April 25, 2019
Previous Table of Contents Next

DR#: 19 An Ideal Type Analysis of the Teacher in the Charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart


Since the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, there has been a steady decline in the population of men’s and women’s religious orders throughout the world, especially in those institutes dedicated to the ministry of education. A consequent phenomenon is a significant increase in the number of lay men and women in schools once staffed almost exclusively by religious priests, sisters, and brothers.

Such a decline in membership since Vatican Council II is evident in the Institute of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. Because the ever-increasing numbers of lay colleagues are not as conversant with the Brothers’ educational legacy as are the Brothers themselves, the reduced presence of these religious men in their institutions jeopardizes a heritage which as served the Church for nearly two centuries. Hence, there is need for a clear articulation of what it means to be a teacher in the educational tradition, or charism, of the Brothers and for a typology of such a teacher to be established.

The study done by Brother Francis David as his doctoral dissertation determined the distinguishing characteristics of the ideal Teacher through an analysis of several specified documents from the Institute’s literature. Using ideal type methodology, the researcher determined the distinctive characteristics and synthesized them into a typology of the ideal Teacher. The resulting description of the ideal Teacher was drawn under three main headings: Instruction, Formation, and Witness.

A sample of the typology indicates that, as an Instructor, the ideal Teacher is professionally competent, vigilant over students, and methodical in presentation of material; as a Former of students, the ideal Teacher places a priority on the values of honesty and justice, creates in students a sense of responsibility for others, and sensitizes students to the rights of all human beings; and as a Witness, the ideal Teacher models a sense of integrity, and is prayerful, impartial, and concerned for all.

Results of Brother Francis’ study indicate that overt efforts, such as use of the typology of the ideal Teacher to demonstrate what it means to “teach as the Brothers did,” can be used to preserve the educational tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.

Through this reading, participants will

  • Identify the characteristics of an ideal Teacher in the tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and
  • Understand what it means to “teach as the Brothers did.”
  • “An Ideal Type Analysis of the Teacher in the Educational Charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart,” Brother Francis David, 1997, selections from chapters 1, 2, and 5.
Options for Additional Readings
  • Kurimay, M. D. (1988) The Teacher in the Jesuit Educational Tradition: An Ideal Type Analysis. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of San Francisco, San Francisco.
  • “Faculty Perceptions Regarding Practice of Brothers of the Sacred Heart News Orleans Province Charism in Community-owned Secondary Schools, Gregory A. Brandao, 1993, especially chapters 1, 2, and 5.
  • “Rules of Conduct for Directors in our Schools,” Brother Polycarp (November 1854)
Suggestions for Journal Reflection
  1. Considering Brother Francis’ proposed typology of the ideal teacher in the Brothers’ charism, develop your own typology of the ideal school leader in the charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.
  2. After reflecting on the typology you developed for Question #1,
  • what would you identify as the two or three best talents you bring to school leadership? Explain why you have identified these talents and explain how they support the typology you developed.
  • Conversely, what areas need the greatest improvement? Again, explain your choices.

Lord God, as the Good Shepherd, you are the ideal teacher and leader. Help me to keep you always foremost in my mind and in my heart as my model and guide. But, more than that, help me to be a constant learner as I serve and model leadership for others in the school community. Allow me to be open to the movements of your Spirit that I may be ever more an ideal teacher and leader in the spirit of André Coindre.


“An Ideal Type Analysis of the Teacher in the Educational Charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart,” Brother Francis David, 1997, selections from chapters 1, 2, and 5.


The Research Problem


The second half of the 20th century, from the post-World War II period to the present, saw a virtual explosion of change in nearly all areas of American society. To name but a few of these changes, political and social upheaval became commonplace, scientific knowledge advanced at unprecedented speed, the visual and performing arts took new and spectacular forms, education moved away from emphasizing the "basics" and toward preparing students for a new technologically-oriented millennium.

Religion too, particularly Roman Catholicism, experienced significant change in this period. Although the Second Vatican Council closed its final session in December, 1965, the ripple effects of that three-year, worldwide meeting of bishops continued to be felt 30 years later in the American Catholic Church.

Vatican II called for extensive changes in the Church's liturgy, broadening of traditionally narrow interpretation of dogma, and a relaxation of previously strict, multifaceted and detailed regimen of discipline. These changes and the confusion of their implementation had a disturbing effect on many of the clergy and religious within the Church. But for the religious, the most traumatic result of the Council was the change in emphasis from monastic to the apostolic type of mission. Among Brothers of the Sacred Heart, many individuals had difficulty in adjusting to this philosophy, and some found it impossible to do so. Werneth (1996) observed:

. . .in becoming a religious, a person no longer withdrew from the world. Rather, a new emphasis was given to the apostolate in the sense of going out into the world. It marked a change from a monastic style of religious life to one that was more apostolic.

It was that change that resulted in the two prominent phenomena that are pertinent to this study: a decline in the numbers of those in the priesthood and religious life, and an increase of lay men and women filling positions in many areas of ecclesial life that were once assumed only by clerics or religious.

These dynamics are especially evident in American Catholic education. The post-World War II population explosion in this country caused a dramatic increase in enroll-ment in Catholic schools, so much so that there was not a sufficient supply of religious educators to satisfy the demand. In the period between 1950 and 1960 the number of lay teachers in Catholic secondary schools grew from slightly less than 5,000 to nearly 11,000. This increase more than doubled the overall percentage of lay high school teachers from 12% of the total in 1950 to approximately 25% in 1960. In the five-year period from 1960 to 1965, Catholic schools were forced to hire an additional 9,000 lay teachers for the secondary schools since the percentage of religious faculty had declined to only two-thirds of the teaching staffs (Convey, 1992).

The 30 years from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s provided even more dramatic adjustments in the lay / religious balance in America's Catholic high schools. Between 1965 and 1980, the number of teachers who were members of religious orders declined by over 33,000, while more than 42,000 lay teachers were added, with the result that "the percentage of lay teachers more than doubled between 1965 and 1980 for ... Catholic secondary schools. In 1980, lay teachers comprised almost three-fourths of the full-time teachers in ... high schools (70.5 %)" (Convey, 1992, pp. 113-114). Despite a slight increase between 1980 and 1985, the decade of the 1980s saw the num-ber of full-time teachers in Catholic schools drop by almost 19,000, with religious teachers accounting for the majority of the decrease: 12,000 fewer in elementary schools and 7,000 fewer in secondary schools. According to Convey (1992), by 1990 in Catholic high schools alone, lay teachers formed over 82% of the faculties.

