Sacred Heart of Mary, Religious of the

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The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM; Official Catholic Directory #3465), a pontifical institute of women religious, was founded in Béziers, France on Feb. 24, 1849 by a diocesan priest, Pierre Jean Gailhac (18021890), and Appollonie Cure Pelissier (18091869). Although marked for ecclesiastical advancement, Gailhac elected to devote his energies to education and to the needy. In collaboration with Appollonie Cure Pelissier, a widow who was for some years under his spiritual direction, he saw an opportunity to establish an institute for various works. Together, they shaped the vision of the institute that all might have life through knowledge and love of Godand oversaw the works of the congregation and the formation of its members.

As Mother St. Jean, Appollonie Cure became first superior general. Her death occurred as the first foundations outside France were being organized in Ireland. With her successor, Mother St. Croix Vidal, Gailhac pioneered the institute's first schools in northern Ireland (1870), Portugal (1871), England (1872), and the United States (1877) where the first foundation was in Sag Harbor, N.Y. Gailhac shared with Mother St. Felix Maymard, the succeeding general superior, the satisfaction of seeing the congregation's constitutions approved by Pope Leo XIII. When Gailhac died in 1890, he bequeathed to his community many decades of successful apostolic works and a number of spiritual writings. Mother St. Constance Farret, elected general superior in 1905, further advanced those works by establishing foundations in Spain and Brazil.

In the U.S., a period of rapid expansion began under Irish-born Mother Marie Joseph Butler, who arrived in Long Island City, N.Y. in 1903. This expansion broadened when in 1926 she was elected general superior. With the founding of Marymount Colleges, begun in Tarrytown, N.Y., in 1907, she inaugurated a network of educational institutions that her closest collaborator and successor, (in 1946) Mother Marie Gerard Phelan, extended worldwide. Mother Gerard carried the founder's cause for beatification to near completion and initiated that of Mother Butler as well.

The RSHM sisters engage in educational, pastoral and social ministries on three continents: Europe (France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, England, Wales and Scotland); the Americas (United States, Brazil, Mexico); and Africa (Mali, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe). In the U.S., the congregation has two provinces: Eastern American Province with headquarters in Tarrytown, New York, and Western American Province with headquarters in Montebello, California. The generalate is in Rome.

Bibliography: A Journey in Faith and Time: A History of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, (199093), 2v.

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Sacred Heart of Mary, Religious of the

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