The Apostle Tradition
The motto of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, "Caritas Christi Urget Nos," means The Love of Christ Impels Us. Since their founding in 1894 in Italy, the Apostles have served the people of God wherever they have been called, in fulfillment of their mission to "make the compassionate heart of Christ better known, loved, and served." (Mission statement) This calling led the sisters, at that time known as the "Apostolic Sisters of the Sacred Heart" across the ocean to Brazil in 1900, and then to Boston two years later. Those first missionaries were sent to serve the immigrant population in the Boston area. The original 6 sisters were joined by 9 more within two years. They ran a day nursery and convalescent hospital in addition to offering catechism, sewing, and Italian language classes. The sisters also opened a Novitiate for the formation of new sisters who entered the congregation. In 1905 there were 30 sisters.
By 1906, the sisters were making preparations for their second mission in the U.S. at St. Michael's Church in New Haven, CT, establishing a convent on Olive St. By 1908, however, circumstances outside their control caused the sisters to leave Boston entirely and establish their novitiate at 295 Green Street in New Haven. At that time, the Greene Street mission was not yet known as the Provincialate because the United States was not recognized officially as a "province" of the institute until 1931.
In those early years in New Haven, the Sisters ran a day nursery st St. Michael's parish and operated the Sacred Heart Orphanage on Greene Street. The sisters' second mission was the establishment of a grammar school for St. Michael's in 1936, with the first classes conducted at the Sacred Heart Convent until a school building was completed in 1940.
By the mid-1940s, with the placement of orphans in foster homes, plans were made to close the orphanage and utilize the Greene Street building for the establishment of the first all-girls high school in New Haven, Sacred Heart Academy.
From New Haven, the sisters expanded their works to six other states by the 1950s. At this time the sisters were known as the "Missionary Zelatrices of the Sacred Heart" (MZSH). With the growth of the province, both in sisters and in works, the Greene Street convent and school were no longer suitable. Ground was broken for the new provincialate on Cherry Hill in nearby Hamden in 1950. Mount Sacred Heart was dedicated in 1953. Construction began on the new Sacred Heart Academy within a few years, with SHA moving to the property in 1958.
The love of Christ has impelled the Apostles to serve God's people, from the humble calling of the first young women over 100 years ago, to the visionary leaders throughout the years who saw a need and filled it, to the present-day Apostles who continue the tradition. At Sacred Heart Academy, "Caritas Christi Urget Nos" has given rise to "Excelsior"—Ever Higher!
The Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus presently serve on five continents and have their Generalate in Rome, Italy. The present Superior General is Mother Clare Millea, ASCJ, an American and a Sacred Heart Academy alumna. Extensive information on the Apostles' history, charism, and present ministries is available on the website of the United States Province, www.ascjus.org.