Who we are

Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, an Australian community, in a worldwide religious congregation.

Ministry Mission

Jesus loved with a human heart: with him we proclaim his love to the world.

Peace, Justice, Creation

We work to discover through advocacy, healing and reconciliation, God's presence in our world.

Spirituality

We are to be on earth the heart of God. God has no other heart but ours.

Lay MSC

LAY MSC NEWSLETTER   AUGUST 2017.

Newsletter 1

Contents

From the Director                 

Third International Conference of the Laity of the Chevalier Family   

Chevalier and the Organization of the Lay Branch of the Chevalier Family             

 

FROM THE DIRECTOR

An international meeting of the Lay MSC was held in Sao Paulo in Brazil in July.  At that meeting Alison McKenzie from Australia was elected as the first General Secretary of the Laity of the Chevalier Family.  The group includes not only those who share the charism of the MSC, but also of the OLSH Sisters and the MSC Sisters.  Our warm congratulations to Alison.

This newsletter will include only a copy of the paper given by Hans Kwakman at the meeting and a summary of the meeting by Fred Stubenrauch who was the other Australian representative at the meeting.

May God’s blessings be with all of you.

                        Jim Littleton MSC

Third International Conference of the Laity of the Chevalier Family

Countries represented included Australia, Brazil, Republic of Congo, Senegal, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Dominican Republic, United States, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Korea, Philippines, France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands.

The Tri-Generalate was represented by Sr Merle Salazar (OLSH), Fr Wahyudi (MSC) and Sr Bonaventura (MSC Sisters)

Each day began with a reflection presented by a different country and each day ended with the celebration of Eucharist again by a different country.

Speakers presented talks on several topics and a lot of time was spent discussing the “Guidelines” document and voting for nominees for the position of General Secretary.

NOTE: The “Guidelines” document is titled “General Guiding Principles and Statutes of the Laity of the Chevalier Family”. This document was approved by the

assembly of those present and will be published widely in the near future.

The General Secretary of the Laity of the Chevalier Family together with the International Council will have responsibility for overseeing the development and organisation of the Laity of the Chevalier family.  Alison McKenzie was elected to this position and together with her deputy, Doris Machado (Brazil) will begin the process of selecting an International Council early next year.

There were 75 lay people and 25 professed (MSC priests, OLSH sisters and MSC Sisters). Twenty countries were represented and six languages – translators were kept very busy especially when people spoke passionately and quickly!

There were translators English /Portuguese; Portuguese/Spanish; Portuguese/French; Spanish/English; Dutch/Portuguese; English/Spanish, Portuguese/Korean.

The Third International Conference of the Laity of the Chevalier Family was held at the Santa Fe Centre, Sao Paolo, Brazil from the 16th to the 26th of July 2017.

                               

                                                      By Fred Stubenrauch

 

“Spirituality without Borders: Vision and Mission of the Laity of the Chevalier Family”

Countries represented included Australia, Brazil, Republic of Congo, Senegal, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Dominican Republic, United States, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Korea, Philippines, France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands.

The Tri-Generalate was represented by Sr Merle Salazar (OLSH), Fr Wahyudi (MSC) and Sr Bonaventura (MSC Sisters)

Each day began with a reflection presented by a different country and each day ended with the celebration of Eucharist again by a different country.

Speakers presented talks on several topics and a lot of time was spent discussing the “Guidelines” document and voting for nominees for the position of General Secretary.

NOTE: The “Guidelines” document is titled “General Guiding Principles and Statutes of the Laity of the Chevalier Family”. This document was approved by the assembly of those present and will be published widely in the near future.

The General Secretary of the Laity of the Chevalier Family together with the International Council will have responsibility for overseeing the development and organisation of the Laity of the Chevalier family.  Alison McKenzie was elected to this position and together with her deputy, Doris Machado (Brazil) will begin the process of selecting an International Council early next year.

Travelling to Brazil was quite an event as our flight from Australia scheduled for Sunday 16th July was cancelled. I was lucky enough to be accommodated overnight in Sydney but our OLSH and PNG friends not so. They spent some 36 hours on planes and in airports.

