Priests, Brothers, Sisters and Laity in the Footsteps of St Damien
The Congregation of the Sacred Hearts represented by the abbreviation SS.CC. after its Latin name Sacrorum Cordium, is a worldwide religious order whose mission is to contemplate, live and proclaim God's love in the world. There are over 1500 in the Congregation made up priests, brothers and sisters and an increaing number of lay associate members in over 30 countries throughout the world.
Sr Angela O'Toole sscc and Fr Michael Ruddy sscc
In Ireland, the community are involved in parish work in west Dublin, chaplaincy, pastoral care and both provincial and community houses are based in Ranelagh near Dublin city centre. The priests and brothers also have a community house near Cootehill with a pastoral outreach to the neighbouring counties of Cavan and Monaghan. This community is very involved in the development of the Damien Centre youth initiative and in supporting missionary activities overseas. Bishop Patrick Lynch of Southwark and retired Bishop Brendan Comiskey are both well-known members of the Congregation.
The Congregation has projects and communities in different places in nearly all of West-European countries, in North and South America, in Southern Africa, Asia (India; Indonesia, Japan, Philippines) and on the following islands, Cook isles, Tahiti, Hawaii and New Zealand. In England, the congregation is active in parish work in Ealing, and Acton West London.
Perhaps the best known member of the Congregation is Fr Damien de Veuster SS.CC. of Molokai (1840-89) also known as the ‘leper priest’. He was considered to be the Mother Theresa of his time and spent over 16 years of his life selflessly caring for over 8000 leprosy patients banished to the leprosy colony of Molokai in the Hawaiian Islands. Eventually he succumbed to the illness himself and died in 1889 on Molokai. He was canonised by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome on October 11th 2009.
Fr Eustaquio Van Lieshout ss.cc (1890-1943) is another famous member of the Congregation who was beatified in 2005. He was born in Aarle-Rixtel (Holland), in the diocese of Hertogenbosch, on the 3rd of November 1890 and was baptized on that same day. At his baptism he was given the name Humberto.
His life can be divided into two great periods: the time that he spent in his own country (1890-1924) and his time as a missionary in Brazil (1925-1943)
The Spanish Martyrs: During the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, and especially in the early months of the conflict, individual clergymen were executed while entire religious communities were persecuted, leading to a death toll of 13 bishops, 4,172 diocesan priests and seminarists, 2,364 monks and friars and 283 nuns, for a total of 6,832 clerical victims, as part of what is referred to as Spain's Red Terror.
Many of these martyrs have already been canonised. In June 2012, the Spanish Bishops Conference announced that the latest Spanish Martyrs’ beatification will take place on Sunday October 27, 2013. Later it was decided that the ceremony will take place in Tarragona, which is located approximately 100 kilometers south of Barcelona.
Among the martyrs to be beatified next October are five members of our Congregation; Teófilo Fernández de Legaria Goñi, Isidro Íñiguez de Ciriano Abechuco, Gonzalo Barrón Nanclares, Eladio López Ramos and Mario Ros Ezcurra. These five men – along with many others – witnessed to their faith with their own blood in a painful situation of confusion, persecution and violence.
The site chosen for the beatification has a great history of Christian faith and martyrdom, like the Hispanic protomartyrs: Fructoso, Bishop of Tarragona and his two deacons Augurio and Eulogio. The Office for the Causes of Saints of the Spanish Episcopal Conference and the host diocese are in charge of organizing the event.
Our martyred brothers died as believers. They fulfilled the desire, which our recent General Chapter also speaks to us about: "Our desire, expressed in the formula of profession, is to live and die in the service of the Sacred Hearts. When the end of life draws near, what we want to do is prepare ourselves to die as believers and to make of our death an act of praise for the God who loves us. In that way, our death will be a witness to Christ, a final act of mission" (Mission 37)
Novices of the Sacred Hearts Congregation from Ireland and Spain
The Ireland-England Province has its provincial and sector houses based at Ranelagh near the city centre of Dublin for both priests and brothers as well as the sisters. There are currently 23 male members and 16 female members involved in a range of ministries from school chaplaincy and retreat work, parish and pastoral support activities as well as missionary support programmes. There are over 30 Lay Associates attached to the Congregation with an active English and Irish-based lay ministry.
The Congregation (SS.CC.) worldwide has its governing structures based in Rome. Ireland and England constitute one of the many global Provinces. The sisters form part of a Western European Sector and have recently left England to consolidate their community in Dublin. The Congregation has been present in the UK since 1956 and in Ireland since 1948 where it had a strong presence in the Cootehill area of County Cavan having a large seminary and novitiate based at nearby Tanagh. Today the seminary is being used as an outdoor adventure run by the local educational authority and an adjacent property called Damien House is used as a retreat location.