“My good daughters, […] if every child that is entrusted to us in our schools is brought up in the fear of God, if we, moreover, train the little mind, we thereby educate the heart and instil into that child the principles of religion and honesty in such a manner that he/she will grow up a good Christian citizen. […]
May your school be not only a school of literature, science, mathematics and history, but also of virtue, solid Christian morality, and you will have rendered a great service not only to religion but also to your country.”
[Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini]
EDUCATION OF THE HEART
Discovering who we really are and all that God has already done in us
by Pablo Cicutti
Integral Development of the Person
Mother Cabrini wrote to the students of the Magisterium Institute:
If every child who has been entrusted to us in our schools… if we not only instruct his mind, but educate his heart…
My good daughters, make not only a school of literature, science, mathematics, history, but also a school of customs, of Christian moral soda, and in this way you will have made a great service, not only to religion, but to your homeland…” (Letter to the Pupils of the Institute of the Rome Magisterium , Chicago, February 1906).
The symbol of the Heart (to which I would like to dedicate a separate article) points directly to the most intimate and integral part of the person. Beyond the words that are meaningful at a time, Mother Cabrini indicates how education should have as focus the integral development of the person. And this, I believe, is something that will always remain in force, regardless of the purpose to which our educational systems will tend in the future… “school” can disappear, but not education. It is an extremely broad subject and there is a lot of good literature dealing with it. In this brief reflection, I would like to refer only to three aspects that seem to me particularly important.
Education of the Heart in Affirming Identity
Firstly, an anthropological view is at issue here. In the West, dualism has its roots in a distant past to be minimized. The Christian tradition, for its principles and its practice, has conceived the human being “divided in two parts”, body and soul, it has also has given him a moral, let him identifying the good with the spiritual part and, the body with the place of the senses, of emotions, of pleasure, or rather of evil, of what is obscure and suspicious, which must therefore be hidden, dominated, repressed….For this reason we must emphasize strongly that we come from the hands of God, and that we are made in His image and likeness (Gen 1:26-27), therefore, “very good” as written in the Genesis book (Gen 1:31). Our body, together with all creation, is called and anxiously awaits redemption (Rom 8:19-23).
Education of the Heart in Creating Community
Secondly, there is also a clear conviction of the community. Just as the family is the primary educator of every human being, the school is also called to collaborate in this task. The whole school, as a community, has the principal task of educating through a network of relationships where everyone grows integrally thanks to the experiences and life of community…
“We need to make all our institutions better equipped to be more welcoming to young people, since so many have a real sense of being orphaned. Here I am not referring to family problems but to something experienced by boys and girls, young people and adults, parents, and children alike. To all these orphans – including perhaps ourselves – communities like a parish or school should offer possibilities for experiencing openness and love, affirmation, and growth. In a word, to create a “home” is to create “a family”. “It is to learn to feel connected to others by more than merely utilitarian and practical bonds, to be united in such a way as to feel that our life is a bit more human.” Papa Francesco, Christus vivit, 216-217
Education of the Heart in Empowering us to Fulfill our Vocation of Love
Finally, I want to explicitly consider a possible risk. Education can also be an instrument of manipulation, indoctrination, subjugation and control, adaptation to a certain “status quo”, in short, domination and creation of dependence. Therefore, we cannot but consider the centrality of the Heart of Jesus in Mother Cabrini’s life and, in what she meant by “Education of the Heart”. The Heart of Jesus, symbol of God’s love, “center of the center” of every Christian reference, speaks to us of the sacredness of our heart, that is, about how sacred we are. Jesus “loved with the heart of a man” (Gaudium et Spes, 22). In him is revealed our condition as children of God, but also the possibility of loving like him: “I give you a new commandment: that you love one another; as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34), because our heart is like His, because we are like Him. There is no greater proclamation of liberation than knowing and considering ourselves all “children of God”, called to the universal vocation of love. That is, being called to the full exercise of our freedom, as a path of personal fulfilment and as humanity.