Tuesday 18th

Rita Cleuren gave an overview of the development and growth of Laity of the Chevalier Family over the past 20 years, from the first International Gathering in Issoudun in 1999 to Santo Domingo in 2008 and Brazil in 2017.  Much of this development has been guided by Rita and other members of the European Committee.

Most of the remainder of the day was spent in getting to know other people present and in exploration of the theme of the conference.

Wednesday 19th

The topic for the first session was “In What Way was Jesus a Border Crosser?”.

This was presented by Sr. Merle Salazar an OLSH sister from Philippines who is now attached the Generalate in Rome.

Jesus crossed, ignored, went around, and used borders. He left some intact, some changed, some destroyed and made some new ones.

She reminded us of a story Nick Harnan MSC told at the meeting in Santo Domingo :  (something like this)

         

             After he died Jesus called people from all countries together. “How will what I have commenced be continued?” A person who was a good preacher said, “I will do that”.  So the Dominicans were begun.  Another said “ I care about the creatures of the Earth and about the very poor so I will look after that aspect”.  So the Franciscans were born.  After many spoke up about continuing some aspect of Jesus’ nature he said, “And who will spread my love as answer to the ills of society?”  A quiet parish priest from Issoudun said,  “I will do that”. So Spirituality of the Heart was continued.

 

In the afternoon session, Sr. Mercy Mejia Benitez MSC from Guatemala, presented a talk “ Jesus’ Image of God and His Spirituality”.

Images of God can be counterproductive to our understanding of God sometimes in conflict with our images of Jesus. She used texts from New Testament to describe Jesus. Images of light to the world, good shepherd, resurrection and life, way of life, the true vine, meek and humble of heart.

Thursday 20th

The Brazilian Laity led us on a pilgrimage to the basilica at Aparaceibo about 2 hours bus trip away. It was the 300th anniversary of the discovery by a fisherman of a headless statue of Mary in the river.  In the time since many miracles have been attributed to the statue. Originally a small chapel was built and it has over the years grown into a massive structure – very imposing with decorative tiling and many impressive statues. There is a TV studio, a huge canteen, many eating areas, candle shop, a gift shop, parking for hundreds of buses and cars plus a whole shopping centre with massive food hall and kiosks that sell all sorts of things!!! I was even able to buy a phone charger there!  Mass was a spectacular affair with a MSC bishop and 30 MSC priests presiding. Music was good with enthusiastic singing and announcements similar in volume to those at a rock concert. There were literally thousands in attendance and this was supposed to be a quiet day!

 

Friday 21st

This is to be our (Australia) day!

We started with very moving liturgy prepared by Alison during which the video of Anne Gardner OLSH receiving her recognition as Senior Australian of the Year was shown.   The topic of my presentation was  “Fr. Chevalier’s Vision: A Mission Without Borders”.  It seemed to go well with some positive comments after and a few wanting a copy!

 

Alison’s followed with a presentation on the above theme from Australian context and it was very well received.  After her talk Alison provided two questions that generated much discussion especially about how to involve young people in the lay MSC movement.

NOTE: We will provide our presentations by separate email to any who would like them – just send me an email request.

 

There followed a presentation by Hans Kwakman MSC “ A New Concept for Organisation of the Lay Family;  The Role of Laity in the Chevalier Family”

Note: This paper is included in this edition of Lay News

 

Saturday 22nd

We were divided into language groups and encouraged to reflect on the topic

 “The Future and Vision of the Laity of the Chevalier Family”.

Later in the day we voted for the acceptance of the “Guidelines”. They were accepted unanimously. One person from each country plus four members of the International Committee were allocated voting rights.  There followed several reports of formation in some (selected) countries. I will write more about this for a later edition.

Sunday 23rd

We were taken on a pilgrimage that began on a bus at 7:00 am to Mass at Notre Dame du Sacre Coeur – about 1 hour drive. This was a huge event. As we arrived the first Mass was coming out – more than 1000 people.  Once again it was an ‘event’ with great music and singing. All the Ministers of the Eucharistic wore a grey uniform and looked very official. After Mass we were fed downstairs and then travelled to the OLSH Provincial House – very neat with vegetable gardens and many quiet places in the grounds. The sisters run a school there for disadvantaged people teaching English and practical skills. More food and entertainment followed!

