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The Spirit that Drew Philippine Still Beckons: Sheila Smith, rscj, Ph.D.

Two hundred years after Philippine arrived in North America, I arrived at a new frontier of my own. My journey was shorter than hers – a short airplane flight from Ottawa, Canada to the United Nations (UN) in New York City. And I did not dream the way that Philippine did of coming to the new world in which I find myself. But, like her, I was strongly drawn by the Spirit in other ways. I too was asked to reach for a new global frontier and to “set sail” and go with others to new geographic and existential peripheries to accompany the life that is emerging there (Chapter 2016, 18).

Like Philippine, many Religious of the Sacred Heart, including myself as the Society’s Representative at our NGO at the United Nations, serve in roles that are both religious and political. This is because along with our partners in mission, we seek to serve in God’s mission of love as a voice for transformative education in our social and political contexts. For RSCJ, as for Philippine in her day, it is essential to defend justice, peace, and the integrity of creation in response to all of those who are searching for meaning in their lives, those who have been wounded, displaced, and excluded because of poverty, violence, and environmental degradation (Chapter 2016, 18).  Like Philippine, we too are called to remain humble and to be women who pray always that our social attitudes and actions are challenged and transformed by the Gospel values we profess. 

January 2018

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