Education of the Heart is what helps us to discover who we really are and all that God has already done in us, like Mary in the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, great things the Almighty has done in me” (Lk 1:46.49). Therefore Education of the Heart is what can help us, even in times of isolation, to free ourselves and put on wings.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 2020
Pablo Cicutti is a theologian, a layman, and has been accompanying the Cabrinian communities in Argentina theologically and pastorally since 1994.
PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE: THE CABRINIAN VISION THAT ACCOMPANIES OUR LIVES
A Reflection from Educators of the Heart at Istituto Cabrini in Rome
by Deborah Pucci and Stefania Caragnano, teachers at Istituto Cabrini in Rome
What is Education of the Heart?
“Educating of the Heart” is the founding principle of Mother Cabrini’s educational method. The Saint’s pedagogical intuition is based on the use of persuasion as a means of influencing people and catalyzing profound changes. This educational work is facilitated only when God’s love is present and guides our actions to involve children without any form of imposition in their own process of growth. Education of the Heart corresponds to a transformation of one’s heart, making it as close as possible to the Heart of Jesus, and contributing to the formation of one’s character and a strong personality.
The Importance of Education of the Heart in Today’s World
Mother Cabrini gave the following advice to one of her Superiors who had difficulties in her relationship with another sister:
“Another time try not to impose the changes needed, but advise and imply. You will get far and could tell the sisters anything without hurting them. I have always been happy after acting in this way when I have had to deal with difficult characters; but when using abrupt and severe ways I never got anywhere. We are missionaries of the heart of Jesus and we must imitate the meekness of this adorable heart in order to do a good work with souls” (Saint Francesca Saverio Cabrini, Epistolario, Vol. 1, Lett. n.416, p. 614).
Today, more than ever, living in a society lacking fundamental values and facing a difficult historical period, it becomes increasingly necessary to follow Mother Cabrini’s educational undertakings. Religion and faith are the only ways able to achieve a superhuman vision of life. They give meaning to the obstacles that we find on our journey, restoring that inalienable hope that fights against the resignation that comes from facing the darkest moments of our lives.
Families and Schools Working Together in Educating the Heart of the Child
Family and school have different but complementary functions in the education of children. Even if the family is the primary educational agency, the school comes alongside and supports the family. More and more we find it often ends up being its fundamental substitute, therefore it is makes it so necessarily for us to communicate the principles of religion, faith, honesty, and a sense of responsibility. For Mother Cabrini these principles were at the basis of the formation of good citizens and good Christians. School must allow children to learn, but above all to grow as “humans”: the formation of character is possible through Education of the Heart, which combines faith and reason.
How can faith and reason support and prepare children of today? The answer to this question lies in the union between spirituality and organizational intelligence, which sets young people free to make mindful and responsible choices which are based on values that will allow them to more effectively navigate the world they are living in. During this period of the covid-19 health emergency, families had to manage the tasks usually carried out by schools, thus becoming a fundamental support in ensuring their child could ‘distance learn’. Collaboration between the school and the family has become more necessary than ever before, and we have found that our mutual trust has been built on those principles of solidarity and generosity that were the pillar of the values of our beloved Saint.
During the pandemic, we saw that parents who found hope in God’s love despite an uncertain future were the ones who could find the strength to adjust to a difficult and completely unexpected moment, thus revealing the resilience that turned the crisis into an opportunity for some. Faith therefore becomes the driving force for achieving a constructive view of life. Religion offers the family the possibility of understanding the extraordinary nature of a critical event in fact as a moment for growth, finding security and protection in the love of Jesus.
~ Deborah Pucci
~ Stefania Caragnano
Graduate in Psychology and Cognitive Behavioral Psychotherapist, she occupies of special didactics and of the interventions, for the scholastic purview, in the disability area. For this reason she continues her training enabling herself in the teaching with the Degree in Primary Education Sciences. She has been working for 4 years as support teacher in the Primary Area of Cabrini Institute in Rome, devoting her profession in exclusive way to this field.