Next we travelled by small bus to the parish of San Miguel. The MSC had asked the bishop for a parish in a poor area, in the slums (not a favelo we were quickly reminded). Very poor housing and crowded. Our guide explained that people are attracted to Sao Paulo as a ‘dream’ place to be and when they get there find that things are not as they imagined. We visited three churches and each one provided some sort of ‘school’ and food bank.  At the last one we were fed (again) and entertained by a band and dancers – a bit like square dancing.  The parish priest later told us that the people were grateful for our visit as most people try to avoid them.

Monday 24th

Election of  the General Secretary:  Each nominee was announced and spoke.  Nominees – Doris Marchado (Brazil); Lynn Ditlow (USA); Silvi Barghon (France); Maribel Lopez (Guatamala); Hipolito Rosario (Dominican Republic); Ingrid Manzano (El Salvador); Alison McKenzie (Australia)

Election: There were 23 eligible to vote (1 each country and 4 International committee). Majority was to be 50% plus 1 i.e. 13.   After two rounds of voting Alison was declared elected with Doris as deputy.

Tuesday 25th

Sr Marisa Aquino, OLSH from Brazil gave a lecture connecting “Pope Francis and Spirituality of the Heart”.  She drew many comparisons between Jules Chevalier’s charism and that of Pope Francis and made the point that Jules and Francis are separated by time but connected in Spirituality.

Evaluations followed and our then final liturgy. It was very moving as you can imagine.  We began the conference as strangers but ended as friends and confreres.  I returned to Australia

enthused about the future of the Laity of the Chevalier Family. There are many things to consider and much to do over the next years.

The next General Assembly of Laity will be in six years in a country to be  decided. Guatemala has offered but I fancy Korea but will probably be too old to go by then.  A wonderful enriching experience that strengthened my feeling that we are part of a thriving worldwide movement of great promise!!

 

Chevalier and the Organization of the Lay Branch of the Chevalier Family 

                                                      by Hans Kwakman MSC, Sao Paolo, July 2017

 

The Chevalier Family will only have a future if it remains faithful to its identity as shaped by the charism of Fr. Chevalier. By saying so, I just repeat what, more than a century ago, has been said in other words by Fr. Piperon MSC: “If a religious family does not wish to perish, it must lovingly preserve the spirit it has received from the Founder.” What Fr. Piperon called “the spirit of the Founder,” today we would call “the charism of the Founder”. The charism or spirit of our Founder included the foundation of the Chevalier Family as a spiritual union of religious fathers and brothers, secular priests and groups of laity or individual lay persons as well.

In the first part of the following presentation, I’ll try to indicate Fr. Chevalier’s original intentions in erecting his Society of the Sacred Heart as being open for religious, secular priests and laity. Following generations misunderstood Chevalier’s intentions, but the renewed MSC Constitutions of 1985 restored Chevalier’s initial project. In a second part I’ll show that, just as in Chevalier’s time, today as well, the Chevalier Family needs a clear structure that will support the mutual responsibility of the three branches for each other, with special attention to the Lay Branch of the Chevalier Family.                                                                                                                                    

The Chevalier Family will only have a future if it remains faithful to its identity as shaped by the charism of Fr. Chevalier. By saying so, I just repeat what, more than a century ago, has been said in other words by Fr. Piperon MSC: “If a religious family does not wish to perish, it must lovingly preserve the spirit it has received from the Founder.” What Fr. Piperon called “the spirit of the Founder,” today we would call “the charism of the Founder”. The charism or spirit of our Founder included the foundation of the Chevalier Family as a spiritual union of religious fathers and brothers, secular priests and groups of laity or individual lay persons as well.

