MSC PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION
The Society of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart was founded by Fr Jules Chevalier at Issoudun, France in 1854. He had a vision of regenerating society through devotion to the Sacred Heart. Included among the ways of achieving this vision was the education of youth.
Mindful that the teaching closest to Jesus’ heart is his command to ‘love one another as I have loved you’, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart especially value love, concern, compassion, understanding, respect and acceptance of every individual.
‘I give you a new commandment:
Love one another.
Just as I have loved you,
you also must love one another.
By this love you have for one another,
everyone will know that you are my disciples.’
These qualities are enshrined in the charism handed on by Jules Chevalier and embodied in the current MSC Constitutions:
‘As Missionaries of the Sacred Heart,
we live our faith in the Father’s love
revealed in the Heart of Christ.
We want to be like Jesus who loved with a human heart;
we want to love through him and with him,
and to proclaim his love in the world.’ #10
‘Ours is a spirit of family
and a spirit of brotherhood (and sisterhood),
formed by kindness and understanding, by compassion and mutual forgiveness,
by gentleness, humility and simplicity,
by hospitality and a sense of humour.’ #11
This charism generates the spirit in which various MSC ministries are carried out. In all their ministries, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart value every human person and hold as precious the healthy growth of body, mind and spirit of each individual. In determining how best to promote this, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart recognise the importance of meeting the specific needs of our times.
‘In a constant effort to share in the
sentiments of the Heart of Christ,
we will be attentive to all human needs
and aspirations, such as:
the need to be respected as persons,
the need for love and peace,
for freedom, justice and truth,
and the search for meaning in life.
He will become all things to all people
by respecting different cultures;
and by being ready to undertake
whatever apostolic service people may need.’ #24
The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in Australia have had a long involvement in the education of youth. Beginning with an Apostolic School at Douglas Park, NSW in the 1920s, they later opened schools in Toowoomba (Downlands College), Bowral (Chevalier College), Hamilton (Monivae College), Darwin (St John’s, now a CEO school) and Canberra (Daramalan College). They also accepted responsibility for two schools in Papua New Guinea.
The Australian Catholic Church has been extensively involved in the education of youth for over 100 years. The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart still see this as an effective ministry for meeting the needs of the times. Hence, MSC schools proclaim and give witness to the love of God in our world. They seek to engender a strong belief in God’s love for all as manifested through the heart of Jesus Christ. Fortes in Fide (Strong in Faith) is the common motto of MSC schools.
Father Jules Chevalier saw particular value in the education of youth as a means of remedying the indifference of secular society to the love of God. In the first MSC Constitutions, which were approved in 1877 and which he himself wrote, we find the following:
The Society (of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart) has education as one of its principal tasks. All among us who accept the care of young people should never lose sight of the sublimity of such an important mission. Considering the great usefulness of this ministry, they will apply themselves to it with all the more keenness and zeal, in so far as it is often enough a thankless task. They should not forget that the salvation of civil and ecclesiastical society depends on the Christian education of youth. ‘Train young people in the way they should go; even when they grow old they will not swerve from it’. (Prov. 22/6). It follows from this that the main hope for the Church for better times rests on the religious education of youth.
It was also part of the vision of Jules Chevalier that the mission to regenerate society would be carried out not only by professed religious, but also by an association of lay people who would form another branch of the Congregation. Among the staff of MSC schools are lay people who share the mission and charism of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, and who work with them in a special way to proclaim and witness to the love of God.
Fr Chevalier also gives advice for those involved in the ministry of education:
‘In order that a ministry of this nature be completely fruitful, it is necessary that those among us who take it on combine forces, and work with a spirit of unity… It is also necessary that they commend themselves to their students by the goodness of their lives as well as by their teaching.
They should be tireless in teaching their students whatever is needed for them to gain academic results with distinction… And they should never forget that the first task required of them is that their students become ‘fortes in fide’ (strong in faith), dedicated with great love to the practice of all Christian virtues.’