“Enhancing the words written above is a beautiful poem also coming from Mater Gratia Province, Colegio San Pedro Apòstol, Bilbao, Spain.
This poem expresses the Love of God encapsulated in an Education of the Heart” approach.”
In God’s Love School
The Heart of Jesus is reflected in the unlimited and open School,
this is where Mother Cabrini found God’s love.
Mother Cabrini penetrated, lived and embraced Jesus Heart,
and put Him in charge of her life o lead what will forever be her mission.
Love of God, a gifted and free love,
a love that repairs and forgives, that restores the pains and offers to fill in the gaps every morning.
In contemplation and in deep prayer,
Cabrini discovers the greatness of a School of Love,
of a Pedagogy of Love, of an Education of the Heart!
She looks at the world and discovers the pain and the condition of the orphans, their lost gazes, their disorientation, their loneliness, lack of understanding, abandonment and obliviousness of God.
She starts to walk at a steady pace, without fear, with Jesus leading there is nothing she can lack,
maybe just the time for all she wants to offer.
From this love her schools were born, welcoming and bright schools everywhere, full of hope,
of generosity, life-stories telling, speaking of love and truth.
Hundreds of children, none without a piece of bread,
no-one without a lesson, an answer, a kiss,
without a school bag containing all that is required to equip them for the future.
Excellent organization, austerity, a lot of passion,
patience and forgiveness, intimacy and personal witness,
God is in them; they must lack for nothing!
And her schools increase in time and space…
and survive great storms and gales,
because ” I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”
In the great School of the Heart of Jesus,
a small difficulty or a major pandemic
are always presented as a great opportunity.
An opportunity to completely empty ourselves of our selfishness,
approaching the needs of others and finding in this a sufficient reason for a happy life.
A chance to forget the prayer that sounds like a lullaby,
and rather practice the prayer that changes things,
the prayer that can turn every life into a miracle, and allow us to penetrate the unfathomable Love of Jesus’ Heart, just as Mother Cabrini did.
~ MERCEDES FERNÁNDEZ
Born in Cantabria, Spain, on July 15, 1950. A teacher by profession, she has spent her entire working life (since 1973) at the Colegio San Pedro Apóstol in Bilbao. The Cabrinian ideals, which she has known and integrated, with passion and dedication, over the years, have gradually shaped all her teaching activity, her commitment to the MSC and her own personal life.
An Education of the Heart at Cabrini University: A Transformational Language of the Heart, A Family Beyond Borders
by Beverly Bryde, Dean for the School of Education at Cabrini University
At the Heart of Education at Cabrini University
An education of the heart at Cabrini University is a transformative process for all who are engaged in the institutional mission, entitled Education of the Heart. Our university mission states “Cabrini University is a Catholic institution of higher education dedicated to academic excellence, leadership development, and a commitment to social justice. Cabrini welcomes learners of all faiths, cultures, and backgrounds and prepares them to become engaged citizens of the world.” Describing the transformational process is different for everyone, but for me and my varied experience and roles at Cabrini, an education of the heart has always been this burning desire to look outside ourselves and into the hearts of those we serve. At the university, we reach and teach beyond ourselves and beyond the borders of our campus community, our country to find our purpose in our life’s mission. We have created a language of the heart that communicates beyond our native language and across languages of voice, languages of need, and languages of community. During these difficult times with this global pandemic and the social injustices of racism, we call upon our transformed hearts to move into action and purpose.
Creating a Family, a Culture and a Community Across Borders
In the book St. Frances Cabrini a Passionate Life, Mark Davis writes, “In the gradual emergence and flowering of any human person it is difficult to overestimate the influence of home and family. The remarkable woman who would become Mother Cabrini owed much to the domestic circumstances in which she grew up. It was from her family, especially her mother and father, that she received her personal strength, her tenderness, and her faith. What she also received was an appreciation of the value of a stable, happy home – something which she would seek to provide for many of the neglected immigrant children who came her way during her later life.”
