Advice to Young People

Suzanne Cooke, RSCJ
I don’t know about you, but in spite of a packed weekend full of meetings, I did stop long enough to watch some of Barbara Bush’s funeral. I have always admired her tenacity, her straightforwardness and her fidelity to relationships.
No matter which commentator I heard, all referred to Mrs. Bush’s 1990 Wellesley Commencement Address.
Once I read it, I understood why. I recommend the speech to you not simply because it is well constructed and of interest historically since Mrs. Bush shared the podium with Mrs. Gorbachev. I encourage reading Mrs. Bush’s address addresses because she offers sage advice:
  • Believe in something larger than yourself ... to get involved in some of the big ideas of our time.
  • Find the joy in life. Early on I made another choice which I hope you will make as well. Whether you are talking about education, career or service, you are talking about life ... and life really must have joy. It's supposed to be fun!
  • Cherish your human connections: your relationships with family and friends. For several years, you've had impressed upon you the importance to your career of dedication and hard work, and, of course, that's true. But as important as your obligations as a doctor, lawyer or business leader will be, you are a human being first and those human connections --- with spouses, with children, with friends -- are the most important investments you will ever make.
As I listened to Mrs. Bush’s words and watched her looking at the faces of the Class of 1990, I thought of all the students of the Sacred Heart in our Network who are looking forward to graduation. I also envisioned the scores of Educators of the Sacred Heart who have accompanied these young people during their schooling. Our hope is to educate Sacred Heart graduates to be the best for the world. This hope is not prompted by egoism or an attitude of being triumphant. Rather it is aspirational in nature. Like Mrs. Bush, we want to instill in our students the zeal and energy “…to learn about and respect difference, to be compassionate with one another, to cherish our own identity ... and to accept unconditionally the same in others.”
Our education of young people is inspired by the conviction that it is only in coming to know one’s true self that one can become an inspired agent of transformation. Our students are children and adolescents. They are at the beginning of their life journeys. Through our work with children and young people of all faiths, we focus on the development of the whole person, by engaging their hearts, minds and wills. We help them discover their own unique gifts and the giftedness of others. I think we Sacred Heart educators have a sense of urgency in our accompaniment of our students on a path of discernment. Ideally, we awaken in them an appreciation that these gifts are instilled by God’s grace. Belief in the common good, the necessity of joy and deep value of relationships are principles that shape our educational practice. We hope that our children and young people become Sacred Heart women and men who serve the world with compassion, critical-consciousness, authenticity and hope.
Schools of the Sacred Heart share in the educational mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart as articulated in the Goals and Criteria. The structure supporting Sacred Heart education in Canada and the United States includes the Conference of Sacred Heart Education and the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.  Together they provide services and programs to ensure vitality of mission for the member schools sponsored by the Society of the Sacred Heart.