Installation of New Leadership

Written on: July 5, 2018

Our new Leadership was installed in a beautiful ceremony on Sunday, July 1, 2018. Sister Mary Charlotte Barton spoke words of Welcome, and Sister Denise Roche gave a beautiful reflection at the end of Liturgy. Following are their words and message for this new beginning in our history. 

Pictured above L-R: Sisters Anne Marie Beirne, Eileen White, Denise Roche, Barbara Schiavoni and Bridget Connor.

Welcome from Sister Mary Charlotte Barton


Welcome to Knowlton Mansion, perhaps the first for many of you. Our welcome is particularly warm, on this exceptionally warm day in Philadelphia! The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart come here today to participate in a congregational day of thanksgiving and blessing! We welcome all of the Sisters, our Grey Nun Associates, our devoted lay assistants and staff, invited relatives and friends.

We welcome all of you to the celebration of our Sunday Eucharist. Together we will break bread and be nourished with Jesus’ presence and sustenance. During the Mass, the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart will give special thanks to those Sisters who lead us in the government of the congregation.

Every five years, during the general Chapter, the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart call forth five Sisters to leadership positions among us. We ask them to assist us in fulfilling our promise to serve Christ and the Church in prayer and apostolic love, and to stretch forth our hands to all in need ever mindful of our concern for the materially poor.

Today, we recognize ten of those Sisters, the ones who have lead us since 2013, and those Sisters the 2018 Chapter members have chosen to lead us for the next five years.

These Sisters courageously and generously accept the service of leadership. In so doing they call on the Holy Spirit to guide them in this unique role. They enrich all of us by witnessing to and living out the Gospel of Jesus, in the spirit of St. Marguerite D’Youville!

We are pleased to welcome the celebrant of the Mass today – Rev. Timothy Lyons of Philadelphia.  Also, Rev. Kevin Peek of Atlanta, GA. a nephew of Sister Denise Roche. Thank-you for being with us on this special day.

We thank all the Sisters and their colleagues who planned this day; the Mass, the music, the meal and the ambience in this lovely setting at Knowlton Mansion.

And we thank you, all of our friends on the journey of life; for encouraging us and supporting us as women religious in the Church and the world!  For all of these rich blessings and the gifts of this day, we say, sing and pray:  Deo Gratias!  Thanks be to God!

Reflection at the end of the Liturgy- Sister Denise Roche, President

It is a beautiful Gospel today to demonstrate Jesus’ idea and experience of leadership. We all know from the account of the Last Supper what Jesus taught us – by the washing of the apostles’ feet and his attempt to teach them what He was doing.

Today, weary and eager for some solitude and quiet, Jesus plans a little quiet time. The crowds, however, continue to swell and to ask him for help. Jairus, and we can only imagine how desperate he was, wanted Jesus to walk a distance with him and to do what he could to heal Jairus’s beloved daughter. Jesus changes His plans and agrees to go with Jairus.

While on the way the woman suffering from a long difficulty of hemorrhaging, wanted the hope of Jesus’ healing but did not want to disturb Him. But Jesus, knowing her effort, wanted to engage with her. He stopped, talked and then resumed His walk.

Leadership is service,

often tasks no one else wants,

like washing feet,

sometimes noticing,

the pain of Jairus, the weakness of the woman.

Marguerite was an example to us of this desire to lead – or serve – as Jesus did. She worked and did not expect others to do more than she did. She noticed – the poor, hungry, lonely and widened her ministry to include them.

And we have recent examples.

The women completing their term or terms today were stalwart, aware people, who realized that major change had to take place for the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart. They planned, sought advice, found suitable housing for all of us, making sure that health care would be good, housing would allow for us to have a sense of community, and reasonable so that the resources we have can assure even the youngest member that they, too, are cared for.  In an unbelievable way, they prepared for the moves so that Sisters could take what they needed and wanted to retain, they had help packing and had a place ready for them when they arrived at the new place. Along with that they sold and emptied the Motherhouse, purchased furniture, scrubbed, climbed, packed and unpacked and then moved themselves. This feat is possibly the most remarkable one since the start and growth of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.

Today, we enter the picture and continue the line of leadership.

Like those who went before us, giving us the eloquent example of leadership as service, we pray that we can continue this legacy. Please know that, as we begin, we do so with gratitude to Jesus for this example of leadership, to Marguerite and to all the heroic, dedicated women who have brought us to this time and particularly to those leaving leadership today.

As we move forward, please pray for us to be listeners, people who hear and who notice and, of course, people of service.

All together, let us praise God with our lives!

If you would like to see photos from the day, please click here: Installation 2018

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