• December 5, 2007

Heart’s Home Charter

A text from Rev. Thierry de Roucy, founder of Heart’s Home.

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).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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?

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