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A Reflection on our Mission after Parkland

"Let us cling to God alone and keep our gaze, hopes, fixed on God....There is your source of strength; you will find it nowhere else."

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

Dear Carrollton Community: 

It has been almost a week since the unimaginable happened at a school in Broward and I find myself continuing to process that tragic loss of life. Being surrounded by our close school community after such tragedy reminds me of God's unending love and grace and I am thankful for its embrace.

As a community committed to the health and safety of our students, we have practical systems in place to help us cope. Our school counselors have shared with us information to help us navigate the aftermath of this crisis. They are excellent professionals and they are at your families’ disposal. Our facilities team evaluates campus security on an ongoing basis, and we are all reminded of the importance of our school safety protocols.

More importantly, as a community committed to “make known the love of God through the heart of Jesus,” this senseless tragedy calls us to look more deeply into our hearts and earnestly at our behaviors. We should let courage, not fear, kindness, not cruelty, compassion, not callousness, love, not hate, guide us in our daily interactions with others.

As parents, students, and educators of the Sacred Heart, we share a solidarity of purpose and mission - preparing our students and ourselves to face both the present and future with critical minds, eyes wide open, and hearts filled with courage, compassion and the conviction that what we are currently experiencing is not a new normal – that we can be agents of change - a force for love, life, and beauty in the world.

With love and prayers

Posted by Mrs. Isabel Singletary on Tuesday February 20 at 02:39PM
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Reflection on the Anniversary Liturgy of Thanksgiving

Sr. Taylor, Sr. Cooke, Fr. Vallee, Trustees, Alumnae, students, parents, spouses, faculty, and friends, or should I just say Carrollton family, in reflecting on the myriad of thoughts and emotions that have been expressed over this weekend of celebrating 56 years of Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, the reunion of our alumnae, and this Family Liturgy of Thanksgiving, I was overcome by a powerful sense of family. Not family in the smaller “nuclear family” sense, rather family in a broad inclusive way. When I mentioned this to my wife, Kim, she promptly said, “Oh, you mean Ohana.” “I’m not talking about Disney,” I said. “Look it up,” she replied. Here is what I found:

Part of Hawaiian culture, “Ohana” means family (in an extended sense of the term, including blood-related, and adoptive, but also intentional). It is a concept that emphasizes that families are broad and bound together through cooperation and collective memory, and care about and for one another.

In thinking about Hawaii and the ocean, I was reminded that this year we are also celebrating the 200-year anniversary of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne’s voyage to the New World, to America. It was this voyage that began the spread of Sacred Heart education, not just in America, but eventually throughout the world. Further reflection, brought to mind that Philippine’s dream was to bring Sacred Heart education not just to the European settlers of the new world, but to the Pottawatomi tribe, to another people. Today the Society of the Religious of the Sacred Heart is present in 41 countries and offers education in approximately 160 educational settings throughout the world.

This got me thinking globally, and unlike St. Rose Philippine, I did not need to get on a boat, and make a long voyage. I clicked on a hyperlink on the Ohana page to a page describing the concept of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu is a Zulu term often translated as "humanity towards others", but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity".

Archbishop Desmond Tutu once offered this definition:

“A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished.  Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness.”

Perhaps Leymah Roberta Gbowee – the Liberian Peace activist and recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner said it best when she defined Ubuntu as "I am what I am because of who we all are." That is certainly much of the spirit that I felt over this weekend.

So, as we end our celebrations of family, school, class reunions, and Sacred Heart education today, I ask that you keep in mind the spirit of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, whose steadfast humility and courage literally began the process of expanding the Sacred Heart family to make God’s love known to the world.

In her words: “How truly blessed we shall be if at the price of even very great sacrifices we shall have made God known and loved by one more soul!”

Thank you and God bless you.

Posted by isingletary on Monday February 12 at 11:31AM
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Call to Worship on the Feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Family, and Friends,

As we prepare to celebrate Mass this Feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, we are reminded that today we begin a year-long Bicentennial Celebration of her journey to bring Sacred Heart Education to the New World. It is because of her vision to bring Sacred Heart Education to the world, her courage to embark on a journey to a strange new land with a different language and customs, and the strength of her faith that enabled her to persevere through some very challenging times that we are here today. Now, nearly 200 years after the voyage on the Rebecca, the Society is present in 41 countries and offers education in approximately 160 educational settings throughout the world.

