On this fourth week of January, 60 years ago, Carrollton opened its doors as the Convent of the Sacred Heart. This past Sunday, January 23, students, families, faculty, alumnae, trustees, and friends celebrated this anniversary by coming together in worship, attending an outdoor mass in the center of campus. The community witnessed a glorious celebration officiated by Fr. Robert Vallee. In the Call to Worship, Head Master Olen Kalkus brought the attendees to the origins of the school. Describing Carrollton’s mission as an analogy for the works of mature found in our aptly named home, El Jardin, Mr. Kalkus reminded us that as Sacred Heart educators we are gardeners in God’s fields, and in so doing, we honor God, the Gardener of all creation.
Continuing that chosen theme, our liturgist, Debbie Consuegra, lovingly gave a rendition of Dorothy Frances Gurney’s (1858–1932) poem, God’s Garden, for which Father Vallee created the music. A stanza of this poem is carved on the coquina rock of the estate. As every Carrollton student and alumna knows, it is said the decision to open a Sacred Heart school on this site was instantly made when the Vicar of the Society laid eyes upon these words:
The kiss of the sun for pardon, the song of the birds for mirth, --
One is nearer God's heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.
Within the context of this beautiful liturgy, the Carrollton Alumnae Association presented the 2022 Spirit of Sophie in the World Alumnae Award to Laura Kelly Garcia ’95. Her extensive and consistent contributions to Carrollton as a parent, alumna, mentor, volunteer, and leader, and to the general community as a woman of compassion, hope, dedication, and faith, embody the tenets of a Woman of the Sacred Heart. Laura is a fitting recipient of this award and deserving of the legacy of the past recipients.
In closing, Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ, Provincial of the Society’s United States-Canada Province, and past Headmistress of Carrollton, highlighted the relational nature of our calling as members of the Sacred Heart family, and emphasized the value of the alumnae body, collectively and individually, in the continuation and expansion of the mission our foundress, St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, outlined for all who would come after her.
It was a joyous day of celebration, history, hope, and commitment to a wonderful future.