April 25, 2019
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DR#: 6 Community of Apostolate: Witness, Common Vision


Father André Coindre’s apostolic vision was deeply rooted in a spirituality of love which moved him, and in turn, the communities he founded, to reach out to those young people most in need.  He inspired, encouraged, and guided the directors of those communities, charging them to inspire, encourage, and guide their Brothers and Sisters.  He insisted that his religious live in communities and that their lives together as prayerful apostles give public witness.  Moreover, Father Coindre believed strongly in committee work and did not limit membership on committees to his religious.  Rather, he involved laypeople in all of his projects, and therefore, in his mission.

Father Coindre valued developing relationships with all those with whom he came in contact – with young people, with the Brothers and Sisters, with benefactors, and with civil and church authorities. With his outgoing personality and firm belief in the dignity of all people, Father Coindre was at home with many different kinds of people – from the young in prison to those who wielded power. 

Readings in this unit, especially those from the Rule of Life, will show that the apostolic vision of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart is communal in nature.  No true ministry of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart is ever individual.  Rather, their ministries are shaped by the community.  The Rule assures that the Brothers meet regularly to review their attitudes and actions and examine in the presence of God and each other their apostolic objectives and availability. (Rule 27)  This ongoing discernment is done in the local community and at the level of the province and institute.  Thus, no apostolic project is isolated, but networked with the larger vision of the institute and in solidarity with its vision.

Further, the province and institute are linked to the mission of the Church.  In keeping with the guidelines of Vita Consecrata, the Brothers’ apostolic charism is shared with their lay colleagues in a spirit of cooperation and communion.  It is also clarified and completed by laypeople so that together, the Brothers and those who join them in the mission of Christian education of youth might render a more effective witness.

Through this experience, the participant will:

  • appreciate how and why the vision of the Brothers’ apostolate is always communal;
  • understand that leadership is charged with creating an atmosphere that fosters unity of thought and action;
  • realize the importance of developing relationships with parents, teachers, students, and local people; and
  • understand the contributions of laypeople to the Brothers’ apostolic vision.
  • Rule of Life: Articles #24, 27-30; 47-51; 93; 156-158
  • Formation Guide: Articles #5, 85.3-4, 132; 135-140
  • André Coindre: Writings and Documents 1  Letters, 1821-1826: p. 97  letter of December 18, 1823
  • Memoirs of Brother Xavier: pp. 37-38
Suggestions for Journal Reflection
  1.  Why are spirituality, team spirit and communal apostolic witness linked in a Brothers’ school
  2. The Brothers’ Rule of Life charges the local director to animate the Brothers in his community toward a unity of thought and action so that their public witness is consistent with the religious ideals to which they have committed themselves. How are school leaders today called upon in a similar way to serve as the schools’ spiritual leaders and to safeguard the school’s stated mission? 
  3. Coindre insisted on a team effort and a team spirit.  As a school leader, how do you help your colleagues develop a team spirit and overcome attitudes such as “my course,” “my classroom” or “my project”?  What concepts from the Formation Guide or in Attentive to the Spirit might be helpful in your work with faculty?
  4. How might leaders today encourage initiatives and welcome creative thinking without compromising the unity of a common vision?

  “The Brothers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus will often recall these words of Jesus Christ: ‘I have come to bring a fire upon the earth and how I wish it were already kindled.’   They shall strive to spread this fire in all hearts, having first themselves been kindled by the fire of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  The words ‘Behold this heart which has loved so much and which has received only ingratitude in return’ should challenge them always.  They shall lovingly bear this divine yoke and the inestimable graces which flow from it.”  

André Coindre, Writings and Documents 2, First Rules, p. 25

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Lord, enkindle in me the fire of your divine love, 

a love freely given and humbly received.

Thank you, Lord, 

for allowing me to share in your sacred ministry 

of leading and forming others 

who have been called to follow the same educational mission

that I have dedicated my life to,

the same mission that we have inherited from Rev. André Coindre

 Inspire me with his zeal, Lord.

Give me the graces necessary

to adapt his ideas boldly to the circumstances of our time,

to form witnesses ready to work as a team of apostles 

to spread your divine love to the young people in our care.

Energize me Lord.

Fill me with enthusiasm 

for modeling communal witness 

so that others may see you in me 

and be drawn closer to you through me.

I know, Lord,

that the leadership work you call me to do is not my own, but yours,

and this knowledge gives me strength and confidence

I ask, Lord, 

only to do your will as revealed to me in communal discernment.