While it is wise to celebrate and learn from the past, I believe that Philippine would also urge us to humbly embrace the present and move with courage and passion into the future. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne is a model of courage and humility for all of us. Let us pray that we are inspired and emboldened by her example as we are challenged to transcend new frontiers in:

Our personal relationship with God

Our commitment to respect for intellectual values

Our call to act for justice

Our desire to build community

Our challenges in personal growth

Please put yourselves in a place of quiet contemplation and open your hearts as I recite the prayer written to celebrate the Bicentennial of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne’s courageous voyage to humbly yet passionately begin the spread of Sacred Heart education throughout the world.

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Tuesday November 28, 2017
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Charge for the 2017-2018 Year

“We must remember that it is better to begin a great work than to finish a small one. In every order, great beginnings are better than little endings. … Our education is not meant to turn you out small and finished, but seriously begun on a wide basis. … And we must know and make you believe that each of you has a mission in life and that are bound to find out what it is, that there is some special work for God which will remain undone unless you do it, and some place in life which no one else can fill.”

Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ

It is a tradition of Catholic schools all over the world to begin their year academic year with the Mass of the Holy Spirit. As we celebrate this Mass in which we thank God for creation and seek guidance and inspiration from the Holy Spirit, it is my habit to take this opportunity to give our school community its charge for the year. As in past years, my charge comes in the form of two qualities, two virtues, I believe we should reflect upon deeply and practice towards one another and the world.

As we prepare to celebrate the bicentennial of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne’s voyage to bring Sacred Heart education to the Americas, inspired by her courage, love, dedication, and humility, I charge us to emulate her courage and humility.

I believe that Humility is the virtue that makes all others possible. Humility makes it easier to have true courage. It frees you from worrying about how others may perceive you. You have less of a need to be perfect, so you are more open to learn and do new and challenging things.

Humility enhances courage by taking the ego out of it. Courage with humility can be called Humble Courage. Without ego— and with a practiced ability to feel God’s presence with us — humble courage can be undertaken in many ways. Examples of humble courage are not only found in the saints and martyrs. They are also found in us, in daily life; the friend who finds the right words to say when someone in the group makes a negative comment or gossips about someone without power, or the teacher who with humor and hard work can take a full classroom of students and find individual value in each student.

Courage and humility have certainly been tested as we have faced the challenges of nature with courage in the face of loss and destruction. We must maintain the humility to continue to be grateful for what we do have and be kind to, and patient with, others even when we may be anxious, sad, or unhappy - always keeping in our thoughts and prayers those who are suffering or have suffered greatly.

With the example of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, when she stepped onto the Rebecca to begin a voyage into the unknown of a new frontier, I urge all of us to make a “great beginning” this year. Make it with both courage and humility. It is with humble courage that we should strive to discover that special work for God which will remain undone unless we do it, and find that special place in life, which no one else can fill.

Posted by isingletary on Tuesday October 10, 2017 at 11:54AM
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Class of 2017 Farewell

In saying good-bye to you, the senior class, I find the following words of Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ most appropriate to this moment: “We must remember that it is better to begin a great work than to finish a small one. In every order, great beginnings are better than little endings.” 

Seniors, you are at the beginning of building something great. Like any great edifice, there are many individual parts that come together to create a wonderful whole. I have always appreciated the beauty of houses made of stone. There is a certain beauty to strong buildings made up of stones that are not uniform, but instead are very individual and distinct. Yet together, bound by a strong mortar, they combine to build something beautiful. For me they are a wonderful symbol of community. Like those buildings, the strongest communities are made up of individuals, and like those buildings they are bound together by a strong mortar. I believe the mortar which holds our community together are the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Schools. These Goals and Criteria create a mortar that will bind you to the Sacred Heart community for the rest of your lives. I trust that you will continue to live by those Goals as you move into the future and continue to develop and nurture the relationships they call you to have. For, it is in relationships that you will define, develop, and influence yourself, others, and the future. 

What are those relationships? To paraphrase the Sacred Heart Goals: 

Take care of and develop your relationship with God. In the rush of modern life, it can be easy to forget. Not on God’s part but on yours. He never forgets you, and will be there for you always. 

Take care of and develop your relationship with ideas. Be an idealist. Being only practical just maintains the status quo. Most advancement in the world comes from the spark of the ideal. 

Take care of and develop your relationship to those in need. The world has an abundance of unsolved problems and unmet needs. The improvement of the human condition and human security will be most difficult, if not impossible if social, economic, and environmental injustices are not addressed. 