In the first part of the following presentation, I’ll try to indicate Fr. Chevalier’s original intentions in erecting his Society of the Sacred Heart as being open for religious, secular priests and laity. Following generations misunderstood Chevalier’s intentions, but the renewed MSC Constitutions of 1985 restored Chevalier’s initial project. In a second part I’ll show that, just as in Chevalier’s time, today as well, the Chevalier Family needs a clear structure that will support the mutual responsibility of the three branches for each other, with special attention to the Lay Branch of the Chevalier Family.                                                                                    

 

Part I: Chevalier’s original intentions in erecting a Lay                               Branch of the Society of the Sacred Heart

Someone, who clearly understood the originality of Fr. Chevalier’s charism, was the Jesuit Fr. Ramière, a friend of Fr. Chevalier and a sincere supporter of his works. He was the director of the “Apostolate of Prayer” in France and Editor in Chief of the French edition of the “Messenger of the Sacred Heart”.  In 1869, Fr. Chevalier needed the approval of the Archbishop of Bourges and the Vatican for his first draft of the MSC Constitutions. In these Constitutions, Chevalier did not only describe the spirituality and rules of the MSC Congregation, but also included a place for the Association of Secular Priests and the so-called Third Order of lay people.

In a letter to a lay-member of this Third Order, Fr. Ramière wrote: “In case the Vatican is not prepared to include secular priests or laity in these Constitutions, then the MSC Congregation will in no way differ from “one hundred and one” already existing Congregations.” Fr. Ramière understood that Fr. Chevalier was searching for something that in those days was new. Chevalier wanted to establish a Society in which people of different ways of life would come together, being inspired by the same charism and mission, either as religious men and women or secular priests or lay people. Chevalier really wanted to cross the boundaries of what was normally practiced in the Church of his day.

While remaining in their parishes and dioceses, the Secular Priests of the Sacred Heart would carry out the same mission as the Religious of the Sacred Heart. The lay people, united in a Third Order, would perform that mission, while staying in secular society and continuing to perform their daily occupations.  By officially approving Fr. Chevalier’s design of the Constitutions, both the Archbishop of Bourges and the Vatican accepted his wide-ranging plan for this new kind of Society.

From an earlier correspondence with some Jesuits in Paris, it became clear that Chevalier was searching for a structure which should function as an umbrella for people living either in or outside religious communities, with or without vows, while the religious Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, would form the core group of this big Society. The Jesuits offered a general plan for such a society, but recommended Fr. Chevalier, as the founder, to draft a more detailed plan himself.

So, in 1864, Fr. Chevalier came up with his own “Plan of the Society of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart,” in which he pointed out a basic principle of his vision: “In order to fulfill its mission the Society must spread as much as possible, but it will spread only so far as it answers the various aspirations of the people.” Chevalier wrote several documents in order to explain this vision in detail.

 

 

Each document opened with a description of the ills of the time. This fact clearly shows

Chevalier’s conviction that each of these three “branches” should participate in the same mission, in such a way that their presence and activities would be relevant to the renewal of society.  In a comment on this, Fr. Murphy notes: “Reading his early publications, about the nature and mission of his Society, I have the strong impression that (Fr. Chevalier) would have found it unthinkable, or perhaps even impractical, to speak of changing the world and its values without involving laity, for they were the ones more intimately immersed in that world. Religious priests, brothers, sisters, together with secular priests, had an essential role to play, and Father Chevalier stressed that. But if Christ’s mission was to be continued in the world on all levels of society, the role of the laity was at least equally as essential and at times even more essential.

Chevalier emphasizes that the members of the Third Order should remain in their families, while continuing to occupy their regular positions in secular society. If those who were single would like to form communities, they should avoid "anything that gives the appearance of a religious house …, as being against our aim and harmful to the sort of good that this work is called to do.”

In March 1869, the Vatican granted the MSC Congregation a “Decree of Praise”, and by doing so, officially acknowledged the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart as a pontifical, religious congregation, with “the Association of Priests of the Sacred Heart” and “the Third Order of the Sacred Heart” as integral parts. In the first MSC Constitutions of 1877 the Association of the Laity is included in the chapter, entitled “The Aim of the Society of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart”.  That means, as Fr. Murphy notes that Fr. Chevalier, “wanted to incorporate laity into the specific life and mission of the Society.”

