Birth … Simple Life …
On September 20th 1767, Angélique Le Sourd was born in Saint-Jacut, diocese of Vannes.
Angélique is not yet six years old when her mother dies. Four years later, she becomes fatherless.
At the age of 13, when her eldest sister marries, she is placed at the neighbours in order to earn her living.
While tending the flocks, she becomes a catechist to her small friends. She loves talking about Jesus … Sometimes the audience is increased with adults.
As she grows older she shows a special aptitude for the sick and needy. She even goes begging to help the needy.
Revolution … Intuition
Years go by … Brittany, like the rest of France bears the consequences of the 1789 Revolution.
During these distressing years, Angelique opens her house to non-juring priests hunted by Revolutionaries. At night, she protects them and leads them to the dying, risking her own life.
When the turmoil is over, to help, to revive faith, restore morals haunt Angelique overflowing with tenderness. The daily sight of the moral and spiritual devastation, left by the Revolution of 1789, has aroused in her heart the desire to consecrate her life to help remedy, by aiding the priests. She then cogitates on a project that she shares with three of her companions : Françoise Richard, Julienne et Jeanne Monnier.
Birth of the Congregation :
“In 1816, on April 25th, as every year on the feast of Saint- Marc, a procession winds its way through the sunken lanes of Saint-Jacut-les-Pins. It stretches out slowly through the countryside, to ask God’s blessings on the next harvest. The procession is called Rogations. It is springtime, the countryside is beautiful and the broom displays its yellow blossoms.
But this year is not quite as usual. After Mass, it isn’t finished. The bells peal out, and another procession begins. This one leads home the group of four : Angelique, Julienne, Jeanne and Françoise.
Father Barbe, the parish priest, has insisted on installing them himself, with ceremony, in their new home.
No one as yet realizes that on this day is born the Congregation of the Sisters of the Sacred of Jesus.
Soon after, they become aware of the frailty of their group if there is no official recognition from both the Church and the government. In 1820, the statutes are drawn, approved by the bishop in 1823 and 4 years later, it is Charles X who signs the legal authorization to the works undertaken by the Sisters. Life is difficult for the Sisters, they live poorly and sometimes close to destitution. Françoise Richard dies. Angelique Pedron, God-daughter of Angelique Le Sourd joins the group with others and they are 5 making profession on September 29th 1828.
The group finds difficulty in growing, but keeps its trust sustained by Father Deshayes advice who simply told them :“Your work is the work of God. Remain what you are.” And the tree expands, new candidates arrive, that allows to open houses where they could devote themselves to education, care of the sick, and the service of the local Church, remaining attentive to every distress. In 1854, the decree of Napoleon III authorizes the Institute as a Congregation.
Like all the Religious Orders, the Congregation emigrates outside France as result of the sectarian laws of 1880 to 1904 : Bechuanaland (South of Africa), Canada, Texas, England. Later, it is challenged by the call of the Church. Sisters go to the Canadian West, North Cameroon, Peru, Chad, Ireland and Mexico.
From the beginning of this expansion, the name “Sisters of Saint Jacut” was too local. On either side of the Atlantic Ocean, a dialogue takes place in view of a change in the name. In January 1909, the decree of Mgr Gouraud, bishop of Vannes, authorizes to take the name of : Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Feeling a kinship with our apostolic orientations, two Congregations join ours : in 1970, the Daughters of Saint Marie of Gacé (Orne) and 20 years later, the Fraternity Our Lady, Congregation of Rennes. Since 1989, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus propose to share the charism of Angelique Le Sourd to Christians.
Today, like every living being, the Congregation alternates between death and birth, through the closing down of communities, mainly in Europe ; the withdrawal from Peru, Ireland, Tchad and Honduras, and the opening in Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Nigeria.
We want to continue with our limits, our potentialities, this evangelical quality of presence that understands, relieves, enables others to be born again and attain their dignity. The mission of tenderness and compassion has no age, no nationality, it is born from the Heart of God !