Missionaries of the Sacred Heart

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Missionaries of the Sacred Heart
Formation8 December 1854;164 years ago (1854-12-08)
Founder Jules Chevalier
Type Catholic religious congregation
Mario Abzalón Alvarado Tovar
Website www.misacor.org OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (MSC; Latin : Missionarii Sacratissimi Cordis; French : Missionnaires du Sacré-Coeur) are a missionary congregation in the Catholic Church. It was founded in 1854 by Servant of God Jules Chevalier(1824-1907) at Issoudun, France, in the Diocese of Bourges.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Missionary member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism

A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to promote their faith or perform ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin missionem, meaning "act of sending" or mittere, meaning "to send". The word was used in light of its biblical usage; in the Latin translation of the Bible, Christ uses the word when sending the disciples to preach The gospel in his name. The term is most commonly used for Christian missions, but can be used for any creed or ideology.

A religious congregation is a type of religious institute in the Catholic Church. They are legally distinguished from religious orders — the other major type of religious institute — in that members take simple vows, whereas members of religious orders take solemn vows.


Jules Chevalier, the founder of the Chevalier Family, had a vision of a new world emerging and he wanted to make known the Gospel message of God's love and care for all men and women and to evoke a response in every human heart. He especially valued love, concern, compassion, understanding, respect and acceptance of every individual. His vision was based on the words of Jesus:

The Chevalier Family is an informal group of Roman Catholic religious congregations founded or inspired by Jules Chevalier.

Gospel description of the life of Jesus, canonical or apocryphal

Gospel originally meant the Christian message itself, but in the 2nd century it came to be used for the books in which the message was set out. The four canonical gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—were probably written between AD 66 and 110, building on older sources and traditions, and each gospel has its own distinctive understanding of Jesus and his divine role. All four are anonymous, and it is almost certain that none were written by an eyewitness. They are the main source of information on the life of Jesus as searched for in the quest for the historical Jesus. Modern scholars are cautious of relying on them unquestioningly, but critical study attempts to distinguish the original ideas of Jesus from those of the later authors. Many non-canonical gospels were also written, all later than the four, and all, like them, advocating the particular theological views of their authors.

I give you a new commandment, love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples. [John 13:34 ff]

The motto of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart is: May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be loved everywhere! [1] The priests, deacons and brothers of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart are known as MSCs (from the Latin, Missionarii Sacratissimi Cordis). As with most religious congregations in the Catholic Church there is significant involvement on the part of the laity, who may also serve on the missions. The international headquarters is in Rome with numerous communities throughout the world. [2]

In the New Testament, a presbyter is a leader of a local Christian congregation. The word derives from the Greek presbyteros, which means elder or senior. The Greek word episkopos literally means overseer; it refers exclusively to the office of bishop. Many understand presbyteros to refer to the bishop functioning as overseer. In modern Catholic and Orthodox usage, presbyter is distinct from bishop and synonymous with priest. In predominant Protestant usage, presbyter does not refer to a member of a distinctive priesthood called priests, but rather to a minister, pastor, or elder.

Deacon ministry in the Christian Church

A deacon is a member of the diaconate, an office in Christian churches that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions. Major Christian churches, such as the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican church, view the diaconate as part of the clerical state.

A lay brother is a member of a religious order, particularly in the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church, who fulfills a role focused upon manual service and secular matters, and is distinguished from a choir monk or friar whose primary role is to pray in choir. In female religious institutes, the equivalent role is the lay sister. In male religious institutes, lay brothers are additionally distinguished from choir religious in that they do not receive holy orders and are therefore not clerics. Lay brother and lay sisters roles were originally created to allow those who were skilled in particular crafts or did not have the required education to study for holy orders to participate in and contribute to the life of a religious order.


Jules Chevalier Abbe Jules Chevalier.jpg
Jules Chevalier

The origin of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart is closely connected with the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The means to lay their foundation being the outcome of special prayers addressed to the Mother of God during the nine days preceding event of 8 December 1854. The founder had pledged himself to honour the Blessed Virgin in a special manner. Chevalier fulfilled his promise the following year by erecting a shrine dedicated to the honour of Mary under the title of "Our Lady of the Sacred Heart ". [3]

Immaculate Conception Catholic doctrine that Mary was conceived free from original sin

In Christian theology, the Immaculate Conception is the conception of the Virgin Mary free from original sin by virtue of the merits of her son Jesus. The Catholic Church teaches that God acted upon Mary in the first moment of her conception, keeping her "immaculate".

In 1864 he founded the Archconfraternity of the Sacred Heart and sought to have it established in every parish as a means to develop devotion to, and appreciation of, the love that Christ bears all people. In 1867, the Congregation opened its first school in Chezal-Benoît in the Centre Region of France.

