On December 8th, 2023, we draw to a close a year when the Sacred Heart family in the province of England–Wales has been remembering and celebrating how the seeds of the Society of the Sacred Heart were sown on the soil of these islands in 1842.

In December 2022, in the Reflection which launched this special 180th year, I wrote that “anniversaries are opportunities to pause and look back over the years since the event we are marking, to reflect with gratitude on how it has shaped us an individual and as a group.” Well, throughout this year we have been pausing and reflecting as the Sacred Heart family in England and Wales – RSCJ Sisters, partners in mission, colleagues, students and friends. We have remembered and re-told the story of the last 180 years and celebrated the gifts and graces of God, given to us throughout that time.  

Our celebrations have taken many forms. We have shared memories of people, places and events. We have been encouraged to re-read our own history books and many of us have delighted in re-discovering the stories of some of the people who have been part of this 180-year-old journey. With our 1842 candles lit, we have sung and prayed in thanksgiving in private prayer spaces, community chapels, assembly halls, churches and even a cathedral … and let’s not forget the parties of all kinds, including a garden party! We have planted trees to mark the event and some of our younger family members have carried out hours of generous service in their local communities.

As the year draws to an end, a good educator might ask “what have we learnt from the experience of travelling this path?”

One thing I have learnt, is that when a group of people remember something together, it releases an energy and strength which isn’t there in the same way when we just remember something as an individual. When we share the fragments of memory and put together the parts of the story that we each hold, then we create something new. In some ways we become what we have remembered. This year we have literally “re-membered” something and together have created a narrative, a new Chapter in our Sacred Heart story in these islands – the story of who we are now and who we might be in the future.

Running as threads through the last 180 years has been the Society’s trust in the fidelity of God and the strength of commitment to our vocations and calls. Our history reveals our passion for education and a spirituality of the heart which can transform lives.

Let us pray to become what “we remember” in relation to our trust in God, our fidelity to our call, and our belief that God is with us as we walk into the next Chapter of the Story.

A word of gratitude to all of you who have celebrated with us and who are on the journey into the future with us. Last year I finished my Reflection with the words of Dag Hammarskjold, and I repeat them again, here.

For all that has been, Thanks. To all that shall be, Yes.”

Sister Cath Lloyd RSCJ