Our History...Our Tradition as Brothers of the Sacred Heart
Father Andre Coindre, founder of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, was born in Lyon, France, in 1787. Devoting his life to the restoration of the Church following the Reign of Terror at the end of the French Revolution, his chief mission became the moral, intellectual, and religious development of young orphan boys left in distress by the consequent disintegration of family life.
Father Coindre had envisioned a community of Brothers trained to work with the poor through the establishment of schools; in 1821 that dream became a reality with the formation of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. After Father Coindre's death in 1826 and at the end of Father Francis Coindre's administration, Brother Polycarp, our first Brother Superior General, assumed leadership of the struggling community. His tenure was marked by a period of tremendous growth. By the time of his death in 1859, the Institute had grown to over 400 Brothers in 70 schools.
In January of 1847 at the request of Bishop Portier, five missionary Brothers of the Sacred Heart arrived in Mobile, Alabama, to begin charitable and educational work. With a presence in the United States, the congregation began its transformation into a worldwide institute, spreading throughout North America in the South, New York and New England areas and into Canada.
Tradition Becomes the Future
As a privileged expression of the Christian vocation received at Baptism, the religious life is very precious to today's Church because the Lord's own holiness shines upon it and reflects out to others. Religious, in their desire to follow Christ, the source of true happiness, fix their gaze on the world to come. Father Coindre, whose motto was "courage and confidence," gave of himself to a point of exhaustion to the service of the Church. He continues to be a model for the members of your Institute, so I want to encourage the Brothers to be faithful to their religious commitment "in the spirit of total self-giving to Christ and the Church." I urge them to accomplish lovingly what has been confided to them in their diverse services, "true ecclesial ministries."-- Letter from Pope John Paul II to Rev. Brother Bernard Couvillion, on the occasion of the 175th anniversary of our foundation.