The changing dynamics, especially those of the last 30 years, that the Catholic Church has faced on a national scale are the same as those that individual religious orders themselves have had to address. This is particularly true of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in the New Orleans Province, who are the focus of this study.

Statement of the Problem

The Brothers of the Sacred Heart are a worldwide Roman Catholic religious order of men whose primary ministry in the Church is the evangelization of young people, especially through education. From a modest beginning in the post-Revo-lution era in France, today the order, often referred to as "the Institute," operates insti-tutions in 35 countries throughout the world.

The order's membership reached its greatest number in the mid 1960s when the official rolls had grown to slightly less than 3,000 men. But in the aftermath of Vatican Council II, as Nygren and Ukeritis (1992) pointed out, the number of brothers began to decline, especially in the United States and specifically in the order's New Orleans province.

A total province membership in 1965 of 192 professed brothers with a median age of 39 by 1995 had shrunk to only 89 with a median age of 65. In the New Orleans pro-vince's five secondary schools, most administrative and teaching positions once staffed by brothers are now filled by lay men and women. As Brandao (1993) indicated, "the number of brothers staffing the [three] community-owned schools [of the province] declined from 77.5% of total faculty in 1960 to 15.4% in 1990" (p. 2).

While a large majority of the lay teachers are Catholic, few if any have had instruction in the order's history and tradition similar to what each brother receives and experiences during his period of religious training. In the years shortly after his entrance into the order, every brother is required to undergo a period of formation during which he is schooled in his religious community's heritage. The lay men and women being hired to teach in the brothers' schools today do not have the benefit of this long period of training, and thus are not well versed in the culture that once pervaded the schools when they were staffed almost exclusively by brothers.

This steady decrease in the number of people steeped in the educational culture of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart jeopardizes the continuation of the tradition long associated with this order since its founding. A critical issue facing the brothers at this point in their history is how to maintain and perpetuate their unique educational heritage, what is properly called their" charism," as their membership grows increasingly smaller and inexorably older.

Purpose of the Study

To address the issues of preserving the Brothers' charism and of finding the means to accomplish this goal were the general thrusts of this research. More specifically, the purpose of this study was to profile the ideal teacher in the educational tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. The researcher drew overarching themes from three sources, namely, (a) the brothers' Rules and Constitutions, (b) the writings of selected leaders of the order, and (c) the document Educational Mission and Ministry (1985), a publication of the Brothers' New Orleans Province articulating how the Institute's edu-cational philosophy is practiced in that province. From those sources, the characteristics of a teacher consistent with and illustrative of the brothers' educational charism were delineated, and from those themes a profile of the ideal teacher in the tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart was constructed.

The following background is presented in order to provide context for the forthcoming review of the Institute's various documents.

Background for the Study

The Brothers of the Sacred Heart were founded in 1821 in Lyons, France, by a diocesan priest named Andre Coindre. Father Coindre's religious order began with only 10 men but steadily increased in numbers through the mid-1820s. After Coindre's untimely death in 1826, the leadership of the fledgling order was given over to his blood brother Vincent, who also was a diocesan priest. However, during Vincent's tenure, the order began to decline in numbers and nearly failed because of his poor administrative skills and dubious investment of funds. But during the early 1840s there was a resur-gence in the number of recruits under the leadership of Brother Polycarp Gondre, the first brother to serve as the Institute's Superior General and the individual considered its "second founder" as a result of the revitalization which occurred during his tenure. The order became both vigorous and widespread, and in 1847 eventually extended to the United States.

Over the next 100 years the brothers steadily grew into a worldwide order with ministries not only in Europe, the United States, and Canada, but also in the Caribbean, Africa, South America, and the Pacific. The numbers were such that by 1965, in North America alone, there were three provinces in the United States and seven in Canada.

The total number of brothers in the Institute throughout the world peaked in 1965 at 2,929, and what was seen as very positive personnel numbers worldwide was reflected in a large number of brothers in the New Orleans province. By the start of the 1964-65 school year, the New Orleans province had a personnel roster listing almost 200 brothers assigned to schools in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Uganda (East Africa). In the late 1960s, however, there began a period of steep decline in membership that reaches to the present (see Figure 1).

The period that showed the most acute rate of decline was the years between 1965 and 1980. In that 15-year span the New Orleans Province lost nearly 75 brothers through either death or departure, a figure that represented approximately 40% of the 1965 membership.

As shown in Figure 2, in 1965 the 192 brothers in the province had a mean age of 40.2, but by 1995 the province membership had shrunk to only 89 brothers with a mean age of 62.2.

As shown in Figure 3, of the 89 brothers in the province in 1995, 14 were 80+ years of age; only three were under the age of 30. At that point, nearly half of the membership of the province was either retired or semi-retired due to age or infirmity, thus assuring that the overwhelming majority of the personnel needs of the province's schools would have to be met by lay men and lay women. As examples of that personnel shortfall, by 1993 each of the five schools in the New Orleans Province had a lay principal, a position formerly filled exclusively by a Brother. Additionally, lay men and lay women formed an exceedingly large part of each of those five schools' faculties, a situation consistent with national trends foreseen by Pejza (1985) in which the laity may form as much as 98% of Catholic school faculties by the year 2000.

Need for the Study

The foregoing numerical assessment has shown the Brothers' declining personnel numbers and their increasing age. In the schools they once staffed almost exclusively, their consequent decreasing presence points directly toward the need for a study to assist in preserving the educational charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart by identifying characteristics of the ideal teacher in that charism and by sharing that vision of education with the lay men and women who now staff the brothers' schools.

