A text from Rev. Thierry de Roucy, founder of Heart’s Home.
- What is the current situation
- What are the Heart’s Homes?
- Where should the Heart’s Homes settle?
- Who will live in the Heart’s Homes?
- What kind of spirit will drive the Missionaries?
- What will the Missionaries do?
- An Community of ecclesial communion
- Practical and financial considerations
- Sending Forth Mass
- The Responsibility in the Heart’s Homes
- The Heart’s Homes Organization
- A Community as weak as a child
What is the current situation
There are children who no longer smile.
There are children who are alone in the world.
There are children who are reduced to eating dirt and garbage to ease their hunger.
There are children who are sold.
There are children who are used for playthings by wealthy people.
There are ten-year-old children who are given weapons.
There are children who are tortured.
Whenever a child is treated in this way, whenever a child is caught up in such dreadful situations, a black cloud appears on our planet, a cloud that brings shame upon the whole of humanity. Even worse, whenever a child is treated in this way, the Body of Christ is affected, wounded and disfigured.
To remedy this situation, governments take various measures; the United Nations Organization promulgates the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In addition, thousands of organizations and associations have been set up, either civil or religious, in order to give assistance to children throughout the world.
Nevertheless, the needs are still huge! This is undoubtedly why we have received the inspiration to create another small organization of mercy, which we entrust to your prayers. An organization that we hope will develop, because of our unlimited love for the children, as we understand that God is fully present in their hearts. An organization which, we hope will develop, because we believe that children are the innocent and vulnerable teachers Jesus points out to us: “Unless you change and become like little children, you cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 19: 3). It is an organization we hope will develop, because we greatly desire that the dignity of children should be fully acknowledged throughout the world. We give this organization, the eloquent name of “Points-Cœur”, or Heart’s Home, (meaning a place where the heart’s love is primary). Top of the page
What are the Heart’s Homes?
It is intended that Heart’s Homes will be small homes spread throughout the whole world. They will be simple refuges, full of love and tenderness, where any child (of the street) will have the opportunity to be loved, welcomed, listened to, and be respected; where each child will be looked at in a way which will convey to him or her the warmth of love: “Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him” (Mk 10:21).
Where should the Heart’s Homes settle?
Heart’s Homes will be set up in any dioceses where the Bishop requests their presence and are ready to welcome them. The chosen area will be where the most unfortunate of the unfortunate, the most abandoned of the abandoned children are to be found. Heart’s Homes will be as similar as possible to the surrounding houses, and those who will live in the Heart’s Homes will be called Friends of Children1 (Missionaries). They will not arrange, nor improve their home, so that it maintains a unity with those around it.
As soon as the Missionaries will arrive in the “king-like dwelling” that Providence has granted them, they will dedicate a small room or space to prayer. This place will enable them to turn unceasingly to God, but even more; it will enable the children visiting them to discover the constant presence of God in their hearts. 1.“Friends of Children” is a literal translation of the French “Amis des Enfants”, which designates the Missionaries.
Who will live in the Heart’s Homes?
In the beginning, Heart’s Homes will be founded by one or more Servants of Jesus and Mary. Thereafter, they may be founded by a group of young people, having already lived through this experience in another place, religious from other Congregations or secular priests. All of them will agree to respect the spirit and objectives of the Community.
Nevertheless, most of the Missionaries will be young people, coming from various countries, having received the call to dedicate at least one year of their life to serve the children. Their vocation will be awakened through talks, handouts, and articles. These young people will mainly be seekers of God, endowed with a real ability to adapt to different languages, cultures and customs. They will be in good health, and be particularly well balanced both psychologically and emotionally. Before they leave, those in charge of the Heart’s Home Community will discern their capacity. However, the Missionaries will not be required to have any particular qualifications as far as education, training and psychology are concerned. They will, however, be required to dare to give themselves freely, and to try to love these children as God loves them “Love one another just as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
Before leaving for the Heart’s Home to which they are assigned, the Missionaries will have spiritual preparation consisting in weekend sessions which will help them to clearly grasp the spirit of the Community. In addition, they may attend lectures and read books recommended to them so as to gain an understanding of the country to which they will be sent. And finally, it is necessary for them to speak the language of the country where they will stay, in order to express themselves. Arriving in the country where they will live, they will be welcomed and helped by those who are already settled in the Heart’s Home. For several weeks, the “elders” will help them to assume responsibility of the mission, familiarize themselves with the area, introduce the children to them, and share their own experiences. This time of transition will ensure continuity in the mission accomplished by Heart’s Homes, and ensure, as well, that the sudden departure of some of the Missionaries should not wound the children’s hearts again. We may also hope that some of the Missionaries will stay longer than fourteen months, in order to create stability in the Home.
Finally, the detailed diary kept in every Heart’s Home will help the newcomer to discover the history of the Heart’s Home, the experiences that have been tried, the persons who have been welcomed, the evolution noticed in some children’s attitudes, etc.
What kind of spirit will drive the Missionaries?
The missionaries will be driven by a genuine spirit of gentleness and humility. They will not set off as conquerors, but as servants, even as disciples. They will begin this adventure being sure that they will receive much more than they will bring, and they will already give thanks to God for calling them to this service.
