132 years of life and mission in Aberdeen


In this account we acknowledge and

give a snapshot of appreciation for the

132 years of life and mission of rscj in Aberdeen

Mass of Thanksgiving, Society of the Sacred Heart, Aberdeen 2nd July 2017

 1895 -  2017

aberdeen community

The Aberdeen Community, Alda Civiera, Margaret Pope and Catherine Laughlin, welcomed the Provincial Team, several RSCJ from the Scottish region, past pupils, associates, colleagues and friends to a special Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated by Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB in the Cathedral on Saturday 1st July to mark the closure of the Society’s 122 years involvement in the city.  Sister Barbara Duffy gave the word of welcome on behalf of the Society. 


nan ethelaldaetc
                                                        RSCJ  past pupils of Aberdeen 
Alda Civiera, Veronica Ranaghan Ethel Lamont, Nan MacKinnon and Monica McDonald, Veronica Ranaghan rscj and past pupil Norma Guilianotti arriving for the Mass.                                                                                                                                   


Extracts from the Homily by Bishop Hugh  Gilbert OSB Mass of Farewell and Thanksgiving in Aberdeen Cathedral

“Forgive me mentioning a curious detail: in 1895, it was a Bishop Hugh MacDonald – a religious – who welcomed the Religious of the Sacred Heart to Aberdeen, and now, 122 years later, it is a Bishop Hugh – also a religious – who bids them farewell.  

If I remember rightly, the first Scottish approach from the Society of the Sacred Heart was to the parish of Nairn. The matter came to the Bishop’s attention. He wrote to the nuns: there’s no point preaching to fish: come to Aberdeen.’ Bishop Hugh was bishop for eight years and once remarked that inviting these Sisters to Aberdeen was the best thing he did.

Eucharistically, we first remember and give thanks for all that the Religious of the Sacred Heart have contributed to the diocese (and beyond). It has been much. This was their first foundation in Scotland and surely opened the way to others. They greatly aided the reviving devotion to our Lady of Aberdeen here.  There is, the now flourishing St Joseph’s School, and until 1971 the memorable Secondary School for Girls, the Convent of the Sacred Heart. Then in the following years, came a diversity of apostolates: spiritual direction, prayerful reading of Scripture, and retreats in daily life, ecumenical connections, and work with students especially through the University, English teaching, and the support of the Former Pupils Association – many forms of discreet, intelligent and gracious presence. And many things that go beyond human notice.

I was blessed with an unusual Novice Master, he recommended me to read Maud Monahan’s biography of Janet Erskine Stuart. This kindled in me a lasting admiration for this great figure, born in 1857, dying in 1914. Janet Stuart was a convert to Catholicism at 21 and became a Religious of the Sacred Heart and eventually a Superior General of the Society. Above all, she was a spiritual teacher of distinction and a far-seeing and progressive educator.   At the time of the Queen’s Cross foundation in 1895, she was closely involved.  She said:

We must remember that each of our children is destined for a mission in life. Neither we nor they can know what it is, but we must know and make them believe that each of them has a mission in life and that she is bound to find out what it is, that there is some special work for God which will remain undone unless she does it, some place in life which no one else can fill.’   

Echoes of Cardinal Newman’s famous reflection there! This is surely the heart – the Sacred Heart, dare one say – of what we are thanking God for today. Thanks to the presence, dedication, prayer and work of the Religious of the Sacred Heart, how many here in the north east have been helped to find and live their unique God-given mission in life!  How much their ‘former pupils’ have given to family, society and in the Church! One symbol is above us: the six reliefs in the nave of this church by the fine sculptor Anne Davidson, née Ross. Praise to the Heart of Jesus Christ for that!

So, in this Eucharist, yes, we give thanks for all that the Society of the Sacred Heart has brought to this corner of Scotland. Farewells are sad affairs, but we trust too that the Lord will continue to set his heart on us and give us life. Amen.”

Bishop Hugh Gilbert OSB

bishophughgilbert homily

Words of appreciation received:
I was looking forward to being with you at your farewell Mass to give thanks for all that you and the Sacred Heart Order has done here for so many years, but unfortunately I am un-well.  (Fr. Stuart Chalmers, Vicar General of the Diocese.)

Rubislaw Guild has enjoyed your friendship over several years and is very happy indeed to accept your kind invitation to share in the Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Huntly Street. A number of Guild members would like to attend; between ten and twelve of us.   (Members of the Rubislaw Church Guild Church of Scotland).

We are extremely sorry that you are leaving Aberdeen.....  I thoroughly enjoyed my teaching time at the Convent; we shall certainly miss your charming company at our Guild parties. 

A general feeling of thanksgiving and gratitude for many blessings. My husband and I certainly have very happy memories of our children’s time at St. Joseph’s, they were very happy there.

We thank you for your wonderful contribution and all your work during your years in Aberdeen.   We consider ourselves very fortunate and blessed to have met and known you.

Sorry to hear you are leaving Aberdeen after such a long time living and working in the city.  My daughter Louise spent eight happy years at St. Joseph’.   I finished my teaching career at the school.  One of my roles there was as the school’s representative of the Sacred Heart Network of Scotland and Ireland. (Julia Clark (née Stewart) was educated at Kilgraston).

I will be joining you all in spirit and thanking God for all the hard work the Society has done in Aberdeen.  Like me, so many former pupils are grateful for the training we received at Queen’s Cross.  How many memories we all cherish.    (Jean Findlater)

It is sad the Sacred Heart nuns and Queen’s Cross have come to an end of their time in Aberdeen.  I was always happy to have been first a pupil and then a member of the Former Pupils.   (Jean Johnstone aged 96.  She travelled down from Fochabers to be with us at the Thanksgiving Mass).

I am so sorry to hear the news.  I am 86 years old now and sadly will not manage the trip to Aberdeen. My Mum also attended the Convent (with Mother Paterson) and my sister Stella too, so we have a long history of Queen’s Cross.    (Doris M. Gauld, née O’Connor).

It is sad that the Society of the Sacred Heart has to come to an end in Aberdeen.

Happy memories of your support, kindness and encouragement through many happy years.  May the Sacred Heart bless and keep each of you close to Him. (Sr. Anthony, a sister of Nazareth, who taught in St. Joseph’s Primary school for many years).

1st July will be a very sad day.  I loved school and loved the nuns and although one or two were very strict they were very fair!  I actually wished I could have been a boarder but that was not to be.   (Margaret Mackie, former pupil, now in Oman).