A confraternity is generally a Christian voluntary association of lay people created for the purpose of promoting special works of Christian charity or piety, and approved by the Church hierarchy. They are most common among Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans and the Western Orthodox. When a confraternity has received the authority to aggregate to itself groups erected in other localities, it is called an archconfraternity. An example is the Confraternity of the Rosary.

Chezal-Benoît Commune in Centre-Val de Loire, France

Chezal-Benoît is a commune in the Cher department in the Centre-Val de Loire region of France.

France Republic with majority of territory in Europe and numerous oversea territories around the world

France, officially the French Republic, is a sovereign state whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

In September 1881, at the request of Pope Leo XIII the Congregation sent its first missionaries overseas. From Barcelona three missionaries set out for Papua New Guinea and founded the first overseas mission in 1882 near Rabaul on the island of New Britain.

Barcelona City and municipality in Catalonia

Barcelona is a city in Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighbouring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area and Milan. It is one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 metres high.

Papua New Guinea Constitutional monarchy in Oceania

Papua New Guinea, officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea is a country in Oceania that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and its offshore islands in Melanesia, a region of the southwestern Pacific Ocean north of Australia. Its capital, located along its southeastern coast, is Port Moresby. The western half of New Guinea forms the Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua. It is the world's 3rd largest island country with 462,840 km2 (178,700 sq mi).

Rabaul Place in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Rabaul is a township in East New Britain province, on the island of New Britain, in the country of Papua New Guinea. It lies about 600 kilometres to the east of the island of New Guinea. Rabaul was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption in its harbor.

Between 1927 and 1937 Rev Charles Gouffe, Rev Patrick Long, Rev John Tuomey, Rev William Tynan, Rev William Barrow, Rev Patrick Lennane and Rev Michael Nealon served the parish of St Anne's RC Church at Ugthorpe, North Yorkshire. Three priests from The Missionaries of The Sacred Heart..jpg
Between 1927 and 1937 Rev Charles Gouffe, Rev Patrick Long, Rev John Tuomey, Rev William Tynan, Rev William Barrow, Rev Patrick Lennane and Rev Michael Nealon served the parish of St Anne's RC Church at Ugthorpe, North Yorkshire.

In 1885, a supply base for the Papua New Guinea mission was founded in Sydney, Australia and the Australian Province was established in 1905. [4] The Australian province was active in missionary work to Australian Aborigines [5] and published the long-running magazine of Catholic culture Annals Australasia . The Congregation continued to grow and established provinces in the Netherlands (1894), the United States (1939), Spain (1946), Ireland (1952), Indonesia (1971) and the Dominican Republic (1986). [6]


As members of a religious congregation, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart embrace the evangelical counsels, taking the three traditional religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Poverty means that all possessions are held in common and that no member may accumulate wealth. Chastity means more than abstaining from sexual activity and its purpose is to make the religious totally available for service; it is also a sign that only God can completely fill the human heart. For a member of a religious congregation, obedience is not slavishly doing what one is told by the superior but being attentive to God’s will by prayerfully listening to the voice of the person in charge. Ultimately, these vows are lived out within a community and bolstered by a relationship with God. Consequently:

Becoming a Missionary of the Sacred Heart doesn’t happen over night. Plenty of time and help is given to preparing us for a way of life that is certainly not ordinary!

People interested in exploring if this way is for them usually journey with us for a time of Accompaniment. This is an opportunity to carefully and prayerfully get more of a sense of what we are about and come to know yourself better.

If a person decides to join us he is helped along the many steps of prayer, study, reflection, living and working in our pastoral and missionary settings and sharing our way of life to try it out for size. All this happens before any commitment is made. [7]

The actual process of discernment and formation differs slightly with each province, but the overall scheme is the same.

Religious formation


Young adults aged 18 and over, meet regularly to share their experiences of God and what He may be calling them to become. During this time the members of the Congregation share what it is like to be a priest, religious brother or sister. The young people are also strongly encouraged to attend Mass as often as possible and to regularly spend time in prayer in order to better discern their vocation.

Live in experience

In the US this is normally a series of weekends or whole week experiences, designed to help young men who are interested in religious life. [8] Whilst on these live-in experiences, young people have the opportunity to live in community, to share their faith more deeply and to share with those who are missionaries, both lay and ordained.

