Associates of the Sacred Heart are women and men who are attracted by and live the spirituality of the Society of the Sacred Heart. There is a profound sense of mutuality between RSCJ and Associates because our common mission is to discover and make known the love of the heart of Jesus. We give witness to the love of God expressed in Jesus, in humanity, and in creation. This love calls us to collaborate in God’s transformation of our lives and the world around us.
What does it mean to be "in association"?
The concept of Association is not new and has taken various forms since the twelfth century: third orders, secular societies and oblates, for example. But the current expression of religious-lay collaboration, commonly referred to as Association, is unique in the history of the Church. It is rooted in Vatican II, which defined the laity as the “people of God,” fellow journeyers, collaborating in prayer and mission with religious and clergy. At the same time, Vatican II directed religious communities to renew themselves in the light of the charism of their founders, and this opened the possibility for new kinds of mutual relationships between religious and the laity to flower.
Association is not a program, but a journey of conversion together with a specific religious order. Association is a spiritual renewal process that helps us develop a closer relationship with Christ and with one another.
The projection for the number of vowed religious in 2022 is below 7000. The Associate movement in North America has grown from just under 11,000 in 1992 to a projection of more than 75,000 by 2022 (from NACAR and a CARA study). So association is a worldwide phenomenon that is helping to keep alive the charism of each religious order as numbers of vowed religious decline.
Since the General Chapter of 2000 there has been an international call for groups of Associates. At present there are thirteen groups in the United States-Canada Province with about 140 members. While local groups have their own ways of living the call to make God’s love known in the world, they find common ground in the Associates Identity Statement. Key points include a commitment to personal prayer, spiritual formation, regular attendance at the group’s gatherings and “attentiveness to the needs of the world.”
St. Madeleine Sophie’s message reminds us to “Let love be your life.” Together with the RSCJ, this is our energy, our focus, our call. If you would like to know more about the Associates of the Sacred Heart, check out our blog. If you would like an associate coordinator to contact you, please contact the associates coordinator in your area. That information is found here.
Catherine Kinabrew shared a few thoughts on her life with RSCJ in a brief reflection, "Breathing the Same Air."