Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Thoughts on Mother Aloysia Hardey
These were found on the Greenwich Sacred Heart school website last May and seem a fitting introduction to the life of Mother Hardey. Since I am at present reading another life of this great religious, I thought I would share some thoughts about her with you, beginning with these copied from Greewich:
Born in Prince George’s County, Maryland in December, 1809 and baptized as Mary Ann Hardey, Mother Hardey’s life and work spanned one of the most progressive and turbulent eras of American history, the mid-nineteenth century
Her life’s journey, which lasted until her death in Paris in 1886, took her from Maryland to Louisiana, to New York, the mid-west, Canada, Cuba, London, Paris and Rome.
Her influence as an educator was profound, for as a woman ahead of her time, she worked untiringly on behalf of educational advancement for ALL women, rich and poor. With unflagging energy and courage, she established Sacred Heart schools in places as diverse as New York City, Detroit, Rochester, Halifax, Buffalo and Havana, Cuba, among others. Our own school(Greenwich) was founded directly by Mother Hardey; in fact, we have catalogs listing her name, many Annual Letters in which our school is featured, and even copies of letters she wrote to students’ parents, some of which have been on display on numerous occasions in our display case downstairs.
One author writes that Mother Hardey’s greatest talent as an educator lay in her ability to adapt the essential qualities of Sacred Heart education to the needs of the times. She truly laid the foundation for what we at Greenwich do so well today. She was a firm believer in advancement and progress in women’s education, and once stated that “education begins with the hearts; it molds the character and enlightens the mind. Understand well that your own education will never be finished.”
As the direct foundress of our school, founded downtown on Houston Street in 1848, Mother Hardey dedicated the school to St. Michael, the Archangel, believing that his greatness would always protect and influence those who study and work at our school. She imbued the students at Houston Street with a love for learning and a spirit of generosity. She told the students and religious that “Faith must find its expression in works…remember that only the prayer of the heart reaches heaven.”
In all endeavors, Mother Hardey progressed with courage and faith. Her vision of women’s education began with faith and continues until this day, not only here on the beautiful campus at Greenwich, but in every one of our sister schools around the country.