Cabrini University has created such a family community and home for all students, faculty and staff who reside and work at the institution. The Cabrini University community provides strength through the education of the curriculum and the education of heart, while sewing those threads of justice throughout the experiences of students, faculty and staff. As such, we rely on the language of Catholic Social Teaching to communicate our purpose, our way to reach out beyond ourselves and serve one another. The language of the heart is a unifying language of solidarity. It is being with others, learning from others, growing with others and working together towards the liberation of all. As expressed by a group of aboriginal rights activists from Australia in 1970, “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
A Call to Active Pursuit of the Common Good
Our core curriculum, Justice Matters, is developed to engage our faculty, staff, students and community partners in a process of awareness, action and advocacy for the common good. The curriculum calls us to move beyond the classroom and into the community, both locally and globally. By engaging with impoverished schools, purposeful people, and broken systems, we learn to work together towards the common good. Our college student transformational experience is evident in the leadership roles they pursue and the choices they make such as fair trade practices and advocating for the marginalized.
Exhortation to Fulfill Our Cabrinian Mission
The Missionary Sisters and our laity strive to make the mission come alive at the university. I have worked at other institutions of higher education but have never been more challenged to live God’s purpose than at Cabrini University. In reaching beyond the classroom, our students, faculty and staff partner with the local and global communities as well as the Cabrini Ministries around the world. Beginning in 2010, we had faculty, staff, and students partner and visit Cabrini Ministries in Swaziland, now Eswatini, and developed an educational partnership that has transformed how we all approach, plan and implement traditional educational practices. When visiting St. Phillip’s Mission we experienced the steadfast and transformational work of the Missionary Sisters, Cabrini laity and most importantly the Swazi people to redevelop this part of the world and restore hope. We were in solidarity with Swazi people and our family was broadened, borders dissolved, mission entwined, and all with our unified Education of the Heart.
Another meaningful experience in the transformational language of the Education of the Heart, and a true gathering of a family beyond borders, was the Cabrini Educator’s Institute that welcomed all Cabrini educators to the University in the summer of 2017. The gathering of Cabrini teachers from Argentina, Spain, and the United States in one location to share our mission, vision and hope for education was a transformation beyond our borders and our language. Together we received an education of the heart from one another and established relationships as one family, one mission, one purpose.
A Life-Changing Invitation
Our invitation today is to live with strong purpose, clear vision and unified strength to educate for the common good, to advocate for justice, to serve beyond ourselves. Those of us fortunate to work within our Cabrini ministries, schools, and university experience this transformational development – the Education of the Heart. For me, my work at Cabrini University, my connection with Cabrini Ministries around the world and my relationships with the Missionary Sisters and laity, have shaped the family around me to continually receive Mother Cabrini’s passion as defined by “her personal strength, her tenderness, and her faith.”
Beverly R. Bryde, EdD, has been teaching in higher education for over 30 years and is currently serving as the Dean for the School of Education and Associate Professor of Education at Cabrini University. She has held various postions at Cabrini University over the years in residence life, campus ministry, and academic affairs and has always been connected to the mission and Missionary Sisters since the 1980s.
What an Education of the Heart Approach Means for Cabrini High School New Orleans
Education of the Heart Means Action
Cabrini High School in New Orleans recently sent out a powerful message addressed to both their immediate Cabrini community but applicable to our Cabrini World and the world at large. Their letter confronts systemic racial inequality in the United States, highlighted by the recent killings of innocent black civilians. It clearly lays out the school’s stance against racial injustice, and for an inclusive approach that empowers their students and staff to change society for the better. Importantly the letter states how Cabrini High School is taking action to realize equality and justice within their own community.
