“The answer to all of our concerns is God’s love.”
– Fr. Raymond Diesbourg, MSC, Provincial Superior
Most religious orders have a charism, that is, a particular gift or spirituality which they bring to those they serve and to the Church as a whole. Each charism is unique, serving as an identifying characteristic of the order. Our MSC charism is summed up in our motto that the Sacred Heart be loved everywhere.
In 1854, our founder, Fr. Jules Chevalier, had a vision that the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was the remedy for the social ills he witnessed. Today we continue working to bring God’s love to the problems we see. While the problems may change over time, our response remains the same. As our Provincial says, “The answer to all of our concerns is God’s love.”
While our priests and brothers are engaged in different ministries, from parish and pastoral ministry to developing and assisting the Colombian mission in Bogotá, all of our members focus on helping others know God and know that God loves them. We help people come to know who God really is and to experience his love for them by helping them develop three elements of Christian love: our love and relationship with God, our love and relationship with self, and our love and relationship with others. What does that look like 162 years after our founding and 140 years after Missionaries of the Sacred Heart first started working in the United States? We asked our members what it means for them to live out the MSC charism. Here are a few of our responses:
Fr. Earl Henley, M.S.C., works in Native American ministry in California. From July 20-24, he attended the 77th Annual Kateri Tekakwitha Conference. St. Kateri is the first Native American to be recognized as a saint, and Fr. Earl had the opportunity to travel for her canonization in October 2012. The theme of this year’s conference was “The Bridge between our Faith and Our Traditions” and highlights included presentations related to Catholic and Native American spirituality and history, meals together, and daily Native Mass liturgies. Fr. Earl led the Reconciliation and Healing service on July 21. Reflecting on his experience, he said, “Jesus teaches us five actions that led to effective ministry: walking with, listening to, talking with, breaking bread with, and empowering. We are all missionaries. We are called to be missionaries of love. I am proud of all our people [who attended the Conference] and more than 600 other participants who contributed to our growth.”
All the way across the country, Fr. Bernard Jakubco, M.S.C., served as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Perry, Florida, for more than seven years before retiring this year. During this time he also volunteered in prison ministry. For Fr. Bernie, the MSC charism is fundamentally about joy, love, and gentleness. He shared scripture texts which describe how he “lives the charism.”
- Joy – First of all, I am very grateful for the Lord’s love and mercy for me and for calling me to be a missionary of his great love, I am very happy. And so I can identify with: “Rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
- Love – “Whatsoever you do for the LEAST . . [marginalized people, especially prison inmates] . . . you do for me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)
- Gentleness “A bruised reed he will not break; a smoldering wick he will not quench.” (Isaiah 42:3 and Fr. Jakubco’s favorite text in the Bible)
Fr. Simione Volavola, M.S.C., also referenced a special Bible verse: “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” (Mark 6:50). In his words, “Fear rose within me when I was told that I was coming to the United States to work here. What could a young priest from Fiji possibly do in this huge country?”
Yet in the last nine years (five years at Holy Family in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and four years at St. John the Baptist in Ottsville, Pennsylvania), Fr. Simi has “come to realize how much our Lord loves His people here in the United States and how He continues to call and send His missionaries to be sacraments of His merciful and healing presence to them.” He considers himself blessed both to be one of those missionaries and to be a daily recipient of God’s merciful and healing presence through the many people he has encountered here.
Fr. Chevalier dreamed that the Sacred Heart of Jesus would someday be loved everywhere. Today, the priests and brothers of the MSC community follow the motto, “We love as Jesus loved,” trying to emulate Christ in their lives and ministries. These examples of the diverse communities the MSC minister to shows us that Christ is calling all people to the source of true mercy and love – His Sacred Heart.