Theoretical Rationale

Central to this study, and forming its theoretical rationale, is the work of contemporary theorists concerning the issue of culture as a dynamic entity in modern social organization, principally those engaged in business and education. Writing from the viewpoint of the industrial model, Ouchi (1981) identified culture as an organization's values which form the basis for all of its activities, opinions, and actions. Managers devote much of their time and energy to instilling this culture in their employees by their own example so that the culture can be transmitted to succeeding generations. Hofstede (1980) contended that each school has a unique culture determined by the collective interaction of members of that school. Theorists such as Peters and Waterman (1982) and Hickman and Silva (1984) believed that excellent schools have strong established cultures which provide a clear sense of purpose defining the general thrust and nature of life in those schools. For these theorists, culture is the unique way that people unite behind a common purpose, perform in an excellent manner, and then pass those skills on to others for the preservation of excellence in the school.

McDermott (1983) proposed the Gemeinschaft model of Ferdinand Tönnie to describe the culture of the Catholic school because "Tönnie's characteristics of a Gemeinschaft contain the essential elements which foster the integration of spiritual, human, and educative values promoted in Church documents" (Cummings, 1996, p. 15). In adapting Tönnie's model to Catholic schools, McDermott recognized that a Gemeinschaft entailed four essential components: strong commitment of the people to their school, a sense of unity, a consensus on goals, and an awareness of the schools' specialness.

Culture has been viewed also as "the way we do things around here" (Deal & Kennedy, 1983, p. 14), or in other words, the unique "feel" of a school (Deal & Peterson, 1990, p. 8). The culture of a Catholic school, especially one conducted by a religious order, is developed from a number of factors, among them "its goals and objectives, the vision and leadership of its administrators, the commitment and sense of purpose of its faculty, the shared values of the entire school community ... and 'the ideals of the founder'" (Convey 1992, p.180). Shafran (1994) believed that this mixture of components, known as culture” in the secular literature, suggested the unique "feel" of a Catholic school, that is, its "charism" in the context of religious literature.

Research Questions

With the foregoing descriptive statistics (Figures 1, 2, and 3), historical background, and theoretical context established, certain questions were raised which provided focus to this study:

  1. What are the characteristics of the ideal teacher in the educational charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart as expressed in the various versions of their Rules and Constitutions?
  2. What are the characteristics of the ideal teacher in the educational charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart as expressed in the selected writings of several of the order's Superiors General?
  3. What are the characteristics of the ideal teacher in the educational charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart as expressed in the document Educational Mission and Ministry?

Definition of Terms

Brother: a consecrated layman who professes the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience. The brother is distinguished from the secular layman by his consecration, his participation in a particular religious order, and by his participation in the ministry of the Church.

Chapter (general and provincial): "The general or regional meeting of delegates of a religious institute to discuss and decide on matters affecting the spiritual life and apos-tolate of the community" (Hardon, 1980, p. 93). "There are various kinds of chapters. A general chapter represents the entire, perhaps worldwide, religious institute. A provincial chapter consists of representatives of a province, while a local chapter is a meeting of an individual monastery or house. The word [chapter] originated with the monastic practice of assembling daily to listen to a reading of a chapter from a monastic rule. Also a superior transacted business at these sessions; hence, the legal character of chapters" (McBrien, 1995, p. 299).

Charism: a supernatural gift freely given by the Holy Spirit for the building up of the Church, the body of Christ. A charism is a gift which has its source in the charis, the grace or favor, of God and which is intended to be used for the good of all.

Circular: a periodic written communication of a religious order's provincial or congregational leader published for the purpose of spiritual animation / exhortation, professional improvement, or information.

Code of Canon Law: "a codification of canons, or laws, of the Latin rite Roman Catholic Church.... Consisting of 1,752 canons, the code is organized in seven books: general norms, the People of God, the teaching office of the Church, the office of sanctifying in the Church, the temporal goods of the Church, sanctions in the Church, and processes" (McBrien, 1995, p. 326).

Congregation, religious: see "Institute, religious" or "Order, religious."

Constitutions: a set of regulations governing the organizatonal and operational aspects of religious orders.

Councilor: "a word applied to groups of clergy, religious, and laity that offer advice on financial and pastoral matters" (McBrien, 1995, p. 371).

Culture: "the ways of living built up by a human group and transmitted to succeeding generations" (Steinmetz & Braham, 1993, p. 159); religious orders would use the term" charism" in place of "culture" when speaking of the ethos of their school communities.

Evangelization: the zealous proclamation of the Gospel in order to bring others to Christ and his Church. Lumen Gentium (Flannery, 1975) decreed evangelization to be the responsibility of every disciple of Christ, according to his or her ability.

Former: one who serves as a facilitator of a student's formation, especially a student's moral formation.

General Council: a term used to designate the group of advisors to the Superior General of a religious institute, as required by the Code of Canon Law.

Institute, religious: a group of men or women approved by competent Church authority who live a communal lifestyle and profess the public vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. "The canonical term, 'Religious Institute,' was used in the documents of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) to describe any religious order, society, or congregation taking public vows" (Glazier & Hellwig, 1994, p. 434).

Laity or layperson: "all the faithful except those in holy orders [priests and bishops] and those who belong to a religious state approved by the Church" (Flannery, 1975, p. 388).

Normal school: "(formerly) a school offering a two-year course and certification to high school graduates preparing to be teachers, especially elementary school teachers" (Flexner, 1987, p. 1321).

Province: a major geographical division of some religious orders under the governance of a provincial superior.

Order, religious: a group of persons, either men or women, united as a group by a common bond and living under common religious regulations; "religious order" is synon-ymous with "religious institute."

Rule: a principle or regular mode of action, prescribed by one in authority, for the well-being of those who are members of a society. It is in this sense that the organized method of living the evangelical counsels are called rules, as the Rule of St. Augustine or the Rule of St. Benedict. For the purpose of this study, "Rule," "Rules," and "Rule of Life" are interchangeable terms.

Second Vatican Council: a council is an "official gathering of Church leaders and representatives that assists in the process of decision making within the Church" (McBrien, 1995, p. 370). The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) was the 21st ecumenical or general council of the Church.

Superior General: "the highest official in an institute of consecrated life or society of apostolic life. The superior general ... has authority over all the provinces, houses, and individuals in the institute" (McBrien, 1995, p. 1231).