During the rest of his life, Fr. Chevalier attempted to carry out this broad vision with unflagging energy. In January 1878, he could write: “Today, (the Third Order) numbers about three hundred members spread through ... France, and also in Italy, in Belgium, England, Austria and Canada: every day new people join up.” However, Chevalier had to admit that his own confreres did not always understand the importance of the Third-Order. In a letter of 1900 to the Superior of the Province of the North, who complained about a certain confrere who did not support the Third Order in the Netherlands, Chevalier expressed his amazement by writing: “I wish that in our provinces and in our houses, everyone supports the Third-Order of the Sacred Heart... It would be more than strange that Missionaries of the Sacred Heart refused their collaboration and dedication to our works of the Sacred Heart.”

In spite of difficulties in finding confreres, who were willing to become “directors” of the groups of lay-associates, Fr. Lanctin MSC, the new General Superior, in a letter to the Vatican of 1904, could report that at the time the Third Order of the Sacred Heart numbered “nearly two thousand members spread throughout most of the Catholic countries of Europe”.

However, in 1907, a far-reaching change happened. An extraordinary General Chapter - not attended by Fr. Chevalier, due to reasons of health - introduced a comprehensive revision of Chevalier’s Constitutions, in use since 1877.  In two ways this revised version of the MSC Constitutions deviated from Fr. Chevalier’s original Charism and intentions. First, no longer was the Devotion to the Sacred Heart presented as a remedy for the ills of the times; and second, no place was given to the accompaniment of secular priests and lay people, who wanted to share in the charism and mission of the religious members of the Chevalier Family. Due to these radical changes, the laity were no longer seen as fellow members participating in the same mission and practicing the same Spirituality. Fr. Ramière’s fears had come true: the MSC became a congregation that in no way differed from so many other existing congregations that carried the title “Sacred Heart” in their name.

Finally, after the Second Vatican Council, the MSC Constitutions returned to the original inspiration of our Founder: “Our Founder wanted the fullness of mission to be realized in a global project with religious men and women, diocesan priests and lay people. He especially wished to have an association of lay people closely united with the professed members in their spirituality and mission (Constitutions of 1877). For this reason the Provincial Superior will promote this Association of Lay MSC. He will also encourage the members of the Province to collaborate in this work. He will appoint a coordinator to help in the development of this Association in relation to us, while respecting its lay character.”

In 2009, the three General Administrations of MSC men and women and the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart together with the Coordinator of the Laity of the Chevalier Family, issued a “Joint Communiqué” in which formation is indicated as a top priority of the whole Chevalier Family. In this document “the religious are encouraged to continue to devote time and energy to the formation of the laity.” In the same Communiqué the hope is expressed “that more and more laity themselves will become formators  for lay members of the Chevalier Family.” Totally in line with Fr. Chevalier’s intentions, the “Joint Communiqué” emphasizes that what is especially needed is “formation in our common spirituality,” a Spirituality of the Heart.

Part II:  The Organization of the Lay Branch of the                                                       Chevalier Family

In a document of 1865 concerning the Lay Branch, Fr. Chevalier stated that everyone,

 

married or not, who, in accordance with her or his social status within the world, wants to grow in love, is welcome as member of the Association, also called the ‘Third Order’. Members of the Third Order will attend an initial program of formation in a Spirituality of the Heart, and observe some basic rules. However, they should remain in secular society, with or without vows or promises, either as a single person, family member or in community.

Regarding the organization of the Third Order, Fr. Chevalier speaks of Directors and Superiors. The General Superior of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart or his delegate is the General Director. There might be also a need for diocesan and local Directors.  The directors have only an advisory function and are chosen from among the religious or secular Priests of the Sacred Heart. The administration of the Third Order consists of a General Superior as well as diocesan and local Superiors, each with their own councils, all chosen from among the lay-members.

In relation to Fr. Chevalier’s view of the organization of the Third Order, we should take into consideration that he wrote this document regarding the Third Order in 1865, at a time when the Congregations of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and the MSC Sisters did not yet exist, and the MSC Congregation had not yet been divided in provinces. For us it is important to notice that, in spite of many difficulties, Fr. Chevalier made continuous efforts to get the Third Order off the ground.  MSC would be responsible for the well-being of the Lay Branch by accompanying it on all levels; and the Lay Branch itself would be structured with a strong organization, supported by the laity itself.

