History – Internationality
Sophie Barat was a woman with a very broad vision, so she was never afraid of crossing new boundaries. The particular need at the time was what decided the boundary to be crossed, whether that was providing serious intellectual education for young women of her day in France, or initiating the first major outreach to the missionary territory of the United States in 1818
During the decades following Madeleine Sophie Barat’s death the Society of the Sacred Heart continued to expand. A hallmark of these new communities was their internationality. By the end of the 19th century it had 6,649 members. With such numbers there was expansion across Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australasia.
In 1904, secularist laws in France led to a decision to evacuate all the religious in France – 2000 of them – to other parts of the world. Throughout the 20th century foundations were made by religious of different nationalities. These arose out of the desires and creativity of the religious of different nationalities and were due to the efforts of certain regions or vicariates, as they were called. From Maryville-Chicago people went to New Zealand. Louisiana set up communities in Cuba and Puerto Rico. Chile opened new missions in Peru, Uruguay and Argentina. England ventured far: to India, Australia and Malta. And in its turn Australia introduced the Society to Japan. Belgium sent religious to the Congo. Ireland/ Scottland and Australia crossed the seas to make a foundation in Uganda followed by one in Kenya.
At times when the Society suffered under communist regimes the religious moved on and went to Korea, Taiwan and Chad. In recent years the Society has begun a mission in Indonesia and in Haiti. This missionary drive has opened up possibilities to train and send young lay women to serve on a temporary basis in other parts of the world.