Take care of and develop your relationship to those you are close to. Continue to build your relationships with your family, friends, teammates, classmates, and colleagues. Stay close to those around you, while you continue to build new relationships. 

Take care of and develop your relationship to yourself. I cannot resist yet one more opportunity to tell you to reflect regularly and intentionally on who you are, what you believe, and what you do. Without deliberate intent, reflection is often incomplete or dishonest. Without complete and honest reflection, it is impossible to grow in wisdom. Without exercising wisdom it is easy to become a person of bad habits, easily manipulated by others, rather than one of clear and purposeful direction. 

As columnist, Lloyd Shearer once wrote, “resolve to be tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the wrong. Sometime in your life you will have been all of these.” 

In conclusion, I share again the words of Aloysia Hardy, RSCJ with which I began the school year, “Our loving-kindness with ourselves is the source of our loving-kindness to others. When we develop this consciousness within our self and toward our self, then we can offer genuine, Christ-like love, tolerance and compassion to others.” In other words, be kind to yourself and be kind to others, …always. 

May God Bless You with many wonderful relationships on your journey through life.  

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Thursday June 8, 2017
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Feast of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

Dear Carrollton Community,

As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of St. Madeleine Sophie Barat today we might find comfort in understanding the context of when and where she grew up. She lived in turbulent times. She was only 10 when the reign of terror began in France in the wake of the French Revolution. Much like the unspeakable and the unknown that confront us today, Madeleine Sophie witnessed despair and sorrow every day in the post-revolution streets of Paris.

Armed with a brilliant and well trained intellect, and an indefatigable spirit, St. Madeleine Sophie forged ahead to spread her vision of the deep love of the Sacred Heart burning within her.

It is a testament to the faith and hope that filled her that she fervently believed her destroyed society could be changed by women through their relationships, by the union of their hearts and minds in the service of God. It was her resilience that empowered her to overcome all odds and spread that mission to all corners of the world within her lifetime. 

As children of the Sacred Heart may we always know what St. Madeleine Sophie never questioned; "Courage and confidence! I cannot repeat this too often.“

Blessings,
Olen
Posted by isingletary on Thursday May 25, 2017 at 12:09PM
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An Easter Message

Be humble, be simple, and bring joy to others. - St. Madeleine Sophie Barat 

 

A few years ago, I read an inspiring book, Inside Out Coaching, by Joe Ehrmann. Some of you may recognize Joe's name from a Parade Magazine article a few years back, titled "The Most Important Coach in America," or from the book, A Season of Life. Joe is a former NFL defenseman, who became a minister after retiring from professional football. In his book he articulates his philosophy behind making coaching, and other relationships, transformational rather than transactional. 

Joe describes transformational relationships as "other centered." Transformational coaches use their power and platform to nurture the growth of their players. They impart life-changing messages. They give selflessly. On the other hand, transactional coaches use players to meet their personal needs for validation, status, and identity. They use their power to elicit responses. They see sports as a simple exchange – if they receive from the players the performance they want, they give back praise and status. 

As I read the book, I realized that Joe’s ideas could be applied to all of our relationships. Our relationships with one another can be either transformational or transactional. Initially, I thought that some of our relationships are, of necessity, merely transactional. I go to the store and engage with the clerk at the register when I pay for my goods. I give him/her my credit card, and I get my things. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that even the simplest of relationships could have transformational moments, if we choose to create them. A smile, a "please" or a "thank you" can turn the most mundane interaction into one that is meaningful and uplifting. 

All of this caused me to reflect upon the Sacred Heart Goal IV, to educate to the building of community as a Christian value. The word community comes from the Latin "con" and "munus." "Con" is roughly translated as with or together. "Munus" can be translated as gift. Community therefore is "to give among each other," or "gifting one another." In a community all relationships should have some transformational element, some giving or sharing aspect. And most relationships should be primarily transformational. Just as coaches should love and develop their players, teachers should love and engage their students. Parents should love and cherish their children, not because of what they accomplish, but because of who they are and who they are capable of becoming. 

As we approach Easter, a season of transformation, let us reflect upon how we can be more transformational in all our relationships as we form a community of confident, creative, and compassionate young women inspired to be the best for the world. 