Witness: to "... give evidence based on personal and immediate knowledge of a fact, event, or experience. The Christian concept of witness adds to the popular notion the idea of a religious experience to which a believer testifies by his life, words, and actions, and thus gives inspiration and example to others by his testimony" (Hardon,1980, p. 571).

Limitations of the Study

Brother Bernard Couvillion was the Superior General of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart at the time of the study. The use of his three-aspect view of the Brothers' charism delimited this study. His instruction-formation-witness model served as but one approach to understanding the Brothers' unique educational tradition in the Church. Second, the use of the document Educational Mission and Ministry also delimited this study since, as an articulation of the educational philosophy of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, it was unique to the New Orleans Province and not universally accepted throughout the Institute.


This study was limited by a language barrier. The researcher did not speak or read French, the language in which the Rules, letters, and other communications of Father Coindre, Brother Polycarp, and many of their successors were composed. While some of this body of literature had been in English, part of it remained in its original French form.

For the purpose of this research study, two documents were translated from French to English. "Instruction et Éducation Chrétiennes de la Jeunesse" (Clavel, 1922) was translated by Mrs. Norma Michaud, French instructor at Catholic High School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and by Dr. Perry Brandao, a consultant to Catholic High School. "La tradition des Frères du Sacré-Coeur quant à la conduite des écoles" (Ribaut, 1993) was translated by Sister Lelia Pond, SSND, of St. Mary of the Pines Retreat Center, Chatawa, Mississippi.

A second limitation of this study was its lack of generalizability. Borg and Gall (1989) proposed that the aim of qualitative research was "to develop a body of knowledge that is unique to the individual being studied [which can then] be used to develop working hypotheses about the individual" (p. 384). Given the nature of qualitative research, then, the characteristics of the ideal teacher which arose from this study were pertinent only to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.

Third, this study was limited by the bias of the researcher, himself a Brother of the Sacred Heart. Again, because of the nature of qualitative research, this study depended on the researcher's personal interpretations of the material reviewed. Consequently, some of those interpretations were subject to certain bias in spite of the researcher's efforts toward objectivity.

Fourth, this study was limited by historian bias, that is, the biases of those Brothers of the Sacred Heart who were the composers of the various Rules, the Institute's circulars, and the document Educational Mission and Ministry. The composition of these sources "involve[d] an interpretative act by ... [the] recorders because their biases, values, and interests [caused] them to attend to some details and omit others" (Borg & Gall, 1989, p. 806).

Significance of the Study

A search of the literature revealed only a small body of research concerning the qualities of an ideal teacher in either the public or private sectors. However, there was no literature that offered a clear explication of the ideal teacher in the educational tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. Because no such profile of the ideal teacher in this tradition existed, there was the potential for divergent views of this charism being espoused in the order's schools. Having a profile of the ideal teacher in this tradition could help to minimize such divergence.

Shimabukuro (1993) maintained that "seeking an ideal image of the teacher has significance and utility; it offers a behavioral reference point.... Although unattainable, an ideal image provides clarity to role expectations, along with comforting guidance for the teacher" (pp. 2-3). Brandao (1993) found that "Church documents support the need for faculty members to actively promote the distinctive characteristics of the group sponsoring the school. School culture research supports the connection between the advancement of a strong set of values, norms, beliefs, attitudes, and the effectiveness of the school" (pp. 7-8).

Such a profile would not only be an important tool whereby teachers new to a brothers' school could acquire a clear understanding of the behavioral expectations that school administrators have for them, but also it could be employed in professional in-service activities for teachers. Conversely, the profile of the ideal teacher could give to school administrators a matrix with which to provide all teachers in the school, new and veteran ones alike, an insightful evaluation of their performance.

Other religious orders in the Church, particularly those with educational traditions similar to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, may find this profile helpful as they grapple with the need to define their own teaching charism. The present study, then, might provide a model for them to follow in developing a profile of the ideal teacher in their respective educational charisms.

Finally, this study could be of significance to the Church at large as a response to her call for religious life renewal, especially her challenge for orders to return to their founding charisms. In the Second Vatican Council's decree Perfectae Caritatis (Flannery, 1975), the Church admonished all religious orders of men and women to return to the charism of their founders and to renew their religious communities through the vision of those founders:

It is for the good of the Church that institutes have their own proper characters and functions. Therefore the spirit and aims of each founder should be faithfully accepted and retained, as indeed should each institute's sound traditions, for all of these constitute the patrimony of an institute. (p.612)

So, in response to Perfectae Caritatis, a definition of the ideal teacher in the Brothers of the Sacred Heart educational tradition will provide an important means for the preservation of a teaching charism that has existed in the Church for 175 years.

In general, then, a profile of the ideal teacher in the charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart has significance in several areas. As shown in this section, it can be of assistance to the teachers and administrators both in those schools currently operated under the auspices of the Brothers, as well as in schools similar to those conducted by the Brothers, where the profile can be an aid in guiding and evaluating teacher performance. Finally, such a profile can be significant for the Church at large because it can serve to preserve one of the many charisms the Holy Spirit has bestowed to augment the Body of Christ.


As the 21st century approaches, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart face a future with significantly declining numbers in their membership. Schools once staffed almost exclusively by Brothers who imbued those Institutions with their charism now have faculties composed of a predominant number of lay men and lay women. Given these factors, the continuation of the charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart is at risk. The leaders of schools which are conducted under the auspices of the Brothers recognize the urgent need to preserve this educational charism and to share its content and spirit with those men and women now teaching in classrooms where Brothers once taught. One means to this end is to construct a profile of the ideal teacher in the charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. The first step in delineating this profile was a review of the literature pertinent to this study. That review is discussed in the following chapter.



Review of Literature


The purpose of this study was to profile the ideal teacher in the educational tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. By drawing dominant themes from the body of literature specific to this religious order, characteristics of the teacher in this educational charism could be delineated, and from those themes a typology of the ideal teacher in the tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart could be constructed.

