The Children of Mary Sodality was founded in the 1830s by Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat, founder of the Society of the Sacred Heart. It was then and continues to be now an important outgrowth of the mission of the Society. Its growth followed closely the establishment of Academies and Colleges of the Sacred Heart, enabling alumnae and friends to continue their religious formation as adults. Today there are Sodality groups in several cities in the United States. They meet monthly as well as for an annual retreat or days of recollection, which foster the spiritual and apostolic lives of the members and those who join them.
In the early 1830s, young women who belonged to the Children of Mary Sodality in the academy in Lyon, France, wanted to continue their association with the sodality after they graduated. One of them wrote to Mother Madeleine Sophie Barat with three questions:
- Can we establish a sodality separate from that of the boarding school?
- Can others who did not go to a Sacred Heart school but who have the same spirit join us?
- And can these receive the same official approbation as the school sodality has?
The Foundress blessed these beginnings, requested canonical approbation, and on March 25, 1832, the delegate of the Archbishop of Lyons officially established the adult Children of Mary Sodality. Mother Barat continued to follow the development of the Sodality, seeing it as an important aspect of the mission of the Society.
That which is life-giving continues to attract. There are currently 11 groups of adult Children of Mary in:
- Atherton, California
- Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
- Grosse Pointe, Michigan
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Omaha, Nebraska
- St. Louis, Missouri
- San Francisco, California
- Seattle/Bellevue, Washington
- Washington, D.C.
All Sodality groups have a Religious of the Sacred Heart as moderator. Though independent, they all follow similar patterns:
- Monthly meetings with a liturgy, usually on the First Friday or First Saturday;
- Annual days of recollection or retreats;
- Minimal dues ($15-$30) to cover expenses.
Some of these groups have collective activities such as tabernacle sewing for mission churches, a Braille society, Scripture study groups, a library emphasizing prayer, Scripture, and Church history. All have members who work for and contribute to the charitable and mission activities of the Church. Attendance varies, and new members make their Act of Consecration and receive the traditional Child of Mary medal after a period of aspirant-ship.
For more information about the adult Children of Mary, please contact the provincial house at 314.652.1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.