I trust, Lord, in your divine providence 

to fill me with the courage necessary

to lead with joy and peace that only you can give.


Rule of Life
Community of Apostolate: Witness, Common Vision

24. Building Community

    We grow in the spirit of brotherhood
    through a common search for God.
    Together we discover the Lord and his gifts
    building up the community
    through people and events.
    Praying together
    and listening together to the Scriptures
    reinforce our bonds of friendship.
    Our celebration of the Eucharist,
    the efficacious sign of our unity in love,
    makes us more aware of our presence
    at the heart of the Christian community.
    Strengthened by the bread of life,
    broken and shared,
    we go out as a team of apostles
    to those who seek our presence and our help.

27. Discernment and Progress

    Christ is present among us
    whenever we gather for community meetings
    to deepen our faith
    and our sense of mission.
    We direct our apostolic effort first of all
    toward making our own community dynamic.
    We periodically meet to review
    our community attitudes and actions.
    In the presence of God and of one another
    we are willing to examine
    our apostolic objectives,
    projects, and availability.

28. A Service of Animation

    The director animates the local community.
    He sustains and coordinates our efforts
    to reach the fullness of love.
    He works at maintaining
    unity of thought and action.
    We all help him to create
    the religious atmosphere
    and the human conditions
    conducive to seeking and doing
    the will of God.

29. An Open Community

    The local community is not turned in on itself.
    Rather, it adopts as its own
    the spiritual and apostolic goals
    of the province
    and of the whole Institute.
    Furthermore, a true fraternal community
    sensitizes its members
    to the needs of the world
    and leads them to give of themselves
    in carrying out the mission of the Church.

30. Community Witness

    The life-giving love and the worship given God
    within our communities
    can have a positive influence
    on the other members of the Church.
    Our community life in brotherhood
    reveals the communal dimension
    of the call to be a Christian;
    it becomes a sign of God's presence
    in the world.
    Our communal lifestyle
    is the most effective invitation to others
    to embrace the religious state.

Community of Apostolate

47. The brothers live in community to support one another and to have an influence for good on the people among whom they live and work.

48. Whether they work within the community or outside of it, the brothers give witness to a life wholly consecrated to God and neighbor.

49. The brothers have a preference for communal apostolic works, in which they develop a team spirit to increase their effectiveness.

50. The brothers actively support the interests of the poor, the oppressed, and the neglected.

51. The brothers generously respond to the missionary needs of the Church and make efforts to interest the Christian community in these needs.


93. The brothers are attentive to the less-favored parts of the Institute, as well as of persons, groups, and peoples who are suffering. In preparing budgets at every level they take into account the demands of the poverty they profess and of the witness to be given to the people in the area where they live.


156. School Community

    Christian education cannot easily be realized
    without the witness of a school community
    which is built on close relationships
    among teachers, parents, students,
    and the local people.
    We wholeheartedly support the establishment
    of programs for participation and animation
    which give dynamism
    to the school community,
    especially through the search
    for a common educational vision.

157. Christian Mission of the School

    We share with the lay teachers
    the responsibility for the religious
    and moral formation of the students,
    creating an atmosphere
    of understanding and generosity
    which awakens in young people
    a sense of community
    and a desire to serve others.
    In this way, we are helping
    to form a dedicated laity
    and to develop religious,
    priestly, and missionary vocations.
    We are also supplementing
    the formation given in the family
    and carrying out
    the educational mission of the Church.

158. Education in the Faith

    Christian education is often associated
    with schooling and cultural development.
    It fills the school with the spirit of the Gospel.
    We carry out our role as educators in the faith
    especially through the teaching of religion,
    which leads the young
    to an enlightened and close union with Christ.
    To accomplish this goal and to kindle
    in our students a desire for the interior life,
    it is essential
    that we cultivate a dynamic relationship
    both with them and with the Lord.

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Formation Guide of the Institute
Brothers of the Sacred Heart

Rome, 1991

Formation according to a spirituality

    1. Our spirituality is Christocentric, that is, centered on the person of Christ. Therefore, it is, for us, Christian, distinctly apostolic, and nuanced by its own specific character: the love that reveals to us the open Heart of Christ.

For us, it is a matter of living according to a spirituality of love that flows from the contemplation of the mystery of the Heart of Christ in the Gospel. We are motivated and inspired by the spirituality of the Heart of Christ.