A review of available literature set the context for the study before the typology itself was addressed. The literature review was divided into six sections:

  1. First, the review examined the theory of Brother Bernard Couvillion, Superior General of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart from 1994 to the present, concerning the particular aspects of the order’s charism that are related to the ministry of education. Brother Bernard arrived at his theory following intense study of the Brothers’ Rules and Constitutions as well as other relevant writings by members of the Institute. Brother Bernard’s insightful work provided an excellent point of departure for the present study in that it established a unique vantage point, a lens, so to speak, through which to observe and examine the charism that so powerfully affects education as ministered by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.
  2. Next, the review provided an overview of the concept of charism and how it was perceived in particular individuals in the Church, in the Church’s religious congregations, and finally, in the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.
  3. Because “culture” and “charism” are secular and theological terms respectively used to denote the same reality, that is, a metaphysical force that influences “the way things are done” (Deal & Kennedy, 1983), the review included an overview of literature on school culture in general and Catholic school culture in particular.
  4. The review then addressed the literature concerning the various versions of the rules and constitutions of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart throughout their history, that is, versions of 1843, 1867, 1927, and 1984.
  5. The review surveyed the writings of five of the 15 Superiors General of the order, specifically, the work of Brother Albéric Clavel, Brother Albertinus Juge, Brother Josaphat Vanier, Brother Maurice Ratté, and Brother Bernard Couvillion.
  6. Finally, the review focused on the document Educational Mission and Ministry, a written expression of the Brothers’ teaching charism as articulated by members of the New Orleans Province.

Following is discussion of relevant findings within each of the six categories into which the literature for this study was divided.

Brother Bernard Couvillion’s Schema

After a study of the Brothers’ Rules (1843, 1867, and 1984), Constitutions (1927), and the writings of many of the order’s leaders, Brother Bernard Couvillion (1992) concluded that education in the Brothers’ tradition was composed of three elements: instruction, formation, and witness. He asserted that instruction in religious and secular subjects was an integral part of the order’s mission. Teachers could not merely present certain material “as neutral ... [but] each teacher must give faith a voice in the classroom dialogue and relate the Church’s communal tradition to the subject being taught” (p. 39). Then, he pointed out that

. . . through a wide range of offerings in the curriculum, through sacramental life, through extracurriculars, through discipline and order, through student retreats, through experiences of worship and of social interaction we can evangelize by forming the behaviors and attitudes of young people according to the values of the Gospel. (p. 40)

Finally, Brother Bernard found that the most effective evangelizing force in the school was the example found in teachers’ lives. He expressed his belief in this way:

What educates most is what the students perceive to be our values. The quality of our relationships, particularly with them, the values we display in our behaviors, the faith we express in our classroom prayer and instruction, and the integrity of our actions speak more forcefully than our instruction or our attempts to form behaviors. (p. 41)

In July, 1996, Brother Bernard’s schema was submitted by the researcher to a panel of 15 distinguished experts (see Appendix A) who were asked to weigh it in light of their under-standing and appreciation of the educational tradition of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and to judge the schema’s validity. The panel members were unanimous in their endorsement of Brother Bernard’s work and viewed it as an excellent reflection of the Brothers’ tradition.

Consequently the research project was structured in the context of Brother Bernard’s proposition that instruction, formation, and witness are the three-element basis of education in the Brothers’ tradition. Within that structure, to reveal the characteristics of the ideal teacher in the charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, the research questions were applied to three bodies of the Institute’s literature. The literature selected included (a) the three versions of the order’s Rules (1843,1867, and 1984), and their Constitutions of 1927, (b) selected circulars produced by several of the order’s Superiors General, and (c) the document Educational Mission and Ministry, produced by Brothers of the New Orleans Province.


In addition to its theoretical rationale predicated on the relationship of culture to lived experience, this study relied on an understanding of the theological proposition of "charism." Initially the Greek word charisma had only a secular meaning as a free gift or unconditional favor. It was St. Paul who introduced the term into religious language where it came to mean a free gift of grace, as in Romans 5:15-16 and Ephesians 2:4-10 (Jones, 1968). More precisely, charism was a supernatural gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit for building up the Body of Christ. A charism was a gift which had its source in the charis – grace or favor – of God and which was destined for the common good (Komonchak, 1987; Brennan, 1993). Indirectly a charism may have benefitted the one who possessed it, but its immediate purpose was for the spiritual welfare of the Christian community (Hardon, 1980).

Charism of an Individual

St. Paul’s letters demonstrated that charisms were gifts of the Spirit given only to indi-viduals (see 1 Corinthians 12: 5-11; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-12), not to corporate or aggregate groups (Weakland, 1994). Intended ultimately for the formation of the whole Church, charisms were inherently spiritual in that they involved faith and spiritual doctrine (Sanctorum, 1991). Some charisms concerned the functions of ministry, such as the charisms of apostles, prophets, doctors, evangelists, and pastors. Others applied to activities that were useful for the community, such as service, teaching, exhortation, works of mercy, words of wisdom or know-ledge, gifts of healing or of working miracles, the gift of tongues, and the discernment of spirits.

Charism of a Congregation

Charisms given to one person could become embodied in a large group, such as a religious institute. The unique gift of the founder of a congregation was given to every subse-quent member from one generation to the next (McBrien, 1995). In this sense, the charism of the founder was clarified and further determined through history by other members of the institute who followed in his or her footsteps (Weakland, 1994).

Given first to a single person, the founding charism could develop in a way that led to other charisms, for example, the growth and flowering of the religious life (Brennan, 1993). The founding charism might also give rise to a particular activity that corresponded to a special need in the Church, such as teaching or healing. The charism made fruitful “the efforts of all those who participate in that task, coordinate the task, and fortify it through the action of all, who no longer act as individuals” (Sanctorum, 1991, p. 2). The institutional charism was seen then as “an experience of the Holy Spirit transmitted from the founder of the congregation to his or her followers to be lived by them, safeguarded, deepened, and developed constantly in harmony with the Body of Christ in perpetual growth” (Sanctorum, 1991, p. 2).

