Bishop William Stang, first Bishop of the Fall River Diocese in
Massachusetts, had been a student at the Catholic University of Louvain.
While there, he met members of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts.
After his installation as bishop, he was faced with a shortage of priests and a
multi-lingual diocese. He invited the Congregation to come to the Diocese
to help minister to these communities and to establish parishes. The
Congregation responded to his request by sending the first three priests in
Fathers Stanislaus Bernard, Hilarion Eikerling and Bernard Pierson arrived in
Boston in March 1905 after having spent six months in Portugal in language
studies. They already spoke French, English and German. Immediately
on their arrival, they established two parishes, Saint Joseph in Fairhaven for
French and Portuguese Catholics and Our Lady of the Assumption in New Bedford
for Cape Verdeans. Within a year, Father Eikerling had established Saint
Boniface for German Catholics in New Bedford.
This was the beginning of the Sacred Hearts mission in Massachusetts.
From this simple beginning, the Sacred Hearts established a college and ten
other parishes and missions that eventually matured into parish communities.
While these local developments were underway, the Sacred Hearts opened missions
across the United States and in Ireland, England, Japan, South Texas, the
Bahamas, India, and Ecuador. The mission to the United States was made a
province in the 1950's and loaned priests and brothers to further the worldwide
mission to such places as Chile, Australia, and even Rome. In 1970, the
United States Province was subdivided into the Provinces of USA East, USA West,
Ireland-England, and the Vice Province of Japan.
The restructuring of the Congregation is always defined by the needs of the
Church and our capacity to respond to those needs. The Eastern United
States Province, having been divided in 1970, now is engaged in the
restructuring of our missions in Asia. This means our relationship with
our missions in Japan, India and the Philippines will change as the Asians organize themselves in new ways in service to the mission.
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From the very beginning, the Founders wished to have the Holy See assign a
foreign mission to the Congregation. In 1825 their prayer was answered and
the Congregation was given the eastern Pacific Ocean, then known as French
Polynesia. The Founders established mission headquarters in Honolulu
(in the then-Sandwich Islands) and Papetee, Tahiti.
Today, the Congregation serves in more than 30 countries worldwide.
Each of the 16 Provinces (administrative subdivisions) of the Congregation is
responsible for one or more foreign missions. In addition, some Provinces
collaborate in common mission projects.
The Eastern United States Province administers foreign missions in The
Bahamas, India, and Japan. Our mission in the Philippines is a
collaborative effort with our General Government, the Vice Province of Japan,
and the Indonesian Province.
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