The Story Behind Their Letter
Cabrini High School’s headteacher, Ms. Yvonne Hrapmann, explains that “our message was a timely collaboration of Cabrini staff who reflected on heartfelt messages from our alumnae and others who eloquently expressed their desire for Cabrini to be active in bringing justice and equality to the forefront of our work to educate the hearts and minds of our students, faculty, staff, and alumnae, and the broader community as Mother Cabrini would have acted. Our words were inspired from Mother Cabrini quotes, meaningful messages from other Cabrini ministries, our Cabrinian tradition, and with the insight and guidance of Cabrini High School’s No Place For Hate Club Moderator.”
Their Approach is More than What they Teach, it is What They Live
Ms. Hrapmann further elaborates that “Cabrini High School has a truly diverse student body and strong sisterhood of young women and alumnae who reflect the fabric of New Orleans culture and diversity. This dynamic uniquely positions Cabrini High School to make a difference, have difficult but necessary and important conversations, and create the opportunity for our Cabrini community to come together to listen, learn, love, lead, and grow. Ultimately Cabrini High School will provide an even stronger educational experience, one that recognizes and celebrates equity and racial inclusion, while we live out our values of respect, excellence and service.”
Cabrini High School’s letter is published on this blog site as a living example and a product of an Education of the Heart approach.
“Today, love must not be hidden … it must be living, active and true.”
— St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
Dear Cabrini Community,
Our foundress, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, the Patron Saint of Immigrants, committed her life to the dignity, development, and empowerment of God’s people, especially those who are marginalized. Cabrini High School was founded to uphold this legacy and to provide an Education of the Mind and the Heart—an education that empowers people to change society for the better.
The unjust deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many more before them, have brought systemic racism and the discrimination that people of color have faced for centuries to the forefront. Few of us can comprehend the impact of these atrocities. Our Cabrini family condemns these senseless and merciless actions, and while we cannot begin to understand the hurt, pain, and fear our African American sisters, their families, and the black community live with daily, we share their anger, passion for change, and hope for justice.
Inequality and injustice cannot be tolerated or accepted in our school, our community, or our country. Black lives matter. We must come together in the spirit of Mother Cabrini — as pilgrims on a journey that demands us to open our hearts and minds and gather others along the journey who are willing to walk, work, and sacrifice together to realize equality and justice.
We will take an honest, in-depth look at our school community, actions, relationships, and interactions. We will acknowledge our shortcomings and commit to ways we can improve for the betterment of our diverse Cabrini community.
We will create a safe space for our students, alumnae, and faculty and staff to come together and share their experiences, feelings, concerns, fears, disappointments, and desires for a future free from hate and racism and where injustice is not tolerated.
We will continue to discern, pray, and plan ways to further educate our faculty, staff, and students to raise awareness, support each other, and stand together against racism and injustice. Together, we will move forward from these tragic events and take positive steps to better ourselves and society.
At Cabrini, we are family. Family members sometimes struggle to understand each other and even struggle to get along at times. Families, however, do not give up on one another. Instead, we open our hearts and our minds. We apologize and we forgive. We listen, we learn, and we love. We grow.
The conversations ahead may be uncomfortable, the work will be difficult, and change will take work. Worthwhile, real change always does. Our commitment to self-reflect and do better is heartfelt and sincere. We know change starts with us, individually and collectively. We hope you will walk with us on this journey.
Let us continue to listen, learn, love, and live out the example of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. We are in this together.
Mother Cabrini, Pray for Us.
“Our actions flow from values found in the life and teaching of Jesus. We strive to respond to others with compassion and to serve with excellence. We seek to communicate God’s personal love in ways that touch hearts, inspire deeper relationships with God and foster the authentic human and spiritual development of ourselves and others. This is the Cabrinian mission.”
Our Call to Action
Let us within the Cabrini World encourage Cabrini High School in vocalising their stance, continuing in the good work that is before them, with an Education of the Heart approach guiding them along the way. There is a clear call to action for us in their letter too, as inequality exists in all forms wherever we may live, so let us too have open minds and open hearts to see it, and the courage to speak up and take action against such discrimination. As Mother Cabrini exhorts us, let our love be living, active and true.