Charism of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart

The Brothers of the Sacred Heart were founded in response to the social devastation caused by the French Revolution. The charism of the Brothers as it has developed in the 175 years of their existence centered around three main themes, namely, these men were

... a community of secular brothers (a) [characterized by] simple and strong relationships; (b) moved forward by a spirituality of Jesus’ Heart, the symbol of the Father’s love; and (c) devoted to the task of evangelization, first and foremost towards the poorest (the abandoned, orphans, the destitute, delinquents) in a work of education and human promotion. (Sanctorum, 1991, pp. 6-7)

From this charism of the religious institute known as the Brothers of the Sacred Heart has developed the charism of their educational ministry. Sanctorum (1991) defined that charism as


. . .a mission of evangelization, instruction, and socialization carried out by mature, well balanced, and unselfish people by means of prayer, example, and dedication in a climate of respect, esteem, affection, and goodness, and according to a method favoring closeness, love of work, and correction. (p. 3)


The theological proposition of charism formed the foundation of this study. Charism as a freely bestowed gift of God could be made only to an individual who then shared the gift with the wider Church. The literature has substantiated that such has been the case with countless religious order founders throughout the history of the Church, as could be seen from the example of Father André Coindre who freely shared his founding charism with the wider Church through institutes such as the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.


School Culture

Boyer (1983) and Lightfoot (1983) recognized that schools of all types and at all levels of education share characteristics that are common to all. Traits shared by schools are goals, curriculum, teachers, teaching and learning, technology, structure, school leadership, connections beyond the campus, and community support” (Boyer, 1983, p. 7). Englund (1995) believed that all of those characteristics with their inherent values, norms, language, and symbols contribute to making up the concept which sociologists refer to as culture.

Various scholars have employed different terms in referring to a school’s cultural environment. Sergiovanni (1984) maintained that a school’s culture “include[d] values, symbols, beliefs, and shared meanings of parents, students, teachers, and others conceived as a group or community” (p. 9). Buetow (1988) used the term “atmosphere” to define the qualities that characterize a school.

Goodlad (1984) selected the word “ambiance” to signify a school’s environment, while Sizer (1985) simply used “school culture” as a descriptive tag that denoted a school’s atmos-phere. For Deal and Peterson (1990) culture was the “character of the school as it reflects deep patterns of values, beliefs, and traditions that have been formed over the course of its history” (p. 7). Sergiovamri (1995) believed that culture was a figurative compass which set a course for those in the school and provided a set of norms that defined what people did and how they did it. Once a school established a certain culture, it then became a powerful means of directing the behavior of students and teachers.

Catholic School Culture

In their study of Catholic high schools, Bryk, Lee, and H,olland (1993) found that successful schools had systems of beliefs which infused the school and which were acted out on a regular basis. When the numerous factors which they measured coalesced, the researchers found significant organizational coherence.

McDermott (1983) described the culture of the Catholic school as containing elements such as a strong commitment of the people to their school, a sense of unity, a consensus on goals, and an awareness of their specialness, all of which fosters the integration of spiritual, human, and educative values as called for in Church documents. In his research, Greeley (1989) concluded that Catholic schools’ effectiveness was the result of either classroom instruction or the ambiance and atmosphere of the schools themselves” (p. 262). Coleman (1989) advanced the belief that Catholic school success resulted from the community-building nature of Catholic schools, a position that Sergiovanni (1994) also held.


All schools at all levels of education share common characteristics, such as goals, curriculum, teachers, teaching and learning, technology, structure, school leadership, connections beyond the campus, and community support. The literature asserts that these traits make up a milieu more commonly referred to as a school’s culture, its ambiance, or its environment. The literature points out that the success of Catholic schools resulted from a sense of commitment, a sense of unity, a set of commonly held beliefs, and the schools’ ability to form community involving students, parents, teachers, alumni, benefactors, and other interested parties.

Rules of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart

Father André Coindre’s Rules (1821)

At their beginning in 1821, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart acquired some rudimentary Rules from their founder, Father André Coindre. He derived the Rules of 1821 from the Rules of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of the Jesuits. Ribaut (1993) described the initial Rules of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart as essentially spiritual ones which said little if anything about education or schools. Lafreniere (1971) claimed that Coindre’s Rules treated of religious and social virtues such as obedience, poverty, chastity, modesty, humility, mortification, withdrawal from the world, zeal, prudence, politeness, cleanliness, love of study and work, indifference to employment; they even contained some miscellaneous regulations on such subjects as food, furniture, and lodgings. Rather than generate rules specific to his fledgling congregation, “[Coindre] decided to bide his time in formulating his own rules until experience [indicated] what would be best” (Anderson, 1963, p. 17).

Roux (1972) pointed out that the original text of the first Rules was addressed to female religious, in all likelihood, the Religious of Jesus­ Mary, an order of women that Coindre also founded in this same period. Several of the directives in these original Rules were feminine gender-specific. Additionally, the copyist who transcribed the Rules for the Brothers left a certain number of references in the linquistically feminine form, for example, “local superieures,” “maitresse of novices,” and “inferieures,” which should have been expressed in the masculine. It was apparently Coindre’s habit to make regular amplifications in the Brothers’ Rules, and he frequently used the rules which he previously wrote for women religious as a starting point for those amplifications. Roure (1987) reported the issue of these initial Rules in this way:

... at an uncertain time, Father André Coindre [gave] to the Religious of Jesus-Mary some general and provisional norms, the same that [would subsequently] be adapted for use by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. These norms were at least gestational during 1818-1820, since a sisters’ document of 1823 speaks of “several years” of experience with Father Coindre’s first Rules. During 1821-1822, Father Coindre and Claudine Thévenet [foundress of the Religious of Jesus-Mary] work[ed] on a set of Rules for submission to ecclesiastical authority. (p. 95)

Coindre’s death less than five years from the founding of the Brothers left the Institute in virtual disarray, a condition compounded by the poor leadership of his brother, Father Vincent Francis Coindre, who succeeded him as Superior General. Father André Coindre’s sketchy Rules did not survive this period, and it was thus that only three versions of the Rules (1843, 1867, and 1984) were considered in this study. During the term of Vincent Coindre’s superior-ship (1826­ 1841), no additional Rules were forthcoming. It was left to the first Brother Superior General, Brother Polycarp Gondre, to give the Institute its first set of formal, printed Rules (Brothers of the Sacred Heart: A History of the Institute, 1961).

