The Irish Associates - IRS Province

The IRS - Irish Associates

Armagh group

There are ten Associates in Armagh. Some are past Staff members of our schools here, three are in fact on the Staff of Mount St. Catherine’s Primary School, and one Associate is a secretary in St. Catherine’s College. Our youngest member had a baby girl some months ago, so though we have missed her at our meetings, we are glad that mother and baby are doing well. With AMASC some of our group went to Joigny and to visit the Church of St. Francois Xavier in Paris, a few years ago. It was a truly memorable occasion.

All our Associates are busy people, many helping with grand-children, others engaged in their parishes. We meet on the first Thursday of each month of the 'academic' year. During our time together we catch up with news, we share prayer, and enjoy some refreshments together.

Recently we had two very thought provoking meetings on aspects of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in connection with the forthcoming meeting of RSCJ in Manila on those themes.

Dunlaoghaire group

Being an Associate of the Society of the Sacred Heart is for us a way of life, as we endeavour to live out its charism of discovering the love of the Heart of Jesus. We are privileged to be part of the Sacred Heart family. We support one another in times of anxiety, worry, bereavement, illness, joys and celebratory occasions. At our monthly meetings, often prepared by one of us, we have a time of silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. This is followed by reflection and discussion on Scripture, Liturgical themes, Society letters etc. There is open and trustful sharing which is both inspirational and challenging, encouraging us to live out our commitment as Associates, by revealing God’s love where we are in the world.

We are 11 Associates in the Dun Laoghaire Group, many of us for the past 18 years. We made our first commitment in 2000, the millennium year and renew this commitment each year on the Feast of the Sacred Heart. Another group are now following the journey of preparation to become Associates.

We share a common mission with the sisters of making known the love of God through our various Pastoral Ministries, such as volunteers in Hospice, with St Vincent de Paul, with Diocesan Deanery, with the bereaved, care of the elderly and of sick relatives and through our care for each other.

Our RSCJ links reflect with us from time to time on our aims as Associates, enshrined in our handbook for associates. The original handbook was updated some years ago.

We meet with Mount Anville Associates twice a year, before Christmas for Mass and a celebration for the upcoming Feast and on the Feast of the Sacred Heart, when we renew our yearly commitment.

Mount Anville evening Group

We are eight in our group – all women now and young in heart though not in years. Each one, though retired is involved one way or another in the service of others.  When we meet together each month, it is to deepen spirituality.  It also deepens the friendship between us. We start with prayer and this year we have mostly used the reflections on Philippine for this year of prayer.  Other times at the big moments of the Liturgical year, we have used a passage from the Gospel.  Our prayer is usually followed by some input related to it and leads into sharing or discussion.  Members of the group may share how life has been for them and they value the quiet time together, the discovery of new ways of  understanding a passage from Scripture and a new openness in the Church.  They appreciate being with others who want to explore these things together and to listen to different points of view.  Our meetings always conclude with a cup of tea and a very enjoyable chat. 

During Advent, we celebrate Mass together with the other Dublin groups, followed by a Christmas party and in June Associates and RSCJ celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart together.  The Associates renew their commitment, following the RSCJ’s renewal of their Vows.  At the beginning of Lent this year we had a day’s retreat together.

Mount Anville Afternoon group

Our group of Associates at Mount Anville were formed in Year 2000, and grew out of a prayer group which had been meeting weekly for many years in the convent with Sr. Angela Delaney. 

We have had some changes in personnel over the years but still have about the same number of Associates. 

Our monthly meeting usually takes the form of prayer, music, discussion and some bible study (mainly the gospels for the forthcoming Sundays). One year we studied the women in the Bible. During tea we catch up on any congregational and personal news.

Some years we have gone on pilgrimage within Ireland and have had retreat days.

We also have a celebration of Mass with the Sisters for Feast of Sacred Heart at which we renew our commitment.  Before Christmas we meet with the other Dublin Associates, have Mass, usually followed by a party and some musical contributions.  