These are a few points which will characterize their particular way of life:
• The Missionaries will be driven by a living faith, recognizing in each person whom they meet, the Lord present “under the appearance of children” (Father Peyriguère); they will treat him with an infinite respect, showing him his dignity as a human being and son of God. This respect will be concretely manifested in the vocabulary and tone of voice used when, speaking to―or about―the children, avoiding cruel and vulgar words. This respect will also be manifested in the way they will listen to the children, in the gestures expressing affection to them. It will be necessary, of course that, from the very beginning, the Missionaries show respect to one another as well. They will be able to carefully listen to each other. They will gently and very chastely take care of one another.
• They will try to live in the most perfect communion, forming one single heart, forgiving one another immediately when offended as often as it is needed. They shall not criticize one another but rather will encourage and esteem each other in the Lord.
• They will make sure that their way of life will never scandalize the hearts of the little ones they will serve.
• They will avoid any complaint, negative comparison with the comforts of the past, any political stand, any criticism or judgement of the people with whom they will be called to spend the year.
• They will approach the children with the Heart of Jesus, which led Him to kneel down before His disciples and wash their feet.
• They will not hesitate to explicitly transmit the Gospel to the children they will encounter, yet respecting their customs, education, etc.
• They will invoke the Virgin Mary to teach them day after day to live according to the Beatitudes, and to be truly evangelical (that is to say, bearers of the Good News) in their attitudes, reactions, words and actions.
• Despite the suffering they will encounter, and may overwhelm them, they will try in any circumstance to welcome and to bring the joy of hope to the children.
• They will celebrate the liturgical feasts with dignity, and communicate to the children the deep meaning of these celebrations. They will also try to mark, through different signs, the events of family life happening in the house, e.g., feasts, birthdays, the welcoming of a guest, etc.
• The Missionaries will not hesitate to sometimes take a day or more of community recreation. They may also, if needed, go in solitude to rest and to pray more intensely.
• Above all, the Missionaries will often gather in their chapel or in the nearest church to turn towards God, to thank Him for His goodness and His mercy, to ask Him to grant them a deep communion of spirit “It is by this sign...”, to entrust to Him all the children and the distresses that they may encounter, but also the children and the sufferings and pains of the whole world - and especially all those encountered in all the Heart’s Homes. Daily the Missionaries will pray the rosary together, as it is the prayer of the poor and humble. This prayer will draw the special presence of the Virgin Mary, the true founder of the Community, into each of these small refuges of love. In their daily meditation, the Missionaries will particularly contemplate the Lord Jesus in the Crib and on the Cross, when, more than at any other moment of His life on earth, He shows Himself as helpless, small and vulnerable. They will celebrate the morning and evening prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours. If possible, they will do their best, to attend daily Mass where they will receive the grace to give themselves up to the Father who is always present in everyone they will be sent to. They will, as well, pray for the intercession of the Holy Innocents, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, Don Bosco, Father Jean-Edouard Lamy, founder of the Servants of Jesus and Mary, and will call upon their guardian angels to guide and support them, especially in the most difficult situations.
Every Heart’s Home, in other words, is first of all a contemplative community. These words should not cause any worry! Prayer will make each one more generous and efficient, and the Holy Spirit, granting his light during prayer, will enable the Missionaries to truly discover the real needs of those who surround them.
It is certain that this experience will be a great time of growth for the young people who will devote a small part of their lives to it. It might move them, and enable them to discover what is essential in their lives, and then to consider their existence in a radically new way, with different objectives from their previous ones. As a testimony of this, let us quote this comment recently received from one of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries, staying in Calcutta: “I have the feeling that I am doing a long retreat here, for when you come in contact with the most abject poverty, you are bound to examine yourself again, and to ask what meaning you want to give to your life.”
And then there are these words from Jesus, which each Missionary is bound to experience. “Whoever welcomes a child such as this in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me, welcomes not me but the One who sent me” (Mk 9: 37).
What will the Missionaries do?
For the Missionaries the most important thing will not be to do. There are already schools, hospitals, and orphanages... Heart’s Homes will not duplicate these. They will simply be non-specialized homes where the children will know that they can always come to be listened to, loved and understood. This does not mean, of course, that when love will call them to do so, the Missionaries may not from time to time feed and nurse the children, help them in reading and writing, help them to learn with some formality or other, to welcome them for a night and to teach them catechism and prayer. Heart’s Homes will thus tend to be humble additions to the families. The Missionaries will also organize outings, games, gatherings, or any activity that could broaden the children’s horizons. To achieve this, the Missionaries will obviously need to be very flexible, constantly available, and to have a real sense of creativity.
The Missionaries will work in deep communion with the Bishop and their pastors. They will try to be closely linked to the various educational Organizations and hospitals set up in the surrounding area that they may occasionally help. In some cases, the children in need may be sent to these places to be trained and nursed. Each Heart’s Home may be thus defined as a “bridge” between the street and the parish or charity organizations.