Rules of 1843

Ratté (1981) noted that it was Brother Polycarp Gondre, honored by the General Chapter of 1859 with the title “Second Founder of the Institute,” who provided the order with its first complete set of Rules. In a circular to the members of the congregation in January, 1843, Brother Polycarp announced his plans to the brothers. He completed the first draft of the Rules in the spring of 1843 and submitted them for approval to the bishops of the dioceses in which the order had establishments. During the summer of 1844, duplicate copies of the Rules were given to all Brothers so that they could study them and implement them on an experimental basis. Following that action, Brother Polycarp submitted his Rules to the General Chapter of 1846, which approved them.

A primary source for this 1843 revision was the Rules of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, commonly known as the Christian Brothers, founded by St. John Baptist de La Salle in the 17th century. Ratté (1972) believed that

... there was need to legislate on our apostolate, the education of youth. There was nothing about this in our Rules of 1821. And twenty years of experience was not much to draw on. Brother Polycarp must have known that our Founder, when he was considering the move to parochial schools, had asked Brother Borgia, the Director General, to visit the Christian Brothers and to see how they did things. Heeding the same advice, he derived the entire portion of his Rules concerning education from those of Saint John Baptist de La Salle. (p. 14)

The finished Rules of 1843 comprised 228 articles: “64(28%) are from [the] earlier Rules and other legislation, 61 (26%) from the Jesuits, and 103 (46 %) from the Brothers of the Christian Schools” (Brothers of the Sacred Heart, 1981, p. 14). Roux (1972) observed that the Rules of 1843 also were taken from several secondary sources: a small part came from the earlier Rules of Father Coindre, another part from the decisions of General Chapters, and probably another small part from decisions of the General Council (for several articles the origins of which are uncertain).

Roux (1972) believed that the 1846 General Chapter members, in an effort to provide the Institute a formalized body of legislation, imprudently approved Brother Polycarp’s proposed new Rules because they subsequently proved to be far too stringent for a teaching order. The minutes of the General Chapter of 1856 reflected this belief:

[we are] convinced by experience that our daily schedule is inappropriate in several respects, that, in particular, a study of catechism at eleven o’clock is hardly possible, that the examination of conscience cannot be made at noon with the attention it deserves, that meditation in the evening fatigues the Brothers without producing the good effects one might expect from it.... (as cited in Roux, 1972, p. 110)

Changes were made: the evening meditation was canceled and replaced by a summary of the table reading. Table reading was limited to only part of the meal, with general conversation following. Recreation time was expanded, rules for religious superiors and for Brothers employed in manual labor were added.

According to Roux (1972), two-thirds of the 1856 General Chapter’s 24 plenary sessions were devoted to preparing and approving a new set of Statutes which traced the outlines of the organization of the Institute in regard to the admission of candidates, the manner of life of the Brothers, and the various works of the congregation. These Statutes proved to be the forerunner of an eventual set of Constitutions which “neither the Founder nor Father Vincent Coindre gave to the Institute ... properly so called. Brother Polycarp drew up some chapters relating to the general administration but death prevented him from completing his work” (Brothers of the Sacred Heart, 1961, p. 47). When Brother Polycarp died on January 9, 1859, his work was still unfinished and was left to the General Chapter of 1867 to carry forward.

Rules of 1867

Brother Adrian Tailland was elected to succeed Brother Polycarp as Superior General. The book Our Rules in the History of the Institute (1981) reported that Brother Adrian presented to the General Chapter of 1867 what it called a “new draft” (p. 16) of the Rules, and “the Chapter members found these Rules so complete, so well ordered, and so clear that they approved them without change.”

Roux (1973) advanced the belief that the Rules of 1867 were not just a “new draft” as the minutes of the 1867 General Chapter had stated, but were instead a considerable amplification of the previous Rules, since they contained 400 articles, whereas those of 1843 contained only 228. Moreover, the source of the new Rules was significantly different, since for the most part they were adaptations of the Rules of the Marist Brothers. Many articles were not changed at all as they made the transition from the Marist rule book to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart rule book.

Roux (1973) analyzed the 1867 Rules and found that some of the 1843 Rules of Brother Polycarp were retained: about 15 without change, about 20 with little change, and about 40 with considerable modification. In further analysis, he reported that “the text of the Rules of 1867 resembled the Marist Brothers’ Rules in about 73 % of the articles; that of Brother Polycarp in about 16% a – Brother Adrian contributed about 11 %” (p. 16).

The book Our Rules (1981) reported Roux’s analysis in a different fashion: of the 2,055 lines in the 1867 Rules, 1,500 came from the Marist Brothers, 330 came from Brother Polycarp, and 225 from Brother Adrian. Looking at this issue in still another way, Our Rules (1981) noted that

Brother Adrian kept, in whole or in part, 82 articles from Brother Polycarp’s Rules. Since these contained 228 articles, it [meant] that the Rules of 1867 maintain[ed] 36 % of those of 1843.

But it is even more interesting to discover that Brother Adrian’s Rules contain[ed] the same doctrine, the same guidelines, the same Institute characteristics, the same mission as the earlier legislation. (p. 17)

Several different sources addressed the reasoning behind the use of the Marist Brothers Rules. The book Brothers of the Sacred Heart (1961) noted that both the Marist and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart Rules were drawn from identical sources: the Rule of St. Augustine and the Constitutions of St. Ignatius. The book Our Rules (1981) recognized that “Brother Adrian must have discovered that the Rules of the Marist Brothers were better adapted to our situation than were those of the Christian Brothers or the Constitutions of the Jesuits, Brother Polycarp’s sources” (p. 16). Roux (1973) speculated in this manner:

One conjecture is this: Brother Polycarp had drawn up his Rules in 1843, pattern-ing them after those of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, these being probably the only Rules for teaching Brothers in existence.

