Lay Gathering and Commissioning of the Australian National Council of the Laity of the Chevalier Family, 13th – 15th September

Many Hearts United as One

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Report by Alison McKenzie.

After many months of diligent and prayerful work by a steering committee composed of lay and professed members of the FDNSC and MSC family, a document of National Guiding Principles to underpin the establishment and operation of the National Council of the Laity of the Chevalier Family was released over the weekend and the Australian Council members were blessed and commissioned during the final liturgy.

The preamble to the Guiding Principles describes the identity of the National Council of the Laity of the Chevalier Family as:

… a private association of the Christian Faithful (Canon 215), motivated by and consistent with “General Guiding Principles and Statutes of the Laity of the Chevalier Family”. These guiding principles were approved by the gathering of Laity of the Chevalier Family, Sao Paulo, Brazil, July 2017.

The document also elaborates the Vision of the National Council as:

  • To look for ways to support and encourage growth of Spirituality of the Heart. This may be through outreach to past students, to parishioners with/without previous connections of Spirituality of the heart and other newer areas of evangelisation and apostolate where people associated with MSC/OLSH charism are involved.
  • To represent all members of the Laity of the Chevalier Family but not every group will have a member on the Council
  • To seek to ensure that all members of the Laity of the Chevalier Family are communicated with and their views represented in matters considered by the Council.
  • Members have the right to, and are encouraged to co-opt expertise outside the council to assist in this process.
  • To acknowledge and endorse the administration of each of the aforementioned groups as considered appropriate.

Close to 60 people gathered at St. Mary’s Towers, Douglas Park for the weekend. This was a historical moment in the life of the Australian Chevalier Family as the laity associated with the MSC and FDNSC the MSC sisters come together in a retreat that recollected and celebrated our shared history and affirmed our shared charism as people of the Sacred Heart. The image and symbol of a loaf of bread being created was be the thread that tied the retreat together and become the bread we broke and shared at Eucharist.

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We articulated our particular spirit as lived by lay people deeply immersed in a troubled but beautiful world as being guided by the following principles:

                We must work together to find language and symbol and metaphor that describes our lay experience of God’s love.  We must be alert to the possibility of God’s call in the lives of our friends and families and not be afraid to suggest that the spirit may be moving in that persons’ life.

                We must develop relevant and accessible rituals that enable secular people, who may not connect with the institutional church, to give expression to their longings and to deepen their experience of God.

                We must form open and welcoming communities, that actively seek to do as Chevalier said: to answer the needs of the people of our time.

                We must engage deeply with the Eucharistic and Sacramental structures of our church, but be brave enough to recognise that God’s spirit is not restricted to those places, and our call as a Eucharistic people is to be deeply fed and nourished, so we can leave the four walls and go out into the hungry and suffering world, as Jesus did.

                At the centre of it all must be a focus on the Jesus of the Gospels and his call to us and on the imperative to develop a deep and personal life of prayer – however we can in our lay lives. The sisters and the priests and brothers have a Novitiate that teaches them to pray and a community life that fosters the on-going practice of prayer. We can do nothing unless we find our own way of deep, daily prayer – and     that usually means some form of silent presence to God.

Perhaps these words will begin discernment of a Constitutions for the Laity of the Chevalier Family.

At this stage the members of the Australian National Council of the Laity are:

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Fred Stubenrauch – chair of the MSC Lay and Professed Council and Chair of the Steering Committee to formulate the Guiding Principles.

Paul Compton – founding member, Lay MSC.

Thomas Hodgson – past student, Downlands College

Aidan Johnson – Leader, Heartworks Community, Lay MSC member

Ellen-Mary Lowman – OLSH Associate member

Anne Marmion – Chair, Parish Council, St Thomas the Apostle Parish, Blackburn

Chris McDermott – Principal, Chevalier College.

Jenny Missen – Lay MSC member.

Narita Perrotta – Director Findon/Hindmarsh parish, member MSC Parishes Committee.

Therese Poulton – OLSH Associate member

Spiritual Accompanier: Fr Peter Carroll msc

We are hoping to include a lay member of the MSC Sisters in the near future.


We see the following as members of the Chevalier Family

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  • · Formal Lay MSC/OLSH (i.e. those individuals who have been approved by provincial administrations)
  • · MSC/OLSH School students, teachers and alumni
  • · MSC/OLSH Parish members
  • · MSC/OLSH Missions
  • · Heartworks and MSC/OLSH youth outreach
  • · Individuals and other groups who identify with the Lay Chevalier Family and who are recognised by others as such

As we write this article that reflects the on-going emergence of the laity as a movement within the Chevalier Family we honour, respect and give thanks to the witness of the MSC, FDNSC and MSC sisters who have gone before, and, in particular, to those who have contributed to our growth and formation over many years.

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May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be loved everywhere.