Posted June 28, 2021

Personal Reflection
Sarah Thomas, Head of School
Marymount Paris

At Marymount Paris, Sr Marion Shanahan meets monthly with the Head and Senior Leadership Team to discuss Pere Gailhac’s charism and faith vision. Her  conversations have shown us the power of storytelling to infuse a community with a shared mission. It is our responsibility now to ensure that mission continues to thrive in the century that lies ahead.

Sr Marion Shanahan, RSHM, Photo of journey of growth

As we begin preparations for the centenary of Marymount Paris in 2023, the journey back in time to the roots of the RSHM is a starting point for a roadmap for the next hundred years.  After one of the most challenging years in our school’s history, we knew that this year would be a return to what is most essential: a retour aux sources – a return to the essence of who we are, an opportunity to contemplate and incorporate Marymount’s guiding principles and reignite the fire in our students that inspires them to learn and seek knowledge. That is Marymount’s unique strength. A deeper understanding of Pere Gailhac’s unique charism and vision of educating the whole child, infused through the RSHM to the modern incarnation of our schools today, has been a deeply meaningful spiritual exercise for me and my team.

Pere Gailhac wrote to the Beziers community about the source of his zeal:

“From my childhood, God has put within me a great love for others. That is the underlying reason for the works that he has given me to do for I never undertook anything unless God directed me to do so.”

On a personal level, the experience of examining Pere Gailhac’s childhood, his calling and life as a priest, his relationships with the men and women who influenced him, his letters, has helped clarify how this zeal and love for others has manifested in a legacy that has lasted well over 100 years and thrives more than ever in the possibilities afforded to our students..

Following Pere Gailhac’s journey has contributed to my own personal journey of leadership as I reflect upon my intersecting roles as a Catholic, a lay-head of school, an educator, a woman and mother.

Pere Gailhac has this remarkable ability to oscillate between a clear articulation of faith and vision, and concrete daily practice.  He showed us that the day-to-day operations are a key component of the leadership of a visionary school. God is very much in the detail, and Pere Gailhac’s words have reminded me that it is so important to be self-aware and conscious that we have the power to create the world around us with every decision we make, and how we react or act in a certain way.   Careful attention to detail and sensitive observation and understanding of the human spirit, and especially the spirit of children, is vital if we are to consistently do what is best for all our students – regardless of how long they are with us.  This commitment requires me to step outside of my contextual reality, seek meaning, and constantly strive to be more aware of my surroundings. In doing so, I am more in touch with the small but pivotal ways that I am called to bring Gailhac’s vision to life in my own behavior, decisions and actions so that the RSHM educational vision continues to spread its roots and cultivate educators and students who diffuse the charism in the years to come.

Photo of Sarah and team members



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