When our co-ordinator Sr. Carmel has gone to Africa we have had a monetary collection to assist the ministries of the RSCJ there. Some of the Associates have also made some volunteering visits to Africa with her.

associates smiles

Additonally:  Over the years, this group have had some interesting excursions:  Once to Glendalough in Wicklow - an early Christian monastic settlement, founded in the 6th Century by St. Kevin. Sr. Rita Kinch, now with the Lord, was very interested in Celtic Spirituality and at our next meeting, she had pictures of all the Irish Saints sitting on the chairs, leading to a very lively discussion.  We visited Armagh in 2015, The Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis and made our pilgrimage through the Holy Door there.  Sr. Carmel Flynn  took us on a walking tour of the town, which included the site of first Sacred Heart School which Mother Croft and 5 sisters opened in 1851.  We also visited St Brigid’s Holy Well and the Bridgidine Community in Co. Kildare.  This year we attended some or all of three discussion meetings on Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation which took place in Mount Anville with some Sisters and people involved in education.  The Pope's Encyclical Laudato Si was discussed and our relationship with the earth and marginalised people, e.g. refugees and the poor.  This year we had a day retreat locally with Mass, confessions, lecture and discussion.  The Dublin groups got together for this and it was very well attended.  We attended a wonderful day of discussion on St. Philippine Duchesne and also got a report on the Bicentennial celebrations in Saint Louis last July.  A very lively and informative discussion followed.

Most of the members are involved in their own parish and in the special Ministries there.  We hope that the Charism of the Sacred Heart Society comes through in our work there.  We also have some members who are ill or going through treatments especially this year and we keep contact and prayers for each one of them.  

Devotion to the Sacred Heart

 Some thoughts about the
Devotion to the Sacred Heart[1]
8th June 2018

 sacred heart 2 

 An Associate shares some thoughts on Devotion to the Sacred Heart

The  devotion to the Sacred Heart  is one of our most important ways of getting to know Jesus, the human being and second person of the Trinitarian God. The heart is the core of our being, the center of our emotions and desires. It can be considered the center of all spirituality, the place of all love. That is why the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which we celebrate 19 days after Pentecost, is such an important one for many Roman Catholics.

Summarizing the Catechism:-

Devotion to the Sacred Heart calls for a fundamental attitude of conversion and reparation, of love and gratitude, of commitment and of dedication to Jesus, and his saving work of salvation.

We are encouraged to participate in this devotion by focusing on Religious Images, reading and reflecting on Scripture, connecting with the mysteries of our faith, and on the importance of the love of God and Neighbor.

As a child growing up in our family home, like most catholic families, we had a picture of the Sacred heart hanging prominently in our house. It showed the Post Easter Jesus with a heart crowned with thorns, radiating light, a hand raised in blessing and a face with a gentle and compassionate expression. It was an image that helped draw me to prayer. The heart of Jesus is, for Pope Francis, the ultimate symbol of God’s mercy. It represents the center and the source from which the whole of humanity has been given life.

Within the Bible the human heart is mentioned almost 300 times. In essence it says: the heart is that spiritual part of us where our emotions and desires dwell. What is beautiful about this is that there are so many references to the heart of Jesus. Many of them speak of the heartfelt compassion of this human yet divine being. Jesus encourages us to go to him when we are feeling heavily burdened; he will give us rest. He wants us to learn from him because he is "meek and humble of heart' (Mt 11:28-29). When Jesus meets a woman in Nain, as she is about to bury her son, he is moved by great compassion for her (Lk 7:13). This 'compassion' is God's love for humanity. It is mercy in all its fullness. It is not sentimental but the attitude of God who is in contact with our vulnerability, our suffering, our anguish and our pain. The mercy of God in this instance raises the son from the dead. This mercy stems from a merciful heart, a heart that always waits for us, ready to heal our inner wounds, to forgive our sins...all of them. In a world where there is so much pain and suffering, sin and division, a God with a merciful heart is worth spending time with, worth being devoted to.

This devotion to the Sacred Heart has been fostered by The Society of the Sacred Heart, founded in Paris in 1800 by Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat[2]. The Society’s charism, or particular call in the Church, is to discover and to communicate the love of Jesus.

