of the United States – Canada Province serve at colleges, universities and schools of theology. These include:
- Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis
- Boston College
- Catholic Theological Union, Chicago
- Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
- Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, California
- University of San Diego
- University of San Francisco
From the earliest days of Sacred Heart education, Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat explained that the future of Sacred Heart education is in the hands of the members. Today, the members of the family of the Sacred Heart are many. Given the intractable challenges of education in the 21st century, our mutual relationships expand our individual perspective and allow us to respond with hope on behalf of the young people with whom we work.
Serving as educators is an integral part of the mission of the Society, and in line with this mission, RSCJ are also committed to advance their own education. All members of the Society are encouraged and supported to earn, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. In addition, the international Society of the Sacred Heart and the United States – Canada Province support members in pursuing graduate degrees.