Opening of Probation 2023-2024

It is a joyous moment for the
Society of the Sacred Heart
as they welcome seven RSCJ
who are beginning their Probation journey
together in Rome.

On September 14, 2023, the General Council officially welcomed the new probanists: Mary (UGK), Ruth (RDC-TCH), Barbara (POL), Uche (USC), Nataly (CHI), Gloria (COL), and Nancy (RDC-TCH), who will be staying at the Villa Lante in Rome.

From the time of Madeleine Sophie, Probation has been a gift from God and the Society in which each probanist is given the time and space to hear God in a new way and to deepen her relationship with Jesus Christ, in immediate preparation for making a lifelong commitment as an RSCJ.

In her opening conference, Superior General Barbara Dawson outlined the context in which our Sisters are living this time of Probation:

You are here together in probation as the whole Society prepares for the General Chapter of 2024.  I am sure that over the past several years you have participated in many conversations and gatherings in your own provinces about the Society’s future – who God is calling us to be and what God is calling us to do?  You are privileged to be together at this moment, to live in a cross-cultural, cross-provincial community and to have the space to create something new.  Probation will give you the time and the space to share more deeply with your peers from other countries, to explore how to live this moment in the Society and discover your way to contribute to the future of our mission and our world as woman in the church, as professed religious of the Sacred Heart. 

For this specific Probation group, the directors Christine Mukoko and Gerardette Philips chose a modern-day icon to accompany our sisters during this journey. The icon they chose is the image of the Coronation of Mary.

Speaking about the icon that has been chosen, Sr. Dawson said, “The icon reminds us of Jesus’ tender relationship with his mother.   Many paintings show us Mary’s role as mother to her child, as nurturer, teacher, guardian and guide.  We all know Mary as Mater Admirabilis, the young woman who sits quietly doing her daily tasks, preparing to become the mother of Jesus. Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrow, a feast particularly important to Sophie.  Soon you will be able to see the painting that Sophe prayed in front of in the Villa Lante Chapel.  The unique mosaic that has been chosen for this probation shows Mary and Jesus as adults, with a tender and mature relationship.  We know that they have walked together the road of life, with all its joys and pains.”

She also talked about the experience of living in Rome, and how, during these months of probation, the probanists will have the opportunity to walk in the steps of Sophie, who lived and breathed the air of the Villa Lante’s gardens as she contemplated her own joys and challenges. In addition, it is a significant time for the Church, as Pope Francis is convening “a historic synod to explore a more inclusive, participative way for the Church to move into the future.”

Finally, she suggested they pray together with a short litany taken from the references to Mary in the Constitutions (§9, 22, 41, 90, 118 and 119):

Mary, woman of faith among the people of God, live close to us.  PRAY FOR US

Mary, whose heart is united and conformed to that of Jesus, and leads us to Jesus.  PRAY FOR US

Mary, who welcomed and gave Christ to the world, so all may have life.  PRAY FOR US

Mary who was called to follow Christ in a life conformed to His.  PRAY FOR US

Mary, you who keep all things in your heart, teach us to welcome the Word of God and to go forth and announce the Word with joy.  PRAY FOR US

Mary, Mother of Church, watch over God’s people, help us to be faithful to the Word of God made flesh and bold in our living this Word each day.  PRAY FOR US

We ask all this of you, Mary, Mother of God, through your son and our brother, Jesus


Let us pray for our sisters and the Probation Community during this special time.

Read the full text of the Opening Conference below