A Call of the Heart

A Call of the Heart

Vocation literally means a calling. Jules Chevalier, a young Frenchman, born in 1824, heard God calling him to live his Christian life in the service of others. In his life and time that led him first to the diocesan seminary, then to a parish in central France and eventually to founding a religious movement that would spread to over 50 countries across the World.

One part of this movement was a group of priests and religious brothers called the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. This movement also included two groups of religious women the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart and the MSC Sisters. Over the years other religious groups sprang from this movement. Other branches from this tree were groups of lay men and women inspired by Chevalier’s vision. That vision was of a World ruled by love. From the heart of Christ Chevalier saw a new World emerging. “From the pierced heart on Calvary I see a new world emerging, And this creation, so fertile, full of grandeur, and inspired by love and mercy, is the Church, the mystical body of Christ which makes this new creation present on Earth.”

Chevalier’s vision came from his personal experience of the unconditional love of God. That is to say that God puts no conditions on His love for us. God does not say, I will only love you if you do this or when you do that. God loves us before we do anything. Chevalier experienced this love during a retreat in the seminary. He wanted to share this love with everyone. (Hence the MSC motto, May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be everywhere loved.) From this experience came a desire to love others as fully as he had been loved by God. This same desire is expressed in the First Letter of St. John,

“My dear people

Since God has loved us so much

We too should love one another” (1. Jn. 11)

For Chevalier this way of loving required him to embrace the call to be the Heart of God in his World. Being a person of heart involves working for truth, justice and peace. Above all, for Chevalier, this way of being in the World is based on compassion. Literally this means empathising with the suffering of others and allowing our heart to go out to them. Chevalier in his day worked with a lot of people who had lost faith in life, love and God through their experiences of war and revolution in the France and Europe of his time.

In Ireland one of the places the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart(MSC) work is Killinarden in West Dublin. It is in one of the ten poorest local areas in the country. We have ministered in the parish here for more than 40 years.  One of our brothers Giacomo Gelardi MSC (pictured below) works with some of those in greatest need in the area.  Giacomo writes of his work in Killinarden.

“The issues encountered in Killinarden range from material and financial poverty, to unemployment; from joyriding, to drug dealing; from poor mental health, to families shattered by addiction with resulting child neglect or, worse, abuse.

As everyone is God’s child and has the right to a dignified life, we make sure that there is enough food and heating in the house; in some occasions we have also provided furniture. At the same time we offer a safe place to talk, to listen to as well as to encourage, and if necessary to refer people to experts and professionals.

During the school closure in the lockdown, there has been a high risk that children might miss out on their daily hot meal. Thus, supported by the local Gaelscoil, we began to provide food hampers to the most disadvantaged families. ‘Masked up’ and sanitiser in hand, we shop, pack and deliver. This is also an opportunity for outreach, to keep the relationship with the families alive, otherwise this would be next to impossible due to the restrictions. In most cases we are the only people knocking at the door and willing to exchange a few words and listen to their stories. People do not miss the chance to let out their frustration, tiredness and anger due to the isolation”.   Giacomo Gelardi MSC


As a World we have been through a hard year. We have witnessed the devastating impact of the virus on families, on businesses, schools and the very fabric of our society.  Many families have experienced the death of a loved one, finding it difficult to fully grieve their loss. Social isolation and financial insecurity have caused deep distress, undermining health and well-being.

In the midst of all this difficulty can we hear the voice of God calling us? Calling us to reassess our priorities in life? Calling us to treat one another better, to treat the Earth better?

These strange times may be inviting you to reassess your relationship with God and with God’s world. Perhaps you have experienced the loss of a loved one. Perhaps you find yourself grieving, confused and unsure of what life is all about.  Perhaps the pandemic has made you reassess your life and to ask, what am I being asked to do with my life?   You are not alone in your wondering and confusion.  Often the beginning of a call of God, a vocation, comes in the midst of change and confusion.  It may be that you are being invited to find the meaning of your life among like-minded people and to live and serve God as a member of a religious order. As Missionaries of the Sacred Heart we try to respond to God’s call with hope, with generosity and above all, with love.

To explore a calling or learn more about us, please write vocations@mscmissions.ie or visit www.mscmissions.ie.