We Speak Their Names

Middle and Upper School students participated in the annual “We Speak Your Names” prayer service in their advisory groups and assembly yesterday morning, respectively. “We Speak Your Names” is a solemn time when the names of enslaved people who were bought and sold by the Society of the Sacred Heart in Louisiana at Grand Coteau, St. Michael's Convent, and the School of the Religious of the Sacred Heart in Natchitoches are read aloud. The service was first observed on September 23, 2018, as a result of the Religious of the Sacred Heart’s (RSCJ) process of reconciliation. This practice restores the dignity of these individuals as the Society partners with the descendants of the enslaved people to work toward reconciliation. Middle and Upper School students were led in deepening their understanding of the RSCJ’s history and what it means for them as members of the Sacred Heart community, embodying the heart of Christ in today’s world.

As part of the Middle School service, students focused on the importance of reconciliation, the act of restoring peace and justice when people—even saints—make choices that have lasting consequences. Sometimes, these consequences must be reconciled in the absence of those who caused them, as with the RSCJ’s history of participating in the sin of slavery. The students discussed why it is essential to pause, reflect on these mistakes, and begin the process of healing, especially in the face of such painful events. They also reflected on how this healing process reminds us of God's presence in our world today.

In Upper School, students explored how the assembly connects to this year’s DEI theme, “Unity, Solidarity, and Community” and investigated how the Sacred Heart community works to further the Society’s Goals in light of this history. Students shared the importance of the prayer service as an act of humanity and restoring human dignity to the enslaved people. By saying their names, they exist—much like when loved ones pass away—we keep their memory alive and give their lives meaning. The students highlighted that though they can’t fully understand what it means to be a descendant of the enslaved people, the service offers space to grow empathy and compassion.

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion