Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

“Jesus told His disciples a parable on the necessity of praying always...” Luke 18:1

Jesus told His disciples that they should always pray, and never ever give up. They should not lose heart, never turn cowardly. Today is the Feast Day of a saint who did just that. Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne was given an affectionate nickname by the American Indians she was serving. She was called Quahkahkanumad, which means Woman Who Prays Always. The children who would find her praying, would put leaves on the hem of her black habit. The next morning, the leaves would still be there. 

Saint Philippine came from a very rich background. Her family lived in Château de Vizille, one of the most prestigious and important castles in the Dauphine region in France and it is now a Museum of the French Revolution. She left her privileged background against her father’s will to enter the Visitation Convent at 18 years old. 

In 1818, at 49 years old, Saint Philippine and other Sisters from the Society of the Sacred Heart set sail for the New World to become missionaries to Native Americans. They set up the first Sacred Heart School outside of Europe in the small remote village of St.Charles, Missouri. It was free and it was the first Catholic School in America. 10 years after, they had grown to six communities operating several schools.

In 1841, when Saint Philippine was seventy-one, they were asked by the Jesuits to join them in a new mission with the Potawatomi tribe in eastern Kansas, along Sugar Creek. Father Verhaegen insisted that Saint Rose come along. "She may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us."  Sure enough, Saint Rose found it difficult to master their language, and was unable to teach, but she would spend long periods in prayer. 

Sometimes we may be frustrated because we were unable to fulfill our plans, or we were not successful meeting a target. We need only turn to God in prayer like so many saints before us. Nothing is impossible with God. Like Saint Philippine, we can pray unceasingly over a map, a plan, or a picture of a person, and trust that God in His infinite wisdom and love will answer us in the best way. 

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:^) Patsy