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Guest Blog Post – Celebrating St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Throughout this school year, we will feature guest bloggers to share different perspectives on or experiences with boys education on our Head of School blog. Our next guest blogger is Tara Carnes,  Regis' Music Teacher and Choir Director. Sacred Heart schools around the world celebrated the Feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne on November 18, and Tara reflects on Philippine's influence on her life.


St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Stained Glass Window at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart

I have three saints in my “saints posse”: Hildegaard von Bingen, Julian of Norwich, and Philippine Duchesne. These ladies have my back and have helped me in my spiritual journey. Philippine is my “anam cara” (soul friend) and the one who brought my daughter and I to Duchesne Academy.

At first, all the Sacred Heart terminology, feasts days and goals were confusing to me. Over time though, these began to fall into a rhythm and become familiar. I learned to play “Coeur de Jesus” and later sing it as well. Even though I broke my ankle roller-skating with the Middle School at my first congé, I looked forward to this fun celebration each school year! I began to learn some basic facts about the early Sacred Heart mothers.

One year, the Middle School headmistress, Sr. Ann Caire, asked me “Why weren’t we singing “Strong Was Her Heart” for Philippine’s Feast?” I told her the hymn just did not speak to the students, or to me (I was pretty sassy back then). She challenged me with “Well, if you don’t like it, why don’t YOU write a Philippine song?” I said “Ok then, I will!”

I sat down to compose and realized I did not actually know all that much about Philippine. She was just a saint locked in one of the stained glass windows of our chapel. Fortunately, Sr. Caire had a comprehensive biography about Philippine to lend me. The first few chapters were really slow, and I almost quit reading, but when the RSCJ sisters began their perilous journey across the Atlantic, I was hooked. They suffered many frontier hardships when travelling up the Mississippi, and later, setting up schools in the St. Louis area.

As I read her biography and finished composing her song, “All That I Am,” I had such respect and admiration for Philippine Duchesne. I prayed to her and asked her to show me her hopes and dreams, her disappointments, and her relationship with the Divine. I closed my eyes and imagined myself sitting on the porch with Philippine and talking.

Over time I began talking with Philippine about my own life and the things with which I was struggling mightily. I admired her unshakeable faith and clearness of vision. Even though she sometimes doubted herself being a good superior, or felt like such a failure when she could not master speaking English or Potowatami, Philippine never stopped planting the seeds of God’s love. If one thing didn’t work, she tried another.

Philippine also showed me the gift of contemplation. She often prayed the night through on her knees before the tabernacle. These hours spent letting herself just BE in the Divine’s presence transformed her. She was willing to let go of her ego, her agenda, and allow Christ’s love to flow through her.

I no longer see Philippine as a saint locked in a stained glass window—she IS the beautiful stained glass window through which God shines.

-
All That I Am


O Divine Love, my very God
Let my soul look up with a constant hope and my will be lost in you
And when the storms of life surround me, you lead the way
You guide my steps on the road ahead each and every day

All that I am and all that I have, this sacrifice of love
Offering all, keeping nothing, let it rise above
To the Heart of Jesus
Heart of Jesus
Heart of Jesus
You are my all in all

Let my love be a consuming fire
And all my dreams my very God, a breeze that fans the flame
Pour on it incense and perfume of all goodness
And to this holy sacrifice bring all that I possess

Offering all, keeping nothing, let it rise above
To the Heart of Jesus
Heart of Jesus
Heart of Jesus
You are my all in all


Bio: Tara Carnes teaches music at Regis and is the director of the Regis Choir. This is Tara's fifth year at the school. Prior to joining the Regis community, Tara taught for fourteen years at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Houston, TX. Tara holds a bachelor of music from University of South Dakota and a master of arts from the University of North Texas. When Tara's daughter went to college, she went back to school at the Haden Institute in Niagara Falls, Canada and received her Spiritual Direction certification. Tara grew up in South Dakota. She moved to Texas to attend UNT, fell in love with the state and never left.