“The Sisters belonging to this Congregation will be called APOSTLES OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS, called to imitate, within the limits of their strength and in a spirit of obedience to their legitimate Superiors, the example of the Apostles who were scattered all over the world to make the Divine Master better known and loved by all people.” (Constitutions of the Manuscript, Article 1)
Mother Clelia was a woman of prayer and faith who deeply loved the Sacred Heart, to the point of putting all her hope in him; a woman enthusiastic for life, a humble woman, an entrepreneur and a faithful servant. She founded the Congregation of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (ASCJ) on May 30, 1894, in Viareggio, Lucca, Italy. The Institute was canonically erected by Monsignor John Baptist Scalabrini in Piacenza in 1900 and obtained definitive approval four months after the death of Mother Foundress. Mother Clelia felt in her heart that she should found a work dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as she writes: “The Sisters belonging to this Congregation will be called APOSTLES OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS, called to imitate, within the limits of their strength and in a spirit of obedience to their legitimate Superiors, the example of the Apostles who were scattered all over the world to make the Divine Master better known and loved by all people.” (Constitutions of the Manuscript, Article 1)
In choosing the title of Apostles, Mother Clelia wanted her daughters to be animated by the same ardor of the first Apostles: Let us learn to be Apostles not only by name but according to the spirit of the Apostles. She wished that her daughters would bring to all people, in the various social realities, the life-giving Word, the faith that saves, the witness of courage and a love that flows from the Heart of Christ. For Mother Clelia, apostolic zeal and true communion were to be the primary characteristics of the life of her daughters as they strived to make the Heart of Jesus known and loved by all. She considered the virtue of zeal to be “a practical consequence of the great precept of charity.”
The zeal for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus led the Apostles to commit themselves to serving the needs of: orphans, the poor, the elderly, children, single mothers and young women, and to evangelization. The Congregation grew in the midst of blessings and trials, opening horizons for the future of the Apostles in the Church.
The Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus strive to internalize and to make the Congregation’s charism alive and present in the world. The motto of the Congregation is: “The love of Christ impels us.”
In response to the needs of the Church and the signs of time, the charism of Mother Clelia is present in 15 countries: Italy, Brazil, the United States, Switzerland, Argentina, Chile, Albania, Mozambique, Uruguay, Paraguay, Benin, the Philippines, Haiti , Ireland and Portugal.
The missions of the Congregation are diverse and seek to respond to the needs of the local Church. The works include: education on all levels including those who are challenged, hospital and clinical work, parish ministry, service to priests and seminarians, social and legal services, missionary work, care of the elderly, and administration in dioceses. The Apostles work with parishioners, students, those in sacramental preparation, those who are discerning consecrated life, families consecrated to the Heart of Jesus (GFASC), the sick in hospitals and homebound, the poor, immigrants and minors, prisoners, drug addicts, and victims of human trafficking.