In other provinces, this experience is full-time e.g. in the United Kingdom where during this stage a candidate may take classes in philosophy or theology. [9] This is especially so if the person does not possess a university degree. In the Philippines Province, candidates (called ‘Formands’) who have graduated from high school go to live the MSA Formation Centre in Cebu from where they take university classes, a process which lasts some five years. The Filipinos refer to this as the Collegiate. [10]

Aspirancy, postulancy, pre-novitiate

It is normal for a person to have a degree before entering this year. In the US the aspirant goes to live full-time in an MSC formation house with peers and under the guidance of a formation director. This period devoted to learning more deeply about what it means to follow Christ as a future member of the Congregation. In provinces with few postulants the aspirant will normally live in one of the various communities. In the Philippines there are enough postulants to have a designated house, situated in Valenzuela. [11]


Once the candidate knows the MSC way of life, he is admitted into the novitiate preparing himself to take the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The novitiate year is crucial, for it is then “...that the novices better understand their divine vocation, and indeed one which is proper to the institute, experience the manner of living of the institute, and form their mind and heart in its spirit, and so that their intention and suitability are tested.” [12] Thus, the novices are given the opportunity for longer periods of prayer and spiritual reading as well as silence in order to reflect on the vocation God is offering and nature of their response. The spiritual development of the novice is of particular focus, especially through spiritual direction. During the novitiate the history and Constitutions of the Congregation are studied in depth.

A simple profession is made at the end of the novitiate and the person officially becomes a member of the Congregation for “By religious profession, members assume the observance of the three evangelical counsels by public vow, are consecrated to God through the ministry of the Church, and are incorporated into the institute with the rights and duties defined by law.” [13]

Post novitiate

Post novitiate is where the newly professed religious deepens his commitment as a member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and decides whether or not to make a lifelong commitment to vowed life. During this period it is normal to pursue a degree in theology; in the US this would be done at Catholic Theological Union, in the Philippines at the MSC’s own theologate in Quezon City, Manila and in the UK at Heythrop College. At the end of this period of formation, which, according to Canon Law, may last no more than six years [14] perpetual profession (final vows) is made and ordination to the diaconate and presbyterate follows for those called to Holy Orders.

Spirit and charism

The Constitutions of the Congregation state:

The spirit of our Congregation is made of love and kindness, humility and simplicity; but above all, it is a spirit of love for justice and concern for the welfare of all, specially the poorest ones. [15]

For the Congregation the motto ‘May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be everywhere loved’ goes beyond placing statues of the Sacred Heart in churches, First Friday devotions and novenas, important as they are. It means believing that Christ’s love for His people is empowering, healing, all-embracing, liberating and challenging. [16] In practical terms, this means that the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart:

This means that the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart are engaged in a variety of ministries as they respond to the "signs of the times", ever seeking ways in which to bring people to a deeper appreciation of the love that God has for his children, and to do so in "concrete circumstances". [17]

Missions and ministries

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The novitiate, also called the noviciate, is the period of training and preparation that a Christian novice monastic, apostolic, or member of a religious order undergoes prior to taking vows in order to discern whether he or she is called to vowed religious life. It often includes times of intense study, prayer, living in community, studying the vowed life, deepening one's relationship with God, and deepening one's self-awareness. It is a time of creating a new way of being in the world. The novitiate stage in most communities is a two-year period of formation. These years are "Sabbath time" to deepen one's relationship with God, to intensify the living out of the community's mission and charism, and to foster human growth. The novitiate experience for many communities includes a concentrated program of prayer, study, reflection and limited ministerial engagement.

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Missionaries of the Precious Blood

The Missionaries of the Precious Blood form a community of priests and brothers within the Roman Catholic Church. The Society was founded by Saint Gaspar del Bufalo in 1815. The Missionaries of the Precious Blood is a shortened English translation of the Latin "Congregatio Missionariorum Pretiosissimi Sanguinis Domini Nostri Jesu Christi,". Priests and brothers use the post-nominal initials C.PP.S. after their names.

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The Daughters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a religious institute of pontifical right whose members profess public vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience and follow the evangelical way of life in common.

The Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, also known as the Comboni Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Verona Fathers, or the Sons of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and originally called the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is a male religious institute of papal law: the members of this congregation, known merely as Comboni, bear the letters MCCI. It was founded on June 1, 1867.


  1. Catholic Encyclopedia 1913: MSC of Jesus
  2. Australian Province: MSC worldwide
  3. Catholic Encyclopedia 1913: Missionaries of the Sacred Heart
  4. Australian Province: About us
  5. J. Franklin (2016). "Catholic missions to aboriginal Australia: an evaluation of their overall effect" (PDF). Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  6. MSC 150 Anniversary Book, p. 24-152
  7. British-Irish Province: Training and Formation
  8. US Province website: Discernment
  9. British Province: Training and Formation
  10. Philippines Province: Join us (Stages of Formation)
  11. Philippine Province: Postulancy
  12. Code of Canon Law 646
  13. Code of Canon Law 654
  14. Code of Canon Law 655
  15. US Province: About us
  16. Philippines Province: Spirituality
  17. British-Irish Province: Who we are
  18. Australian Province: Mission + Ministry
  19. Provincial website: Missions
  20. Philippines Province:Mission
  21. South Africa Province: Welcome
  22. US Province: Our mission