By TAMI QUIGLEY Staff writer
This September the Lay Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (LMSC) celebrated 25 years of “being the heart of God on earth.”
LMSC, along with the MSC sisters, with whom they are associates, will culminate their year-long celebration with a special Mass and dinner Saturday, Oct. 14 at Sacred Heart Villa, Reading. MSC Father E. Michael Camilli, senior priest at Holy Guardian Angels, Reading, will celebrate the 1 p.m. liturgy, followed immediately by the dinner.
The theme of the milestone year is “From Root to Blossom to Fruit.”
“I have been a member of this beautiful family since 1992,” said Joann Rivera, coordinator of LMSC and parishioner of St. Columbkill, Boyertown.
“Sharing the MSC charism, ‘being the heart of God on earth,’ inspires me to go forth to share that wonderful news with those I meet,” Rivera said. “I am able to be the heart of God in my own little corner of the world, in the various ministries I am involved with in my own parish.”
Sharing the history of LMSC, Rivera said MSC Father Jules Chevalier founded the Society of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1854 in Issoudun, France.
“From the very beginning, Father Chevalier envisioned this society to include priests, brothers, sisters and the laity; different branches, same tree. He was convinced that only God’s love could heal the evils of his time and that this would require many missionaries.”
In 1900 the sisters were founded in Germany by MSC Father Hubert Linckins, and the sisters arrived on American shores in 1908. After the Second Vatican Council, orders were encouraged to go back to their roots.
With the encouragement of MSC Sister Teresita Nolden, the Pennsylvania Lay Missionaries of the Sacred Heart began in 1992 in Norristown, under the guidance of MSC Sister. Eileen Kantz.
“Today we are in Schuylkill County, Lehigh County, Boyertown, Reading and Willow Grove,” said Rivera. “We meet as area groups every other month and then come together at Sacred Heart Villa, Reading.”
MSC Sister Lorraine Molchanow is the group’s spiritual director.
The celebratory year kicked off Feb. 1 with Grateful Hearts Tea, enjoyed with the sisters and laity. On April 1 the LMSCs looked at their historic roots and witnessed to what it means to belong. The annual retreat and commitment, welcoming two new members, took place June 17. The planting of two trees in memory of lay and deceased lay MSCs took place Aug. 5, followed by an ice cream social with the sisters.
The year will conclude Saturday, Dec. 2 with remembrance of deceased laity and closing a time capsule.