The Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart education define the purpose of Sacred Heart schools as part of the Society’s educational mission in the Catholic Church. This mission finds its source in the vision of Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat who began her work as an educator in 1800 when she founded the Society in France.
As the Society grew, its apostolic works extended into other countries. One of Madeleine Sophie’s earliest companions was another French woman named Rose Philippine Duchesne, the Society’s pioneer missionary. In 1818, Philippine started the first Sacred Heart School in America in the frontier village of St. Charles, Missouri. The year 1881 marked the opening of the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Omaha, Nebraska.
Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart is proud of its long, storied history which includes many beloved traditions rooted in its French heritage. These traditions are an integral part of the Sacred Heart experience for students and parents alike.
Congé (pronounced “con-jay”) means “holiday” in French. Student Congé is a surprise day that is announced once a year. Following the announcement of Congé classes are canceled and the students focus on building community through fun activities and games.
This wonderful word means “to taste” in French BUT is more recognizable in Duchesne students’ memory as a free surprise snack.
In October we gather to celebrate the feast of Mater Admirabilis. At this prayer service, sophomores honor one woman (over the age of 21) who demonstrates a characteristic of Mary. Each girl and her mentor are called by name to the front of the chapel where the sophomore receives her Mater medal from her chosen “Mary” figure.
This prayer service is held at the beginning of May as a tribute to Our Lady. Class representatives are chosen to honor Mary with student reflections and the senior representative crowns her with a wreath of flowers.
Prize Day, a 200-year old tradition that began in the earliest Sacred Heart schools, continues today as a ceremony on the morning of the last day of the school year. It is the formal close to our school year and begins and ends in the chapel. Following an all-school Mass, students receive prizes, distinctions, and recognitions for their academic accomplishments. Each student receives a completion of the year certificate and a wreath of flowers from the Head of School. At the conclusion of Prize Day, they return their crowns to the altar in thanksgiving for the gifts that God has given them.
In the spring, seniors present the juniors with their Sacred Heart rings. During this ceremony, each junior is called by name to the front of the chapel where seniors present her with her ring. After all the juniors are presented with their rings, the seniors turn their rings to face outward. This is symbolic of their imminent departure from Duchesne, and their responsibility to spread the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the world outside of school.