Easter Blessings, 

Olen 

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Tuesday April 11, 2017
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A Lenten Message

Dear Carrollton Community,

As we prepare to enter into the season of Lent we are offered an opportunity to reflect upon our habits of living and grow in our relationship with God and others. St. Madeleine Sophie Barat believed that the relational nature of women could transform the world. The times she lived in were marked by tremendous social and political turmoil, yet she felt certain that women could influence society through the union of virtue with learning, the nurturing of faith and hope, love and charity.

Pope Francis has said “women bring harmony to creation.” In keeping with the vision of St. Madeleine Sophie, Carrollton is committed to what Pope Francis calls the “culture of dialogue”; promoting harmony in our global village; listening and endeavoring to understand and work on behalf of the betterment of all. I encourage you to read Pope Francis' message to all Catholic educators and to reflect upon our touchstone of the Goals and Criteria.

Guided by the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education we are better able to navigate through the noise and incivility of current discourse as they remind us that:

  • We are all equally and infinitely loved by God. Each of us is called to reflect that love, and to see and be the face of God in our interactions with one another.
  • We have the ability to think critically, creatively, and deliberately. We are encouraged to ask questions, challenge assumptions, and arrive at conclusions in a thoughtful manner.
  • We are called to be informed and responsible citizens, as we act for justice.
  • We all live in community. Every person must be valued, cared for, and respected.
  • We are called to show respect, acceptance, and concern for ourselves and others, while growing in responsibility, grace, and wisdom.

The Goals and Criteria bind us together and impel us to live by and make known the love of God, the beauty of the intellect, the power of serving others, the joy of living in community, and the responsibility that comes with freedom. We are blessed to have them.

With love and prayers,

Olen

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Wednesday March 1, 2017 at 10:41AM
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Gratitude during the Holidays

Dear Carrollton Community, 

December is here, and with it often come the feelings of rushed schedules and crowded calendars. The clamor of the modern marketing of Christmas can make it a challenge for us to remember that gratitude, or thanksgiving, should be more than just one day on a yearly calendar. We should be thankful everyday for the gifts God gives us, and manifest our gratitude and kindness in the way we treat others, the love we share, and the patience we call upon when we are most hurried. 

The season of Advent brings to mind many memories of family traditions filled with appreciation, joy, and wonder. As a child, I remember the patience practiced and the delightful anticipation that was developed when my parents gave my siblings and me an Advent calendar. Ours had small doors for each day behind which was hidden a chocolate and a picture.  Not only was the chocolate something to look forward to, but as I grew older, I wondered and reflected more upon the image that would be behind the door.  

At Carrollton we take special time during this season of patient anticipation leading to the joy of Christmas. At the Advent Family Prayer services for each of the schools we take the opportunity to reflect about the meaning and hope of this most expectant season. I invite you to click here for a simple guide to enhance your patient advent experience. I have also included a link here to a web-based (no chocolate) Advent calendar to help guide your reflection. 

Most importantly, I ask that you keep Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart in your prayers, as I keep you and your family in my prayers during this Christmas season. 

Blessings,

Olen

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Friday December 2, 2016
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A Message on Holy Week

Dear Parents and Carrollton Community,

As we enter Holy Week, I would like to share with you the message that I shared with our students at the Ash Wednesday Mass in February. Goal I of the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Schools states that: “Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a personal and active faith in God.” This goal challenges us to help all members of our community meet and make God a part of their lives.

Traditionally, Lent is a period when we set aside time to reflect upon Jesus, His life, death, and resurrection. Through prayer, penance, repentance, and self-denial we prepare ourselves to more fully embrace God in our lives.

To this end, one of the most important things that I can share is that “God meets us where we are.” What do I mean by this? Too often, I have found, and I certainly remember feeling this way at times, that people think that being spiritual requires perfection. That somehow in order to have God in our lives we must be perfect ourselves. This is akin to giving our house a thorough cleaning before important guests arrive, with the added belief that we must keep our “house” perfectly clean in order to keep our honored guest happy. But God does not want, nor need to be an honored guest; He wants to be a part of our family. Like family, He knows that the house will get dirty and unsettled again. Like family, He knows and understands the strengths and weaknesses of each of us, and what we are trying to improve upon. Like family, He wants to be invited in on our hopes and aspirations, to be asked to help us reach them. God does not expect us to be perfect before inviting Him into our lives.

To paraphrase Janet Erskine Stuart, RSCJ, our relationship with God, and one another, need not be perfectly finished, just seriously begun.

Blessings,

Olen

Posted by Olen Kalkus on Tuesday March 22, 2016 at 01:44PM
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