A religious congregation of priests and lay brothers with the object of promoting the knowledge and practice of devotion to the Heart of Jesus as embodied in the revelations of Our Lord to Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque, and of offering personal reparation to the Divine Heart. The society's motto is, "Ametur ubique terrarum Cor Jesu Sacratissimum" (May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be loved everywhere). It was founded at Issoudun, in the Archdiocese of Bourges , France, by the Abbé Jules Chevalier. Until very recent years the mother house was in the above-named town, but since the separation of Church and State in France the society has its headquarters in Rome. The origin of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart is closely connected with the Papal definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the B. V. M., the means to lay their foundation being the outcome of special prayers addressed to the Mother of God during the nine days preceding the great religious event of 8 Dec., 1854. The founder had pledged himself to honor the Blessed Virgin in a special manner. He redeemed his promise the following year by erecting a shrine dedicated to the honor of the Blessed Virgin under the title of "Our Lady of the Sacred Heart ".
In 1864 an association of prayer was founded which has since been honored with the official title of Universal Archconfraternity of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, and enriched with numerous indulgences. The central governing body is at Rome, with local directors in various countries. The official centre for the United States is at Watertown, New York; those for other English-speaking countries are at Glastonbury, Somerset, England ; Sydney, New South Wales, and Cork, where the society's first house in Ireland was founded, and an ecclesiastical college opened, in 1909.
On 2 Oct. 1867, an apostolic school was founded by Father Vandel at Chezal-Benoit in France, with twelve pupils. It grew and prospered, and in course of time other similar institutions arose in different countries. From these the priests of the society are chiefly recruited. The work is represented in the United States by St. Joseph's Apostolic School at Watertown, N. Y.
The personnel of the society is composed of 825 professed religious, with provincial houses in Italy, Germany, Holland, Australia, and a Provincial Superior residing in Paris, who rules over the dispersed members of the French Province, and its establishments in Switzerland ; Belgium ; Canada -- Quebec; Beauport, Province of Quebec ; South Qu'Appelle, Medicine Hat, Saskatchewan, and North Cobalt, Ont.
The Fathers at Quebec direct the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, publish the Annals, its monthly bulletin, and conduct five missions and retreats. They also have a public chapel. The novitiate for Canada and the States is at Beauport. The other Canadian communities are engaged in parochial and missionary work. In England, besides Glastonbury, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have communities at St. Albans , Herfordshire, and at Braintree, Essex. They engage in parish work and act as chaplains.
In the United States the Society has communities at Watertown, N. Y.; Natick, R. I.; Onawa and Sioux City, Iowa ; Cazenovia, Wis., this last being a dependency of the German Province; the first four form an American Quasi-Province with headquarters at Natick. In all these places the Fathers have charge of parishes, except those at Sioux City, who preach missions, supply the places of absent priests, and assist the clergy. The Natick community supplies chaplains to St. Joseph's Hospital for tubercular patients at Hills Grove, and to the Rhode Island State charitable and correctional institutions at Howard, Cranston, and Sackanosset.
For the past quarter of a century the efforts of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart have been expended chiefly in foreign mission fields. On 1 Sept., 1881, three Fathers set out from Barcelona for the South Sea Islands at the request of Leo XIII , and established a station in New Britain -- now New Pomerania. To-day the priests and brothers doing missionary work in divers islands and archipelagoes of the South Pacific number upward of 300, exclusive of the new mission lately opened in Mindanao, Philippine Islands -- where thirty or more apostolic laborers from the Dutch Province are already employed -- and the vast territory comprised in the diocese of Port Victoria and Palmerston, South Australia, in charge of Father F. X. Gsell as Administrator Apostolic, with residence at Port Darwin. The Bishop of Ponso-Alegre has just entrusted the direction of his episcopal college to the congregation.
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