Director Barbara Menard joined other members of the Alumni/ae of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of San Diego for the Bicentennial Celebration of St. Philippine Duchesne on October 2, 2018. The celebration began with Mass in Founders Chapel with Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy as the Celebrant and Homilist. He shared about the vision and dedication of the women who came to the United States to serve and educate. After Mass, Sr. Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ shared some of her research on the life of St. Philippine Duchesne from her book “A Legacy of Love and Learning.” This was followed by a lovely reception in the patio outside and walking through the entryway is a statue of St. Philippine.
Born on August 29, 1769 in Grenoble France, Rose Philippine Duchesne entered the Society of the Sacred Heart in 1805. She had a dream of becoming a missionary and in 1818 she answered an appeal of Bishop DuBourg of St. Louis, MO. She left France for the United States with four companions and after a most arduous journey they founded the first house of the Society of the Sacred Heart in St. Charles, Missouri. In 1820 she opened the first American free school for needy children west of the Mississippi River. She was also the first to open an academic school for girls in the Missouri area in support of excellent education for women. In 1840 Philippine devoted her time and presence to the Potawatomi people in Sugar Creek, Kansas. Although she never mastered the difficult language the people gave her the name, “Woman Who Prays Always.” She spent the last decade of her life in St. Charles, MO and upon her death in 1852 at the age of 83 she had spent 34 years in the United States. Her fortitude, faith, courage and humility continue to inspire people.