Celebrating the Spirituality of the Heart – 12th to 16th October 2018



The Chevalier family hope that you were inspired through reading the posters and notices in Church and in the bulletin about the Spirituality of the Heart, then writing a prayer from your heart. Our celebration concluded last weekend with the feast day on 21 October of Blessed Jules Chevalier who died this day in 1907. There is more information available in the porch: a Guide to the ethos and principles of the MSCs, a simple pamphlet with prayers to the Sacred Heart, and the “Heart to Heart” prayer book of the MSCs. Thank you all for participating in the celebration and we particularly hope that those of you who were able to attend the liturgies and the talks found them interesting, informative and thought provoking. Fr Charles reminded us of our need to recognise God’s unconditional love, allow that love to transform our lives, and then bring that love to others.

A huge debt of gratitude is owed to all those who helped in any way to make this weekend so special and successful.


Newsletter (click to download PDF)

Celebration of the Spirituality of the Heart October 2018 Ss Alban & Stephen, St Albans (A Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Parish since 1899)

Between 11th and 16th October, the Chevalier family in Ss Alban & Stephen, St Albans, aimed to raise awareness in the parish of the Spirituality of the Heart, the ethos of Fr Jules Chevalier, founder of the MSCs. As well as providing general information, this was an opportunity for more in depth reflection. This was a follow-up to our formation weekend in June.

To prepare the parish, a series of articles were published over five weeks in the parish weekly bulletin. The church was decorated with posters displaying quotes on God’s love; an eight page information booklet titled ‘Spirituality of the Heart – A guide to the ethos and principles of the MSCs’ was produced. A simple pamphlet containing prayers to the Sacred Heart and ‘Heart to Heart’, the official MSC prayer book, were also made available. The host Chevalier Family prepared for the event through an evening of prayer and reflection on Thursday which focussed on ‘the Heart’.

On Friday 12 October, we welcomed Fr Charles Sweeney MSC, as our guest speaker, and Hannie Jensen from the Netherlands Chevalier family. After evening Mass, Fr Charles explored various types of Spirituality, how we encounter and experience the Love of God, the fundamentals of Spirituality of the Heart as lived out by MSCs both religious and lay. It challenged us to broaden our outlook and find ways to open up to God’s love. Fr Charles closed by asking us to meditate about the Sunday Gospel reading (Mark 10:17-30) to discover its true meaning in light of the evening’s revelations.

A fitting start to Saturday 13 October was the memorial Mass for Fr Thomas Duane MSC. We then followed the Way of the Cross written “for our time”; it invited us to reflect on Jesus’ suffering as it continues in the lives of his people; a powerful example of the compassion which is the Spirituality of the Heart.

Hannie opened the afternoon session reflecting on the 100th name of God. Fr Charles then invited us to reflect on our “Image of God” while considering traditional stereotyped versions (False Images of God: Distant God; Ideal God; Testing God; Fatalistic God; Philosophical God; and Santa Claus God) and discussed their limitations. He concluded that the mysterious nature of God goes far beyond human thinking but the unconditional love perpetrated by the Sacred Heart was evident in all creation.

During the weekend Masses, the congregations were invited to write a personal prayer from their hearts which were then prayed over during the days of the celebration. The childrens’ liturgy group prepared chains of expressions of love. Displays and prayers remained in Church until after the feast day of Blessed Jules Chevalier on 21 October.

Fr Charles continued our meditations on Sunday afternoon looking at ‘Images of Ourselves and How God sees us’. We were invited to portray an image of oneself and how this may be perceived by God. A lively discussion followed culminating with the realisation that: God loves me for whom I am – WHOM I AM – not what I should be! We were then set a challenging meditation inviting us to discover the secret centre of our heart where we can discover, meet and encounter God.

On Monday morning, Hannie updated the lay Chevalier family on other European groups. One of our group plans to attend the next European council meeting in May, in Lyon, France.

Our evening focus was on South Africa and the missionary work of our priests there. This was highly relevant because of the long-term support of our parish for MSC charities in Tshwaranang and Bakhita village. A display of memorabilia paid tribute to all that had been achieved both through human compassion and financial aid. Eric Harber, a parishioner who is a South African citizen and lived through the Apartheid era, gave a fascinating context to the back ground and culture affecting the university, where he worked, and church activities. Fr Jimmy Stubbs MSC spoke enthusiastically about his experience of ministry of more than 20 years in SA and the challenges he encountered. A lively Q&A session ensued with all reliving key moments and regaling us with stories from their recent history.

To conclude our events, Mass with the theme ‘Our love of neighbour should be tender-hearted and compassionate’ was celebrated on Tuesday evening. In keeping with the fundamental ideals of Jules Chevalier, all groups in the parish who work to support of the poor, needy and marginalised were invited to participate. The celebrant was Br Nelson Dionne SC, an ordained Brother of the Sacred Heart, an order that also has a community in St Albans. A letter from Andre Coindré (founder of the BSH) and an address of Pope Francis to the MSCs were read together with the gospel passage of the ‘Good Samaritan’.Br Nelson preached about the similarities in philosophies and ethos of Andre Coindré and Jules Chevalier. The whole liturgy emphasised love and devotion to the Sacred Heart. Prayers of intercession were prepared by various groups in the parish reflecting their particular ethos.

All then enjoyed a meal to celebrate both the wonderful work that goes on to help others within the parish, and also the overall success of the Spirituality events. The talks and liturgies were meaningful, thought provoking and well attended with about 80–100 different people attending at least one event. Our parishioners were very supportive, many praised the displays and quotes and the response to the ‘prayer hearts’ was tremendous with at least 300 prayers offered. The organising group were delighted with the reaction of parishioners to the whole celebration.

Lay Members of the Chevalier Family in St Albans with Hannie (3rd from right) and Fr Charles (2nd from right).