Sacred Heart Brothers’ Giant Footprints

By Dylan Rhoton, Guest Column
Brother Martin High

Throughout the first quarter, my classmates and I have learned the history of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, who founded Brother Martin, and their current effect on us. Pairing with what we have learned about the Brothers in our religion class, the Eighth Grade Day of Reflection took place at St. Stanislaus College, a Brothers’ school in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

We were presented the question: “What does it mean to me that God loves me?”

I thought about this, carefully considering each facet of my answer. We first began as we do all things at Brother Martin, in prayer. Randy Hernandez, the great-nephew of Sacred Heart Brother Martin Hernandez, then discussed the symbol of the Sacred Heart and its importance. I reflected on how the flame in the heart represents the eternal burning love that God has for me and how this affects my spirituality and faith life.

I found one of the most moving parts of our experience to be the Brothers’ graveyard.

My class has been learning about the Brothers for six weeks, with an emphasis on the first five who journeyed from France. I was in awe when it came time for us to see their graves’ because I felt as if I was truly in the presence of a special history. I loved the feeling of being there alongside the people who dedicated their lives to my peers and me. After this moving moment, we heard  testimonials from teachers and upperclassmen about their high school experience; these speeches accentuated the love I feel for Brother Martin. It was inspiring to see where community members have come from and where they are now.

The most beautiful part of our journey was walking out to the pier over Bay St. Louis with a reflection worksheet about our lives in relation to our founder Father André Coindre’s life and the Holy Spirit. Feeling the cool breeze and seeing the waves crashing onto shore made me feel like I belong. The pier was prayerful and serene – probably the best example of what it means to reflect.

We drove back to Brother Martin, and Father Sidney Shields celebrated Mass. I must say it might have been one of the best I have ever attended. Father Shields was energetic and full of zeal, which is, coincidentally, how Father André Coindre is described. The Mass was a great way to link the whole day and end it on a high note. This retreat was a phenomenal experience that I will remember for years, especially because of its ties to the Brothers and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Coming back to the big concluding question, I think that God truly has a plan for me which involves strong growth in my spirituality as I start my five years at Brother Martin High.

– Dylan Rhoton ’24