An RSCJ who made a significant and continuing contribution to the understanding and practice of Sacred Heart education is Sr Catherine (Kit) Collins. The details of her life in this account are found in RSCJ Jan Dunn’s book, Catherine Collins RSCJ 1937–2010: Innovator with Heart and Vision.

Kit’s vision for education continues to influence great numbers of practitioners worldwide and to be a source of encouragement for those being educated.

Kit was born to Irish immigrant parents in Boston, Massachusetts, on the 14th April 1937. Her early life was one of love and joy, in a lively, devoted family to which Kit remained committed throughout her life. She was naturally curious and fascinated with people and places. Her first contact with the Society was as a junior in Newton County Day School, which she considered changed her life: ‘I have a very special place in my grateful heart for what was implanted in me as a student of the Sacred Heart.’ Her experience invites us to reflect on positive, early experiences that ‘changed our lives’ and still fill us with gratitude.

Kit entered the Society in Kenwood, in September 1958. In 1965 she received her MA in Education with a joint major in English and Philosophy. One of her early pupils considered that Kit was ‘the best teacher I ever had. She pushed me to go beyond what I thought I could do.’ Here we have an invitation to reflect on and recall those who have urged us to find the ‘more’ and strive for greater self-knowledge and self-awareness, in attaining the fullness of personhood, for which we and those we educate are created.

Kit is probably most widely known for her role in devising and promulgating the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education in 1975, but her many achievements include establishing the first Network of Sacred Heart Schools in the US in 1979, chairing the International Education Commission which produced in 1988 the Working Document Education: A Commitment, expressing the Society’s educational mission, and in 1984 undertaking the design and inauguration of the Center for Educational Design and Communication now known as the Stuart Center in Washington, DC. In addition Kit travelled widely, giving talks and running workshops on Sacred Heart education.

At the age of 29 Kit had a heart attack, but was determined that her ‘bad’ heart would not prevent her living life to the full. She died overnight on 17th March 2010. It is not difficult to imagine her being welcomed to eternal life with ‘well done, good and faithful servant …’

Meg Walshe RSCJ