Giving thanks for the collaborative support of religious women
On the occasion of the anniversary of Fr. Leo John Dehon’s first profession on June 28, 1878, and with it, the founding of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, in the name of the U.S. Province, sent a letter of thanks to the religious sisters who have collaborated with congregation in the United States. The following is the text of that letter:
As the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart celebrates the anniversary of its founding on June 28, I wish to offer you heartfelt thanks for your collaboration in ministry.
On this day in 1878, Fr. Leo John Dehon professed his first vows. As founder, Fr. Dehon was very much aware of the support he received, particularly from women religious. Reflecting in 1914 on the establishment and growth of the Congregation, he noted, “Two religious families in particular have been like co-foundresses of our society.” These two communities, the Servants of the Heart of Jesus and the Victims of the Sacred Heart of Jesus not only shared a similar spirit, but also their prayer, sacrifices, ministry, and material resources.
In addition, “other devout communities promised us union in prayers and sacrifices” such as Daughters of the Heart of Jesus, the Adoration Reparatrice community, Visitation Sisters, Poor Claires, and Dominicans. Franciscan Missionaries of Mary ministered with the Priests of the Sacred Heart in their first foreign mission in the Congo.
“You understand,” Fr. Dehon wrote to his spiritual sons, “why we pray each day for our Sisters. We have commitments and duties towards communities that help us in various degrees.” As our international Congregation started ministering in the United States in the 1920’s, religious women continued to assist us, beginning with the Franciscan Sisters of Glen Riddle, Pennsylvania, who helped staff our Native American school in Chamberlain, South Dakota.
And so, in the name of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, I wish to honor your religious commitment and express my gratitude for your ministry with us.
The Church, both as an institution and as the People of God, is enriched by the witness of your life and work. As you are a blessing to the people whom you serve, may you in turn be blessed with a deep abiding sense of God’s love and care for you. May we be united in proclaiming God’s love for all people.
Fr. Stephen Huffstetter, SCJ
Provincial Superior, U.S. Province