~ Thank you to Cabrini High School (New Orleans) and headteacher Ms. Yvonne Hrapmann for this valuable contribution
My Reflections on Education of the Heart as Head Teacher at a Cabrinian School
By Jacintha Martin
What is ‘Education of the Heart’?
With my hand on my heart I can say that my introduction to the Cabrinian expression ‘Education of the Heart’ had a profound impact on me in my role as an educator and my life as a Christian. When I chose the parable of ‘The Lost Sheep’ to read at my first staff meeting and my first assembly, little did I know, that it would be the most relevant of the Gospels for the role I had embarked upon at St. Francesca Cabrini School in London.
‘Education of the Heart’ encapsulates what I understand to be the essence of outstanding teaching and learning. It represents for me an education of the whole child which concentrates not only on academic achievement but also on developing the child’s social, spiritual and moral character all within a setting which is built fundamentally on strong core values of Love and Respect.
When I met with new parents to introduce them to our school in London, I explained that our commitment to the ‘Education of the Heart’ of each child was in fact a commitment to look right in to the core of each individual child in order to get to know each child’s strengths, needs and character. In so doing we made a commitment to provide the most appropriate education to ensure that each child would reach their full potential academically and more importantly, alongside that, also a commitment to ensure each child grows into a responsible Christian with an understanding of their responsibility for their neighbour, their community and the world.
‘Education of the Heart’ of each child begins with the ‘Education of the Heart’ of all members of the school community and all involved in the education process. It is therefore vital that leaders and staff come together regularly to review and evaluate the mission of the school and see the important part they play. Without a shared vision and a commitment to clearly identified core values, ‘Education of the Heart’ cannot become a reality.
‘Education of the Heart’ in Action
- High-Quality Teaching
‘Education of the Heart’ is not easy. It requires high-quality teaching provided by teachers who plan rigorously for differing abilities within the class, ensuring work is differentiated according to ability which enables all pupils to excel and achieve their best. Rigorous reviews and assessment by teachers inform planning so that children move forward at a pace but are supported when a need is identified. Teachers need to really ‘know’ their pupils and see them as individuals in order to achieve this.
- Tailored for Specific Needs
The successful integration of children with specific needs was and continues to be an area of strength in St. Francesca Cabrini School in London. Children with specific needs are provided with a curriculum, resources and support tailored to their particular needs. Since this is the essence of the meaning of ‘Education of the Heart’ – getting to know and understand what each child needs to succeed – such children are integrated and achieve well in the school. A significant number of these children have communication difficulties and so great efforts were, and continue to be, made to strengthen resourcing for this group. Examples of this include:
- The decision to fund increased Speech and Language professional support.
- Before school begins daily provision of ‘The Sensory Circuit’ which provides a calming experience for these children and gives them a positive start to the day.
- Sessions on the Climbing Wall (a result of fundraising initiatives organised by the Inclusion Manager) which develops problem solving skills and increases confidence and self-esteem.
- School-funded training for a support staff member to become an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA) to better understand and support those children with emotional needs. This has provided a whole-school resource for use as and when required by pupils who were struggling emotionally for all manner of reasons such as family break-up, bereavement or ongoing behavioural needs as a result of stress or anxiety.
- School funding of a part-time Sports Coach and other sports initiatives which all played, and continue to play, an important part in building children’s confidence as well as supporting their health and wellbeing. Despite financial pressures St. Francesca Cabrini School saw the benefits and has continued to fund this important resource.
These initiatives give some insight into the importance the school places on developing children’s confidence and self-esteem. We have found these measures help pupils overcome barriers to their learning whist letting them know there is always someone who will help them deal with their difficulties.
- Support to Adult Members of the School Community to Fulfil the Mission
The Annual Mission Development Day for all adult members of the school community, including Sisters, is a key day in the school calendar and indicates the importance placed on ensuring all teachers and staff review and examine the important part each play in the ‘Education of the Heart’. All adult members of the school community come together to reaffirm their commitment to a shared vision.