In other words, the Missionaries shall be hearts: at the same time hearts of a father, a mother, and a brother; that can be characterized by attentive, compassionate and welcoming hearts. Most important for them will be the quality of their own presence, and the closer their presence to God is, the greater the quality of their own presence will be. In this sense, the Missionaries will be, before all, “worshippers in spirit and in truth” (John 4: 23).
We will ask the pastors who welcome Heart’s Homes to respect the Missionaries’ particular vocation and not to constantly call upon them to work in the parishes (even if their needs are great, which we understand very well), to help this or that school, association or hospital... This would distract the Heart’s Homes from their true call, and not comply with the inspiration we have been given. The Missionaries must be, as much as possible, present in the streets of their area, or in their homes, ready to welcome whoever will knock at the door...
All the Heart’s Homes shall share the same spirit. However, each one of them will have distinct activities according to the area where they will settle, and to the way the Holy Spirit will lead them. The various Heart’s Homes will correspond frequently, establishing tight bonds of friendship and thus build the spirit defining the Heart’s Home family.
A Community of ecclesial communion
It is our great desire that the Heart’s Homes organization should be a factor of unity in the Church and that this unity should be basically built around the deprived child, just as it is elsewhere constructed around the handicapped, sick or elderly people. This is why, we deeply wish that the Hearts’ Home communities will be formed of young people, coming from various – French or foreign – movements or from different other religious communities or secular institutions. Nowadays, it seems necessary that the Catholic Church should give evidence, in any way, of its desire for communion. This desire should manifest itself through times of community life when one learns to get free from preconceived opinions, to know and love oneself, to pray and to work together. The needs are so great that it is advisable to gather the strengths rather than to multiply the initiatives.
We then confide in the religious superiors and Bishops that they will allow members of their communities or their priests to have, if they wish, an experience of serving deprived children for some time in a Heart’s Home. And, certainly, although this experience might at first, seem to be a sacrifice for their congregations, will soon turn out to be great sources of grace for these same congregations, dioceses and for the whole Church.
Practical and financial considerations
The young people who will stay in the Heart’s Homes communities will be asked to pay their travel expenses whenever possible. If they have some income, they may also be asked to pay the cost of their stay. Otherwise, they will seek “sponsors” who will pledge to support the Missionary during their stay. Students, scouts and artists may also organize various activities from which the profits will be donated to the Community. However, a young person will never be prevented from experiencing this adventure within Heart’s Home because of financial difficulties. And the Heart’s Home Organization will always support any Heart’s Home in case of need and any Missionary who might be in difficulty.
On the other hand, efforts will be made to keep administration costs to a minimum, by relying as much as possible on Missionaries for the administrative and “advertising” tasks, and by simplifying the various structures as much as possible.
Sending Forth mass
Just before leaving for their assigned places the Missionaries will participate, in their countries of origin, in a sending forth mass, during which:
• The Holy Spirit will be invoked upon those who are leaving.
• The Missionaries will proclaim:
- Their will to be true servants of God, close to the children whom they will serve;
- Their will to be true witnesses of the Catholic Church, their Mother;
- Their will to remain deeply united;
- Their will to commit themselves to live during their whole stay, in a spirit of prayer, chastity, poverty and humility;
- Their full and total adhesion to the spirit of the Community.
• The celebrant will give to each one of them a rosary, which shall be the sign of the importance of the Marian prayer and of the help that the Virgin Mary will grant them. There will be an engraved heart on the cross of the rosary as a reminder of the essential gospel message and of the mission of each Missionary: “To be a heart, full heart, nothing but a heart” (Maurice Zundel).
The Responsibility in the Heart’s Homes
The founder or the President of the Organization will entitle a person to be responsible, as leader of each Heart’s Home.
This person will strive to make decisions in complete agreement with his or her companions. Each Missionary should alternately experience the responsibility of a Heart’s Home once during his year of staying.
The Heart’s Homes Organization
According to the 1901 French law, an Organization was created in France, to manage, promote, help and make known the Heart’s Home Organization as it is, in fact, not led by the Congregation of the Servants of Jesus and Mary. This Organization is composed of founding members, honorary members, active and subscribing members. The administration and information offices are in Vieux-Moulin, France and the ICCC, 2299 Ulster Heights Road, Woodbourne, NY 12788 United States.
A Community as weak as a child
I am infinitely aware of the audacity there is in founding such little refuges of love, of the weakness which will always be the lot of the Community, as it is based on Missionaries, and will have a delicate mission to perform, particularly in difficult situations of distress and suffering. Finally, I am conscious of its apparent inefficiency according to the considerations of this world, and of the constant temptation that the Missionaries will have to “do something”, to create structures, to organize activities on a long-term basis.
As long as the Community will remain faithful to the inspiration that we have been given, it will walk on water. This will require from its leaders a constant trust. But isn’t it Jesus’ call to mankind throughout the whole Gospel: “Do not worry... Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart first on the Kingdom and justice of God, and all these other things will also be given to you. Do not worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own!” (Mt 6:32-34) Isn’t it the condition―a total abandonment―for a Community such as Heart’s Home to be really prophetic?