From very early times there has been an ever deepening understanding of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As we strive to appreciate the great mystery it contains, we grow more fully in our desire to live this mercy, this compassion, this love of God in our relationships.

In our families and neighbours and the wider world all need to experience the love which flows from the heart of God. In Jesus, God has opened a heart where love is ever faithful and true. We who experience this in the Eucharist, in our prayer, in the sacramental life of the church, are given the grace to let this love flow from us so that everyone can come to know the mercy and the compassion of Jesus. We are invited to enter in so that we may experience it in all its fullness.

The Society of the Sacred Heart is adapting to changing circumstances to enable it to fulfil its purpose. The movement named “Associates of the Society of the Sacred Heart”[3] is a response to the on-going changes in the needs of both lay people and sisters. It is a mutual support for the development of both spirituality and ministry in an increasingly materialistic world.

 Reflective Questions:-

1. With the decline in the number of Consecrated Religious Sisters, the Religious might ask themselves what do they see is the future role of the Associates.

 2. With the faithful attendance of Associates at their monthly meetings, the Associates might ask themselves what do they see is the future role of the Sisters?

 3. How can the Sisters and Associates work together to increase their support for each other in the development of both spirituality and ministry in an increasingly materialistic world.

 One of the famous quotes of Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat:

"Be humble, be simple, and bring joy to others."



[1] This Article has been adapted from Sarah Adams essay ‘My heart goes on and on…Devotion to the Sacred Heart’ published in the Reality Magazine, June 2018, Redemptorist-Communications, Ireland. 


[3] This article has been prepared by Noel Moran, an “Associate  of the Society of the

Sacred Heart”, based in Killiney, Co Dublin, Ireland.

Associate Reflection on Saint Philippine Duchesne

One of the Associates Dacia Van Antwerp offers the following reflection on

 St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

philippine duchesne“Her prayer was a quiet looking and listening…”[1]

Ever since the Lord led Philippine Duchesne to desire to serve the natives in America, she planned and prepared for the Indian missions. After coming to America in 1818, at long last, in 1841, the goal was in sight. Not Philippine but Lucille Mathevon, RSCJ, had been nominated as superior of the Indian mission band. Philippine was not going to be among the group. Mother Mathevon had written to Madeleine Sophie Barat in April describing Mother Duchesne’s health,“There is scarcely a breath of life in her.” And later, on May 10, she wrote, “Mother Duchesne is growing considerably weaker. I fear she would not be able to go far.” Even Philippine herself admitted to Sophie on May 18, “My writing and my scratching out show you the weakness of both my head and my hand …. I await the will of God.”

All around her preparations were being made for the Indian Mission and “there seemed to be no human hope of her going to Sugar Creek.”[2] What was going through Philippine’s heart and head as she was forced to accept the fact that she was not going on the mission?

But God has his ways. Father Peter J. Verhaegen, S.J came to the convent quite unexpectedly one morning. He had decided to visit the Sugar Creek Mission in July and thought it best for the religious to travel in safety under his escort. With him in the parlor were Mothers Gray, Mathevon and Duchesne, for Father Verhaegen always asked for Mother Duchesne. They were discussing the details of the trip and the preparations for three religious. Father Verhaegen had expected four. He turned to where Mother Duchesne was sitting and said, “But she must come, too.” She was the person he wanted most of all at Sugar Creek. “Even if she can use only one leg, she will come. Why, if we have to carry her all the way on our shoulders, she is coming with us. She may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us. Her very presence will draw down all manner of heavenly favors on the work.”

Thus the little band – including Philippine – boarded the Missouri River packet on June 29, 1841. Looking at the nuns and sensing their need, the passengers took up a collection of about $50 and provisions worth about $40, which they gave to the nuns.

And what were her thoughts once she arrived at the Mission? She wrote from the village of the Potawatomi, “we have reached the country of our desires. … No difficulties except when people worry too much about tomorrow.”  Unable to contribute as she thought she should, she faced the fact that she had failed in the dearest hope of her life. She was incapable of active work.

Dacia Van Antwerp, Associate

[1] Louise Callan rscj, Philippine Duchesne, Newman Press, 1965, p.487.

[2] Ibid, p.426.