- Children Inspired in their Personal Role in Reaching Others
The annual Pupils’ Mission Day gives children the opportunity to reflect on the life of St Francesca Cabrini and her work which is continued by The Missionary Sisters today as well as understand the role they have in supporting those who are less fortunate and in need. This reminds children of their place in the world and their responsibility and role as ‘little missionaries’.
- Valuing our Leaders
The role of the Leaders, of course, is important in any institution. The style of leadership in a ‘Cabrinian’ institution is quite special and the key to this is to lead by example. All relationships with parents, all staff, as well as children must be based on Love and Respect. Whilst expectations must be high, all members of the community must feel loved and respected. How else can we expect children to ‘learn’ or feel loved and respected? It is difficult to quantify what this actually means in reality, but you know it and you feel it when it is there. So many staff have come to the school and immediately have felt a distinctive ‘charism’ and been surprised that there is such unity in the staff. Many have described their experiences in other schools as confrontational or toxic and some have experienced bullying and prejudice. At the school in London all staff are valued, and more importantly they feel valued, and as a result are committed and hardworking.
How Does ‘Education of the Heart’ Make a Difference in Raising and Shaping a Child for Today’s World?
‘Education of the Heart’ is the difference between a mediocre education and an outstanding one.
A child who benefits from high-quality teaching founded on a child-centred approach provided in an atmosphere of Love and Respect, will be a child who grows up to be a hardworking, respectful individual and one who recognises and celebrates the differences in others, yet remains confident and secure in their own identity. This child will grow with a desire to make the most of their own life, recognising a responsibility and a desire to support and show compassion to others.
It is of the utmost importance that educators work to develop the whole child to take their place in an everchanging world, which will present them with many challenges. We must educate our children to believe that they can solve problems peacefully and can overcome barriers. Children must be empowered to believe that they can make a difference.
How Can Schools Strengthen Their ‘Education of the Heart’ Approach?
The key is firstly to ensure all teachers and staff understand ‘Education of the Heart’ and share a commitment to it. Practically this means:
- Going the extra mile by placing the child at the centre of education efforts.
- Sharing an understanding of how best children learn.
- School leaders understanding how to get the best out of all staff.
Identified core values are an important foundation but they cannot just be words in a Mission Statement. Love and Respect must be ‘living’ and be embedded and permeate all aspects of the life of the school. Anything less must be challenged. This requires dedication from all leaders and staff. Efforts to improve academic results and climb up the league tables must not detract from the important role we as educators have to ‘Educate the Heart’ of the child. That is not to say that these things are not important, of course they are, but not at the expense of love and respect. Indeed, if we show Love and Respect to each child, we will be driven by a desire to ensure each individual child will achieve their very best in all areas.
‘Education of the Heart’ is the greatest challenge of all in education and whilst this is being discussed in the context of a ’Cabrinian’ school, it is an excellent model for all schools.
Jacintha Martin has been teaching since 1976 and spent the majority of years teaching in inner city London schools. She was appointed as Head of St Francesca Cabrini Primary School in London in 1992 and this was her second headship. During her time as Head at Cabrini she was inspired and then became driven by the Charism of Cabrini. Although retired now from her Headteacher role she considers herself still as an active member of the Cabrinian family.
What is MSC Education of the Heart?
By Dr Maria Williams, with thanks to Sister Giuditta Pala MSC, General Archive, Rome
The Ideal and Principles
The ideal of MSC Education of the Heart is to learn to love as Jesus asked: ‘love one another as I have loved you’ (John 15:12). This is central to the full growth of the learner, created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). Mother Cabrini identified three inter-related aspects of this growth: the cognitive, the creative and the moral. In the 1881 aim for schools, she expressed this simply:
‘The aim of the Institute in these schools is to furnish the mind of the pupils with cognitive and ornamental competencies in order to have the opportunity to form their hearts to the love of Religion and the practice of virtue. The teaching will be adjusted to meet the needs of those being taught’ (Regola dell’Istituto, p.25).