Our vocation in the Institute of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart has its origin and development from the Heart of Jesus (172). Christ, in his mystery of love, thereby holds a primordial place in our lives as Brothers of the Sacred Heart. He is at the center of our motivations and he is our reference point, just as he is at the origin of our total self-giving and apostolic action (113).

The spirituality of the Institute flows from contemplating Christ, whose opened side signifies and manifests the love of the Trinity for the human race (14).

Our consecration is an answer of love to the kindness of God. It is a life completely oriented to the meek and humble Christ (14).

The fraternal community is a setting of life and charity (23). Love for our brothers and for the young people entrusted to us thereby takes root in the love of Jesus for us (119).

Our apostolic life issues from an impulse of love towards God and neighbor (150). Our life bears witness to the compassion of the Heart of Jesus for the world (64).

Christ's Spirit opens us to contemplation of the mysteries of God and to a true apostolic vision (133). Jesus went to pray by himself often spending the night in prayer (Lk 6:12). He taught his disciples how to pray, "This is how you should pray" (Mt 6:9). From our prayer flows good works: "My children, our love is not just words or mere talk, but something real and active; only by this can we be certain that we are children of the truth" (1 Jn 3:18-19).

85.3 Mission of the Institute

  • He is responding to a call of the Lord and not to an imaginary vocation.
  • He shows interest in the Christian education of youth.
  • He shows interest in the poor, the abandoned, the unprovided for.
  • He shows family spirit and an interest in the universal Institute and its missions.
  • His personal plans fit in well with the mission of the Institute.
  • He will help the congregation to carry out its mission of education in the faith.
  • He believes in the love of God and responds to it with the particular characteristics of the spirituality of the Heart of Christ.
  • He takes the Rule of Life into account in his decisions and initiatives.

85.4 Communal apostolic life

§ He gladly participates in communal life.

  • He is evidently concerned for others and for the common good.
  • He shares his talents in the apostolic project of his local community, respects and encourages those of his brothers.
  • He willingly shares his concerns, ideas, and joys with the community .
  • He has a sense of apostolic teamwork; he works well with others.
  • He gives evidence of faith when in a communal apostolic setting (apostolic phase of the novitiate).
  • He exerts a positive influence on the unity of the life of the community.

132. The brothers strive continually to live together the fraternal communal way of life described in our Rule of Life (chap. 3) while keeping in mind that the local community should support each brother in his formation and that each brother should support the community's formation program. To achieve this ideal of communal life, the brothers take the following measures, which are given in ascending order, each subsequent measure supposing the preceding ones.

135. Community of co-responsibility. The community fosters an atmosphere in which each member feels like an appreciated and valued participant (25).

136. Means

  • Consultation of each brother by the superior in interview.
  • Communal Eucharist and get-together on birthdays and holidays.
  • Sharing of work, of objects, and other things. Apostolic teamwork (50).
  • Fraternal presence and mutual acceptance between young and old (36, 39).
  • Specific acts of service and brotherly support (103).
  • Prayer for one another.
  • An active and responsible obedience inspired by an attentive and respectful superior (105).

137. Community of relationships. The community, in dealing with tensions and conflicts due to different ages, mentalities, and personalities, forges bonds of solidarity (15, 25).

138. Means

  • Fraternal meetings to check up on the things-to-do that had been decided upon, on the way of acting, on availability (27).
  • Direct communication and honest relations (33).
  • Fraternal correction (25-c).
  • Intervention of authority to prevent abuses and correct errors (210).
  • Communal celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation (135).
  • Apostolic witness of the communal aspect of our vocation (30).
  • Open discussion on the communal mission, starting from the orientations of the Church, the Rule of Life, and the Gospel (29).
  • Hospitality towards others and prayer with others (149).

139. Community of communion. The community cultivates the spirit of trust, honesty, and brotherhood.

140. Means

  • Examen before God and before the brothers (27).
  • Sharing of the Word of God and deepening of our faith, mission, and brotherhood together in the line of P AC (25-27, 133, 136).

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André Coindre: Writings and Documents

Vol. I: Letters 1821 - 1826

[Monistrol, December 18, 1823.]

My very dear Brother,

I am sending you a fine young man as brother tailor. He wishes that some of his time be given over to lessons in reading and writing. Please see to this for him. Here the brothers have four novices who are to be teachers. The brother carpenter is not suited to the work, so he has been assigned to the kitchen, but as soon as we have someone to replace him, we could send him to you, if you want him. He has no dowry. Brothers Louis and Pierre are holding their own for the moment.

