At the November 17, 2023 Mass in recognition of the Feast of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, Woodlands faculty member Mr. Elliot Coffey, Head of House for House Duchesne, delivered the following reflection on Philippine's humility.
I have been invited to speak about St. Rose Philippine Duchesne’s humility. As a member of House Duchesne, this is one of our calling virtues. Humility.
Is it a paradox to celebrate someone’s Humility? To focus attention on the quality of not drawing attention to oneself? Perhaps that is one way to view humility, not drawing attention or praise to oneself. So as we spend time reflecting on Philippine’s humility, I would like us to use that time to show gratitude, honor, and praise to those who helped Philippine along her journey.
I think the very first person St. Rose Philippine Duchesne would thank, would be her mentor and lifelong friend, St. Madeliene Sophie Barat. Philippine’s belief in Sophie’s vision and leadership captivated her, she set aside all of her own desires and ambitions to follow and be obedient to Sophie’s charism. You’ve heard the stories of Philippine in her youth, was she someone content to do as she was told? No. There was something truly special - divine - about their friendship. God transformed Philippine through her friendship with Sophie. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne would want us to give thanks for and honor St. Madeleine Sophie Barat on the day of her feast.
Eugenie Aude, Octavie Berthold, Marguerite Manteau, Catherine Lamarre. It was these RSCJ who accompanied Philippine on her trip to the United States on the good ship Rebekkah. Together they arrived in New Orleans and from there set out north to Missouri. It was this group of Religious that were the seeds of which today we present here are the living breathing fruit of their great work. Philippine would want us to give thanks for Eugenie Aude, Octavie Berthold, Marguerite Manteau, Catherine Lamarre and honor them on the day of her feast.
Mother O’Connor, Mother Mathevon, and Sister Louise. It was these RSCJ who accompanied St. Philippine to visit the displaced Potowatami tribe at Sugar Creek in Kansas. Through them, Philippine was able to bear witness to the work she had longed to do her whole life. Though she was unable to do much of the labor herself in her advanced age, bearing witness to that work was likely the greatest most satisfying thing she could have ever experienced. It was the hands of these women, the feet of these women, and the hearts of these women that helped minister to and assist the displaced Potowatami. Philippine would want us to give thanks for Mother O’Connor, Mother Mathevon, and Sister Louise and honor them on the day of her feast.
The Potawatomi people. All her life, Philippine dreamed of reaching the native people of North America as a missionary. I think the Potowatami people could sense her joy and her love for them. It was the Potawatomi who gave Philippine the name “Quah-kah-Ka-num-ad” Woman Who Prays Always. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne would want us to give thanks for the Potowatami people and honor them on the day of her feast.
Last year, we in our Woodlands community came to understand a new dimension to the story of Philippine with respect to the Society of the Sacred Heart and its connection to enslaved people. Shortly, we will honor those people by reading their names and giving thanks for them and honoring them for their place in our story. Each of these individuals made Philippine’s journey possible. Philippine would want us to give thanks and honor them on the day of her feast.
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The following names are people who we would like to honor during our prayer service today. They were part of the Sacred Heart convent and school in Grand Coteau, Louisiana.
Jenny Eaglin, Frank Hawkins, and their descendants
Dave Eaglin, Julia Ann, and their descendants
Wilson Jacobsm, Marie Louise Phillips, and their descendants
William & Josephine
Veslain & Eugenie
August, Rosaline, & Marie Louise
Ignace, Eliza & Thomas Ignace
Peter, Eliza, & Mary
Phillis, Charles, & their daughter
Harriet & Marie Susanna
Mary Ann & Jane