Three fundamental principles of MSC Education of the Heart are evident:
1 Activities to promote cognitive and ornamental or creative development are opportunities for moral formation in love and virtue.
2 This moral formation is inseparable from spirituality. By ‘the love of Religion’ Mother Cabrini means the love of God, known in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
3 Teaching is learner-centred, adjusted to the needs of the individual.
Education of the Heart also needs ‘gentleness and strength’ as Mother Cabrini identified these as virtues necessary for all MSC work:
‘Do all this with gentleness and strength as the Sacred Heart would want and our Patron Saint Francis de Sales taught’ (Regola dell’Istituto, p.3).
A Lived Tradition of Practice
Mother Cabrini did not write a treatise explaining how to practise Education of the Heart. With the early MSC sisters, she commenced a lived tradition of practice. It was their way to bring the love they had received from the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the world. Their ideal and principles were ancient. The urban contexts in which they applied them were new. This was a significant contribution to Catholic educational practice in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Today, MSC Sisters and laity continue to educate the heart, finding contemporary applications of these principles, often using the latest ‘apps’!
Dr Maria Williams is an alumna of St Francesca Cabrini School, London. She recently completed her PhD, ‘The Contribution of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini to Catholic Educational Practice 1880-1918’.
Educating Minds and Forming Hearts for Global Citizenship
By Sr. Maria Eliane Azevedo da Silva, MSC
Education of the Heart, the Essence of Being Cabrinian
In a time of pandemic, the Cabrinian proposal of “Education of the Heart”, as an integral formation of the human being, opens the way for an important reflection on the Meaning of Life and the Care for Life of all.
Mother Cabrini highlighted in her educational practice the care for the person in their human, physical, spiritual, intellectual and social dimensions. For her, there were no boundaries in loving and caring for people. This comes through in her expression “instructing minds, forming hearts … to be good Christians and good citizens”.
Education of the Heart, our Great Invitation, our Calling and our Guide
In the time of Laudato Si and in the celebrations of these five years of the publication of Pope Francis’ Encyclical, “Education of the Heart” is an invitation for each educator, each student, each family, to recognize that we are children of the same land, brothers of all in the great mission of taking care of the “Common Home”.
In order to face this pandemic and the consequences that affect both the inner and outter person, “Education of Heart” points us in the direction towards God, the Creator of all things and all of us. The spiritual dimension is the starting point in developing the ability of self-knowledge, resilience, empathy, and the ability to constantly live in the movement from the “I” to the “we”. Everything is connected and we are just a thread in the web of life.
Education of the Heart, Fundamental Elements
In this time, I’d like to share with you three thoughts that I consider fundamental in educating the heart:
- We cultivate the spiritual dimension and the meaning of life: We exist for the Love of God and we go through the earthly journey to reveal to all that we are daughters and sons of the same human society, called to take care of our “Common House”. Let us intensify the practice of prayer, because as Pope Francis said “Prayer is the first door of hope”.
- We cultivate the relational dimension: We are people created to be towards others, and with others we weave learnings and strengthen ourselves as a global community. Let us cultivate a mindset of positivity, even in dark times.
- Let us cultivate the human and social dimension: Let us take care of the health of our body and our mind. Let us take care of our social health. Let us become aware of our personal and social responsibility: what I think, what I do, and how I live, here and now has consequences for me. Let us recognize that this pandemic is an opportunity to bring about something new in favor of the humanization of life on the planet.
Dear readers, the current crisis challenges us to let the Spirit of God make us more humble, more fraternal, more human, and more of His Heart for a humanized and better world. Let us always repeat the Pauline phrase that Mother Cabrini adopted as her life motto:
“I can do everything in Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4,13).
The blessings of God to everyone!
More coming soon!
More coming soon!
More coming soon!
More coming soon!
More coming soon!