The Dawning of our Congregation on American Soil Set Free the Vibrant Spirit of our Charism
The mission of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus took root in American soil when, following the (edict of secularization), our Superiors saw the need to expand beyond the borders of France and accepted the invitation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate to care for the domestic services needed in their newly opened seminary in San Antonio, Texas. It was the year 1903 that Sisters Marie Bernard DANIELO, Gabriel de Jesus CHEVALIER, Marie du Calvaire COSQUER, Marie Dominique STEVANT, and Sainte Emilie PELLERIN set foot on American soil in New Orleans, Louisiana, arriving in San Antonio, Texas, on September 12, 1903.
The number of sisters was reinforced each year by sisters from France. In 1922, the first five native Texan women pronounced their vows in the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Jacut. They were Sisters Rose of Lima GONZALEZ, Marie de la Guadalupe SANTELLANO, Marie du Rosaire DE LA ROSA, Josephine Marie GUZMAN, and Marie Anastasie CUMPIAN.
After a visit from the superiors in 1921, the sisters were recalled from Texas because none of the works in the six establishments of the province were attached to the goals of the Congregation: education and the care of the sick. Nevertheless, with the intercession of the provincial of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the decision was rescinded. Thereafter, the sisters became involved in education, pastoral care and care of the sick particularly in south and central Texas.
From 1903 the sisters in Texas belonged to the Canadian province until 1916 when, with the arrival of Mother St. Firmin DOLO, Texas became a separate province. In 1928 the sisters built the first house of their own in Texas which served as the Provincial House and the Novitiate. However, in the surrounding farms and dairies neighbors began to petition the sisters to open a school for their children. In September 1929, in a transformed part of the Provincial House, Mount Sacred Heart School opened with Sister Rose of Lima GONZALEZ, Principal; Mother St. Firmin DOLO, Provincial Superior, and Sister Antoine Marie HAMEL, Teacher. The school soon became the first Catholic boarding school for elementary grade boys in the state of Texas. Excellence in education and increased enrollment necessitated the opening of a new school building in 1941, limited to boys, boarding and day students. In 1955, a school, limited to girls, boarding and day students, opened. A Montessori division for 2 ½ to 5 years old was added in 1974. The boarding divisions were closed in 1971; Mount Sacred Heart School became co-ed in 1986. Today, Mount Sacred Heart School celebrates 90 years of providing a high quality Catholic education to children in the early formative stages of human development and faith formation from ages 2 ½ to 14.
The sisters remain actively involved in education, catechesis, care of the sick, pastoral ministry, social services, immigrant and refugee services, and community services in San Antonio as they have been throughout 116. They have made known to all the tenderness and merciful love of the Father revealed in Jesus in San Antonio, San Benito, Mission, Castroville, Port La Vaca, Gonzales, Houston, Cotulla, Bracketville, Seymour, Carrizo Springs, Leon Valley, San Juan, Austin, Del Rio, McAllen, Brownsville, Progreso, the Rio Grande Valley, Corpus Christi, La Feria, Floresville, Edinburgh, Bomarton, Megargel, Pharr, Weslaco, Goree, Spring, El Campo, and Amarillo in Texas; Migrant Work in Texas and Wisconsin; New Orleans in Louisiana; Las Vegas, Mosquero, Roy and Raton in New Mexico; Oklahoma City and Yukon, Oklahoma; Jefferson City, Sedalia, and Vienna in Missouri; Oaxa, Cuajilmalpa, and Mexico City in Mexico. Eleven of our members have served/are serving in Peru, Cameroon, Great Britain, Ireland, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Honduras, and France.
In the tradition of those who have gone before us, we are not content simply to conserve the heritage others have left us. Rather, we must be carriers of a new vision to enrich the vitality of the charism in the future.