By Nicole Hall
October 24, 2018
One of the most wonderful things about working and learning at Forest Ridge is that our identity is rooted in the Religieuses du Sacré-Coeur de Jesu, also known as the Religious of the Sacred Heart. Our rich history, dating back to the 1800s invites us to reflect on our origins and provides us with many beloved traditions. Our connection to other Sacred Heart Schools throughout the world provides us with a sense of solidarity and belonging to something greater than ourselves. Our value of spiritual growth invites us to take opportunities to pause, reflect, and pray.
These elements that make Sacred Heart Schools so special came together in a magical way as we celebrated the Feast of Mater Admirabilis on Monday, October 22.
Who/What is Mater Admirabilis?
Mater Admirabilis, or “Mother most admirable,” describes a special depiction of Mary as a young woman, originally painted as a fresco in 1844 by RSCJ Pauline Perdrau, at the Trinità dei Monti (Rome, Italy). When we imagine Mary, we often think of her later in life, as Jesus’ Mother. However, when Mary was in her early teens, she demonstrated incredible courage, selflessness, and faith when she was given the choice by the angel Gabriel to have God's child. Her answer? An unconditional “Yes!” Through this depiction of Mater Admirabilis, we are asked to remember Mary in this way -- as a young girl, like the Forest Ridge girls and someone who went through the struggle of growing up and becoming a person with her own values, beliefs, and identity. As Children of the Sacred Heart, we know her relationship with God grew as she did.
Our founder, Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, found this understanding to be so important that she wished for this depiction of Mary to be shared with all schools under her leadership. Today, there is a statue and/or picture of Mater in every Sacred Heart School around the world. Our statue of Mater can be found just outside of the chapel, arms filled with the prayers of our students, faculty, and alumni who come to visit her.
How is the Feast of Mater Admirabilis Celebrated?
Each year, schools of the Sacred Heart celebrate Mater’s Feast Day (October 20th) with a Mass in her honor. While it is always a special time for the whole community to join together in prayer, this year felt especially wonderful as we had much to celebrate! After many weeks of practice, our Chamber Choir unveiled the new Mass in honor of Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne which was specially composed by Michael Joncas for Sacred Heart Schools.In between their beautiful harmonies, the brand new and entirely student-led “Forest Ridge Liturgy Choir,” helped to lead our community in song under the direction of Senior Franny A. It was an inspiring display of students taking ownership of their own spirituality and engagement. When it came time to reflect, Alumna Kathy Shoemaker Jingugi of the class of 1970, challenged each student to find their own personal connection to Mater as she shared how her own connection and her time at Forest Ridge shaped her into the person she is today.
After the Mass, our students were, of course, overjoyed to receive their Goûter (goo-tay), another long-standing Sacred Heart tradition. Coming from the French word meaning 'to taste,’ goûter is essentially a special treat that is shared on feast days and holidays. For the feast of Mater Admirabilis, this is traditionally a pink baked good to remind us of the color of Mater’s dress and her youthful nature. At Forest Ridge our girls look forward to pink cupcakes which are lovingly baked by our faculty and staff for this special occasion. This year, nearly 400 cupcakes were brought in. The afternoon was an endless supply of frosting and smiles to be shared with all!
Mater Admirabilis, we call upon you today as our mother and our model. We ask you to keep us under your motherly protection, and to guide each one of us in the way that leads to your Son, Jesus. Help us to follow your example of gentleness by being kind to one another and to our teachers. Help us in our classes – to listen, to study well, to think about things on our own, to ask good questions, and to use, to the best of our ability, the minds that God has given us. Help us to be generous with all our gifts; both spiritual and material. Show us how to share what we have and all that we are. Teach us to give with joyful, open hearts. Pray for us, dear Mater, today and every day, that we may be worthy of our name “Children of the Sacred Heart.”
- A prayer from the RSCJ to Mater
- Forest Ridge Blog