Intertwining Vines: 


The Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education, Themes of Catholic Social Teaching and NAIS Principles of Good Practice for Equity and Justice 


This document grounds the rationale for diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) practices and initiatives at Convent of the Sacred Heart, 91st Street in the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education, Themes of Catholic Social Teaching and the National Association for Independent Schools’ (NAIS) Principles of Good Practice for Equity and Justice. The intent of this document is to illuminate how our identities as a Catholic, independent and Sacred Heart School intertwine to root our DEI program.

We are a community animated by the love of God symbolized in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an image that invites us to think and act with awareness, humility, empathy, solidarity and care in relationship with all. We are guided by the Attitudes of Christ’s Heart exemplified in the Beatitudes and called to the prophetic service of justice and mercy for all, especially people living in poverty and alienation. The School’s DEI vision and program enhance the life and dignity of the human person, center those at the margins and, above all, pursue justice rooted in love. 


Like vines, the Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education, themes of Catholic Social Teaching and NAIS DEI best practices intertwine and root our DEI commitment in the following ways: 

Goal I: A personal and active faith in God serves as the foundation for the work of equity and belonging at Sacred Heart. To educate students to actively participate in their spiritual lives, we create an infrastructure that nurtures a sense of belonging and an ethos of hope, locating every individual in a relational web of compassion, love and faith. In prayer, we find stillness, open our hearts, and listen and speak with God. Through contemplation and action, we experience God's love and greet the face of God in one another; we cultivate equity with intention. We educate students to interiority, reflection, self-awareness and discernment so that they may act in accordance with their faith both within our community and beyond. 

Goal II: The foundations of Catholic Social Teaching were laid out by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 in a push to read the ‘signs of the times’ and pursue justice in new ways that faced the wider world. Today, when developing dynamic curricula that educate students to a deep respect for intellectual values, we continue to draw from Sacred Heart and Catholic Social Teaching traditions. Intellectual pursuits have a high moral goal, which is to apply critical thinking, analytic skills, ethical judgement and creativity in pursuit of the common good. Sacred Heart educators and students commit to lifelong learning and intercultural competence—critical foundations in the ever-evolving and advancing fight for human dignity, equity and justice. Illuminated by research and evaluation, training and support, members of the professional community and students grow to exemplify the theory and practice of Catholic Social Teaching. 

Goal III: Our reading of the ‘signs of the times’ is grounded in Goal III: Schools of the Sacred Heart educate to a social awareness which impels to action. Specifically, we look to Criterion 3, which states, “The school, drawing from Catholic Social Teaching, educates students to analyze and work to eradicate social structures, practices, systems, and values that perpetuate racism and other injustices.” Goal III calls us to immerse students in diverse perspectives and develop language facility and cultural literacy. We educate to a shared responsibility for God’s sacred creation and the global climate crisis. In solidarity, we engage in direct service, advocacy, outreach and partnerships, and promote informed, active citizenship—all in pursuit of justice, peace and the integrity of an interdependent world. 

Goal IV: Our commitment to educate to the building of community is an expression of the wider Catholic tradition of which we are a part; our sacramental view of the world holds that the Body of Christ is composed of people. As a school in the Sacred Heart tradition, we find it important to recognize the centrality of equity and belonging in integrating all of our members into this body—and in ensuring that this body attracts and centers students and professionals of diverse identities, races, ethnicities, faiths and backgrounds. Our commitment to recruit and retain an inclusive community reaffirms Catholic Social Teaching’s call to family, community and participation in a just society. Outward expressions of accountability include but are not limited to mechanisms for learning and communion, leadership development, staffing, resourcing, data collection and analysis, policy development and messaging across constituencies. Adults model, teach and practice direct and open communication, conflict management and peace-making with a spirit of love, reconciliation and non-violence. Affirming that all are created in the image and likeness of God, the School promotes the inherent dignity of the human person in an atmosphere of interdependence and mutual respect.

Goal V: Educating to personal growth in an atmosphere of wise freedom requires us to cultivate introspection and interiority, a precondition of social awareness. Members of the community pursue personal growth and well-being within a dynamic network animated by love, hope and pluralism. Criterion 1 calls adults and students to “grow in courage and confidence as they discover new abilities, cultivate strengths, learn from mistakes, develop empathy and exercise resilience in meeting challenges.” In sustaining relationships, we practice generosity, share joy and build stamina. Wise freedom requires a reciprocity between freedom and accountability, individually and in relationship with the global society and environment. Educators, students and alumnae of the Sacred Heart freely turn toward justice, grace and love, co-creating an atmosphere of dignity, reverence and respect.


We hope this rationale helps to clarify how the DEI program at 91st Street is derived from the mission of Sacred Heart education, Catholic Social Teaching and established DEI principles of good practice, and that it helps all who read it to cultivate new shoots and fruits of these vines. We invite you to learn more about how Vines came to be and how you can adapt it for your own use here