The Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were founded by Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in 1880 with the purpose to be “bearers of the love of Christ to the world.” They are an international missionary congregation of women religious present in 15 countries and on 6 continents. The Sisters serve in the United States, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. In Africa, they minister in Ethiopia and Swaziland. In Europe, their missions are in Italy, Switzerland, Spain, England and Russia. The Sisters are also missioned in Australia.
Mother Cabrini left a distinguished network of schools, orphanages and hospitals that would need continuing leadership, care and maintenance by the Missionary Sisters in concert with dedicated lay women and lay men. However, Mother Cabrini wanted to leave much more than her network of institutions to her daughters; she wanted to leave them with a heritage that entrusted them with her charism of love and missionary zeal.
The Cabrinian mission is comprised of actions that flow from values in the life and teaching of Jesus. The Missionary Sisters strive to respond to others with compassion and to serve with excellence. They seek to communicate God’s personal love in ways that touch hearts, inspire deeper relationships with God and foster the authentic human and spiritual development of themselves and others.
Cabrinian Missionary Identity
As Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Sisters' identity is expressed through ministry, spirituality and community (MSC). This is the Cabrinian identity and every vowed member participates fully in this identity. The core of their work is made up of:
(M) – Ministry. The Heart of Jesus asks the Sisters in every way to communicate the love, compassion and mercy of God. Their response to this invitation is all encompassing, creative and unique to each, while at the same time being personal and specific, as they seek to reach out to those in need today.
(S) – Spirituality. Spirituality describes their relationship with God and how that influences the choices they make. The Sisters are drawn by the Sacred Heart of Jesus that is reflective of His mercy, compassion and reconciliation. Most importantly, they are drawn by His love that is willing to sacrifice.
(C) – Community. Their communities are as diverse as the women who comprise them. Jesus and His mission are the unifying forces that draw them together in prayer, companionship, ministry and the on-going transformation of lives.
Mother Cabrini teaches her daughters the importance of acting in fidelity to the charism, while the Sacred Heart is the foundation in fidelity to God, the church and to humanity who need their help. As Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, they further commit themselves to three vows: poverty, chastity and obedience. These vows are taken within accordance of the MSC Constitution. The Sisters are challenged to seize the grace moment.
The Sisters and their laity are called to combine forces with an open heart and mind in order to meet their objectives. They display courage to overcome their resistances, fears and difficulties. They are open to new things that come from the spirit in order to cultivate life, love and solidarity. As MSC's, the Sisters can be missioned at anytime, anywhere around the world, in dialogue with their Superiors.
The Missionary Sisters Today
Inspired by the legacy of their founder, the Missionary Sisters reach out locally and beyond. In centers throughout the world, MSC missionary endeavors strive to keep pace with the rigorous demands of change. They respond to the cry of the poor and the most vulnerable in society while maintaining a continuity of spirit that is personal and life-giving in its approach. The most vulnerable may include the marginalized, women, children, at risk elderly, the immigrant and the refugee.
Here in Chicago, the Missionary Sisters’ current missions include work in the areas of healthcare, social service, spirituality and pastoral care. There is also outreach to the community and the broader immigrant population. We believe there are not many places where a saint once actually lived, worked and died. The corner of Lakeview and St. James Place is sacred space and holy ground since Mother Cabrini once walked on these streets tending to the physical and spiritual needs of many. The Shrine’s spiritual and pastoral ministry, along with its’ landmark presence, continues the legacy that began on this holy ground over 100 years ago.