The young man recommended by Father Dufêtre left yesterday. He thought he could get his training here, and then go to join his sponsor and to do the same sort of job which Brother Bernard does here. I told him that I had not been informed of this and that no brother would be sent on his own anywhere: there must always be at least two or three so as to form a community.69 So then he asked to go to Lyon to consult his family and sponsors. He said he wished to resume the trade he had already practiced for six months. He is not at peace with himself. I doubt that he has the makings of a brother, rather he will learn a trade and eventually make enough money to support himself.

Be sure that he pays for his room and board in advance, as well as for the five weeks he spent here. However, if he asked to join us and his god-mother were to refuse to pay for him, Father Dufêtre offered to pay his expenses. I will immediately inform him of the change of situation of his protégé.

A heartfelt embrace to you all in the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.70 I suggest that you stop your sulking and lamenting as to whether you are working for me or for the community. Serenity, peace and trust. Providence will in time give you the grace to see that it is not in vain that I am your father,

Monistrol, December 18, 1823.

Best wishes to Brothers Xavier, Delon, Mathieu, Maurice, Gonzague, etc. Don’t forget to give word of me to my mother and my sister who will not be unhappy to learn that I am in good health and that they are in my thoughts. Praised be Jesus Christ.

The Honorable Brother Borgia,
director of the brothers of Pieux-Secours,
3 Montée de la Butte, Lyon.


69 The principle of an apostolic community is clearly established by the founder from the very beginnings of the congregation.

70 The remainder of this sentence and the following one have been crossed out, seemingly after the receipt of the letter. This appears to be yet another example of the deletions which Brother Borgia would have made to certain documents which portrayed him in a bad light.

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The Memoirs of Brother Xavier 1801 – 1861

It was on the 30th of September, 1821, that good Father Coindre established us as a congregation under the rule of Saint Augustine and under the constitutions of Saint Ig- natius.10

Having established us as a community, Father Coindre earnestly desired to give a great impetus to his charitable work. He sent out notices to all the churches in Lyon that there would be, on such and such a day, a talk given by himself in the church of Saint-François to promote his new work. He urged all the benefactors of the foundation to attend. They came in droves. The business community and the nobility seemed to make it their duty to respond to the call. He spoke movingly on brotherly love, on the pressing need to save the street children of Lyon who were a constant prey to all sorts of depravity. He put it to them that they might each sign a covenant of several years’ duration so as to assure the future of the work. What is more, he urged them to establish a committee which would be responsible for collecting the contributions and be the overseers, and to advise the brothers who were to conduct the establishment.11 He was listened to with the utmost attention. A collection was taken up after the talk and a large number of people signed covenants in the amount of twenty-five francs per year for a five-year period. A committee was formed, with a chairman, treasurer, secretary, two auditors, not to mention several hangers-on. The group committed itself to the support of thirty poor boys in the institution at a cost of three hundred francs per year and per pupil. The commitment was for five years only. The name Pieux-Secours was given to the institution. Paying pupils were also accepted. At that time the number of silk manufacturing machines was increased and a shoemaking workshop was added. As there was then no brother qualified in this trade, a supervisor by the name of Jassoné [?] had to be hired. The equipping of the school and the setting up of the workshops had cost eight thousand francs which was met in large measure by the money that Father Coindre paid into the coffers of the institution.

1822. – The pastor of Valbenoîte had had second thoughts at the handing over of his house to us for our work. This was because he could not control things as he had thought he would be able to do. He wanted the institution in his parish to become independent. However, at the same time, he turned to Lyon for help. Father Coindre replied saying that it would not be possible to lend any support to a work which sought to go its own way and thus, be of no help at all to us. If he was unhappy at having given over his house to us, then he was welcome to take it back, as no contract had yet been signed. He did just that and the brothers who were there, became discouraged and left, each in his own direction.


10 The Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of St. Ignatius which are referred to here must be understood in the sense that they served as a general inspiration or background relative to the basic principles of the religious state and of common life. Itwould be impossible to find any direct influence of these works in the articles of the rule which were left us by our founder .

11 The thirty-two page brochure, entitled Pieux-Secours, Charitable Foundation for Young Boys, printed by Périsse Press in 1823, of which a copy is still preserved in the archives of the city of Lyon, were provided after the Prospectus and the report presented at the annual general meeting of the covenant holders held on 30 October 1823, the membership of the administrative council and the list of all the covenant holders for the charitable work from its foundation up till then.

The Abbey of Valbenoîte

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