Taking into consideration the developments of the Lay Branch in our day, it is appropriate that the role envisioned by Chevalier in the past and entrusted to the MSC, will now be played by the three Chevalier Congregations. That means that they will assign Spiritual Directors or Advisors, while the three General Administrations together will function as General Director. The laity itself will provide for the administration of the Lay Branch of the Chevalier Family.

Today the Lay Branch of the Chevalier Family is spread all over the world where MSC men and women as well as Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart are present. Groups of lay people of all cultures, orientations and compositions feel themselves a part of the Chevalier Family. Some are more closely connected to MSC fathers and brothers, others to the Daughters, others again to the MSC Sisters. Some groups are more devotional in their orientation, others are more socially oriented, others again put emphasis on reflection, meditation or deepening of faith, while for all the groups socializing is an important element of their gatherings as well.  In any case, they all want to follow the way of the heart as shown by Jesus Christ who loves with a human heart. 

 

Fr. Chevalier’s basic principle is clearly in the process of being carried out.  After all, he wrote: “In order to fulfill its mission the Society must spread as much as possible, but it will spread only so far as it answers the various aspirations of the people.” We are pleased to see that at present the Chevalier Family is able to offer an answer to “the various aspirations of the people.”  Or, to paraphrase a saying of Jesus in St. John’s Gospel: not only in the Father’s house, but also in the house of the Chevalier Family, there are “many rooms” (John 14: 2) available.

So, by proposing a well-constructed organization for the Lay Branch of the Chevalier Family, it is not our intention to create boundaries or to restrict the variety of activities of the groups. The only intention is to give the “many rooms” of the Chevalier Family a solid roof, supported not only by our lay brothers and sisters themselves, but also by the religious members of the Chevalier Family: the MSC men and women and the Daughters.

Therefore, a central element in the proposed organization of the Lay Branch of the Chevalier Family is the National Board (which may go by any other name). This Board consists of a representative of each Local Group in the country, along with the Provincial Superiors (or representatives) of the Congregations of the Chevalier Family, present in a certain country. Until now such a body only exists in a few countries. Some lay-groups are still dependent on the commitment of some religious and run the risk of disappearing, when the involvement of these persons comes to an end. In other countries, there does not yet exist a well-organized collaboration between the Chevalier Congregations in relation to the accompaniment of the local lay-groups. 

The main responsibility of a National Board would be to support a continuous presence of lay-groups in the country and guarantee the on-going formation regarding a Spirituality of the Heart of its members as well, “while respecting its lay character.”  A National Board will also be the body qualified to send official representatives of the lay groups of a certain country to the General Assembly, with the right to vote and to take part in elections. The establishment of a National Board needs the support and collaboration of the Provincial Administrations in each country.

Already the General Assembly came together twice before, namely in Issoudun and the Dominican Republic. This year (2017) it meets again in Sao Paulo. The intention is that the General Assembly will become a body which officially represents the Lay Branch of the Chevalier Family, with the right to take binding decisions. Therefore, at least a part of the participants should be formally appointed, either by election or nomination, as official representatives of the laity of a certain country. 

At present the International Board or Executive Board only consists of representatives of European lay groups and meets twice a year. It is normally accompanied by        

representatives of the Tri-Generalate and a Spiritual Advisor. The proposal is to make it into an intercontinental, executive body of the General Assembly. To that end, at least some of its members should be elected by the General Assembly, e.g. the General Secretary and the first assistant. They should be given the right to invite some other people to become members of this Executive Board, preferably from different continents, in order to guarantee the intercontinental character of the Lay Branch of the Chevalier Family. We imagine that, due to the distances, communication among the members of the International Board will mainly be carried out by communication media, such as email, Skype and WhatsApp.

Finally, regarding our Spirituality and Mission, we purposely propose Guidelines, which are very basic. Every family of national lay-groups or even a local group might feel free, if they want to do so, to formulate their own Guidelines in agreement with their own cultural customs, as long as they remain faithful to the basic orientation of these general Guidelines.  In fact, our common Spirituality and Mission, inspired by Fr. Chevalier’s charism, is what brings us together, all over the world.

                                                                        Hans Kwakman, MSC 2017