The Society of the Sacred Heart, as it is often stated, was "founded in the turmoil of the post-Revolutionary France" by Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat. The mission was brought to North America in 1818 when St. Philippine Duchesne established the first school in St. Charles, Missouri. The history is the story of strong and dedicated women who are true to the Society's motto, "Cor unum et anima una in Corde Jesu" (One Heart and One Mind in the Heart of Jesus).
At some point in the Society's history after it had established mainly schools for girls around the world, the opportunity to open boys' schools occurred. Suddenly the charism of the Society needed to be seen and lived through the eyes of boys. When I speak of the word charism I'm referring to the presence, or as we are often familiar with the related word, charisma. In 1982 the Society articulated what the charism of the Society is: By our charism, we are consecrated to GLORIFYING THE HEART OF JESUS: we answer His call to discover and reveal His love
letting ourselves be transformed by His Spirit so as to live united and conformed to Him,
and through our love and service to radiate the very love of His Heart (SH Constitutions)
"Radiating the very love of his heart," is a gender neutral aspiration, and so when boys' schools were established it was relatively easy to link the mission with boys and girls. The challenge sometimes comes with particular feasts that are celebrated throughout the world in Sacred Heart schools. The Feast of Mater Admirabilis, that we celebrate on October 20th every year, can initially appear difficult to adapt to boys. It is a story about a young Sacred Heart novice who painted a fresco but the colors appeared too vivid and so it was covered over by a curtain. Weeks later the curtain was removed and the fresco was transformed into a beautiful portrayal of Mary/Mater. Over time the colors softened and the painted was deemed amazing.
Each year as I serve in Sacred Heart schools for boys I focus on this part of the story where what appears initially unattractive, or missing the mark, can become amazing and even beautiful. The young novice was at first disappointed and maybe embarrassed but later affirmed by her dedication to her creative work. For Regis boys this is the part of the story where every boy can relate to being persistent, working through mistakes, trusting in their hard work and effort, and trusting in themselves. Often times if we work through our challenges and don't give up we grow and succeed.
Our school is named for Saint John Francis Regis, a man who persisted through difficulties just like the young Sacred Heart novice. John Francis Regis was the favorite saint of St. Philippine Duchesne because of his persistence and grit. In a similar fashion they follow St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne in finding strength through persistence and a desire "to radiate the very love of his Heart." to others.
Our Regis boys have a special gift and opportunity through our Sacred Heart traditions, they can pray to be like others who have come before them, to grow and develop through love, persistence, prayer, risking, and serving others. Through the daily moments at Regis the boys experience and live the stories and become "amazing" in their own right!