The beginnings of a sacred story – February 24th 1849

Posted February 23, 2021

« The beginnings of a sacred story »
February 24th 1849

Heritage and Spirituality group
Sr Marie France Correau- rscm


We give thanks and celebrate today the foundation of the Congregation of the Religious of the Sacred heart of Mary, the founding event of our sacred story.

Speaking in 2012 to the RSHM in Portugal, Sr Kathleen Connell said to them: “Our story is holy because the Spirit is with us and leads us towards God…Transformation into Jesus-Christ is central in Gailhac’s vision and in RSHM spirituality: it is in the dynamics of our story. Number 2 of our Constitutions affirms: “Our faith-journey as Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary is one of total commitment to follow Christ, to personal transformation in him and to transformation of the world.” Therein lies the secret of our lives.”

Founded in Beziers on February 24th 1849, the Institute of the Sacred Heart of Mary was approved by Pope Pius IX in his 1873 Decretum Laudis, without stating Father Gailhac as founder. Sr. Kathleen Connell writes in the beginning of Volume III « A Journey in faith and time » (p 4-8) how, in 1879, M. St Félix with her council « decided to continue efforts to obtain a second approbation of the Institute from the Holy See »* But when the final Decretum, dated on July 10th 1880, arrived from Rome, it was a big disappointment because our Founder’s name still did not figure on it. Therefore, it was decided « to go to Rome personally to see if something could be done. »*

Cardinal Hohenlohe, cardinal protector de la Congregation, arranged in 1882 a private audience with Leo XIII, successor de Pie IX. Sr Kathleen writes: « This intimate conversation greatly impressed father Gailhac » *so much so that he remarked later in a letter addressed to the sisters:« You long to have God give you the Spirit of Jesus Christ, his Son, to have you share in his divine life. Yes, that is what the Holy Father recommended to me twice, after having congratulated me for the grace that God had given me in calling me to form a community totally centered on seeking his glory by working with other people and by teaching them to know God, to love him and to serve him. Here are his very words: « You must be so happy that God has chosen you for such a work. Do work. » And he used the same word ‘work’ twice, « to inspire in all your daughters the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. » You know so very well, dear daughters, that this has been my only thought and that, from the very beginning, that is all that I have done. But you can understand that ever since I heard these words from the Vicar of Christ, my heart is burning to help you in any way possible to live and act in all that you do according to the spirit of Jesus Christ »  (GS/17 :V/83/A)

Sr K.Connell again underlines: « The pope’s affirmation of J. Gailhac was such a powerful grace for him that Gailhac’s disappointment about not being recognized as Founder in the  Decretum seems to have totally vanished »*

*A journey in faith and time Vol.III   Kathleen Connell, RSHM

**Dinamismo na Historia das RSCM – Manter viva a Chama   Kathleen Connell, RSCM  ( CSJG )

« Aux commencements d’une histoire sainte » 24 février 1849


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