Nine years later the Marist Brothers published theirs. On reading these, Brother Polycarp himself must have realized that, as they were drafted for an institute founded at the same time and in the same region as ourselves, for teachers in rural areas and small schools, they would be better suited for us than those of the Christian Brothers, founded long before and whose field of action was the large cities and who lived, therefore, in large houses. (pp.16-17)

Brother Adrian’s Rules, despite several later revisions, remained in force for over a century. Important changes were carried out at the General Chapter of 1900, which aligned the Rules with the new Constitutions. Additional modifications were made at the Chapter of 1919, bringing the Rules into conformity with the new Code of Canon Law, and also at the Chapter of 1946, which removed obsolete articles and added a chapter on family spirit.

The Rules and Constitutions of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart were not revised again until the period after the Second Vatican Council, when all religious orders were required to review and update their legislation. As Ratte (1972) reported, “until the conclusion of the Special Chapter of 1968-1970 ... [the] Rules – those of Brother Adrian­ remained rather Marist in both ideas and form, despite the changes that were regularly made in them” (p. 7).

Constitutions of 1874

The General Chapter of 1867, having adopted a new set of Rules, adjourned without addressing the need for a set of Constitutions. At that point in its history, the Institute possessed no Constitutions, except a few chapters which Brother Polycarp had sketched with the help of two of his assistants, Brother Adrian Tailland and Brother Jean-Marie Brunet, and which the General Chapter of 1856 had approved with the title of “Statutes.”

As Superior General, Brother Adrian brought the matter to the General Chapter of 1874, whose delegates spent 24 of 25 sessions studying and deciding on the final wording of the Constitutions. As the book Brothers of the Sacred Heart (1961) outlined

...these Constitutions formed a rather extensive code of nearly 400 articles. Part I dealt with the organization of the Institute: its members, their mode of life, their government, and their works. Part II defined the duties of the various offices: the Superior General, the Assistants, the Secretary, the Econome [treasurer], the Visitors, the Directors, and the Novice Masters. (p. 85)

Roux (1973) traced the sources of the Constitutions of 1874. He noted that Brother Adrian had made several small changes in the Statutes which, after 1874, constituted the first chapter of the new Constitutions. Brother Adrian prepared four articles to be added to the text already approved. In addition, he composed a chapter concerning clothing, another about food, one about establishing new houses, and two on the qualities and the duties of the Superior General. Roux stated also that Brother Adrian “had taken from the Christian Brothers a chapter on admission of candidates, one on the vows, one on the Secretary General, one on the General Treasurer, and one on the Novice Master” (p. 18).

The General Chapter of 1874 approved the Constitutions after some amendments were adopted. Roux (1973) noted that “Brother Polycarp had done about 57% of the articles, Brother Adrian had done about 20% of the remainder. The rest he copied from the Christian Brothers” (p. 19).

Constitutions of 1927

Brother Norbert St. Chély succeeded Brother Adrian as Superior General in 1887. During his term, Brother Norbert advanced his predecessor’s work by providing a new and considerably revised set of Constitutions, which he worked on from 1890 to 1900. The General Chapter of 1900 approved them and decided to apply them on an experimental basis before submitting them to the Sacred Congregation of Religious for official approval.

Roux (1971) noted that at the General Chapter of 1906, nearly 80 articles were revised to bring them into conformity with the recently promulgated Normae, a code of laws published by the Sacred Congregation of Religious in 1901 to govern religious institutes whose members had simple vows. A revised edition of the Constitutions which took into consideration these reformulations was issued in 1907.

Brother Albéric, the Superior General who presided at the General Chapter of 1912, felt it was time to freeze the text of the Constitutions for submission for Roman approval. While desiring to bring the Constitutions into line with the Normae,

. . .he wished to retain certain disparities already traditional among us and which seemed necessary; for example, calculating the year of vows from annual retreat to annual retreat instead of from calendar date to calendar date; the naming of Directors for six terms of one year each instead of for two terms of three years; and a few other customs. (Roux, 1971, p. 22)

In 1914, Brother Albéric's revision gained an ad experimentum approval for seven years, so another revised edition of the Constitutions was published in 1915.

Roux (1971) reported that at the General Chapter of 1919, following the publication of the new Code of Canon Law in 1917, some articles were again revised. The seven-year ad experimentum approval having expired in 1921, the General Chapter of 1925 approved a definitive text to submit to the Sacred Congregation of Religious. On February 7, 1927, the Sacred Congregation granted final approval of the Constitutions, bringing to a conclusion a process which had begun during Brother Polycarp’s term as Superior General, and which had been carried forward for more than 60 years through the terms of five of his successors.

Rule of Life (1984)

The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) set in motion an extensive change in the Rules of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. The bishops of the Council, decreeing in Perfectae Caritatis that all religious orders of both men and women should renew themselves, set the course by stating that “the up-to-date renewal of the religious life comprises both a constant return to the sources of the whole of the Christian life and to the primitive inspiration of the institutes, and their adaptation to the changed conditions of our time” (Flannery, 1975, p. 612).

To implement this Council decision, Pope Paul VI (1966) directed that each congregation should convene

...a special general chapter, either ordinary or extraordinary, ... within two or at most three years to promote the adaptation and renewal of each institute. This chapter can be divided into two distinct periods, separated generally by not more than a year, if the chapter itself so decides by secret vote. (p. 29)

For the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, this decree prompted a Special General Chapter conducted in two sessions, one in 1968 and the other in 1970, which addressed the updating of the legislation in place at that time, that is, the Rules originally composed by Brother Adrian in 1867 and the Constitutions, first proposed by the General Chapter of 1874, revised in several succeeding ones, and given final Vatican approval in 1927.

The book Our Rules in the History of the Institute (1981) found that the work resulting from the two sessions of the Special General Chapter 1968-70 was not merely a revision but a completely new version of the order’s legislation. Anticipating exhaustive work on the Rule, the Chapter delegates at the first session appointed a permanent commission to prepare a new text for the Chapter’s consideration. This commission first studied all the documents from the 1968 provincial and regional chapters. After working through about a dozen drafts, the commission members arrived at a consensus that led to the formulation of ‘themes that appeared in the ad experimentum version of the Rule of Life approved at the second session in 1970.

Ratté (1970) stated that while the commission worked on improving the suggested texts of the Rules, it simultaneously prepared a “Book of Government,” that was destined to become part of a wider project on the Constitutions that included the major themes of the legislation to be adopted later by the Institute.

Goulet (1984) reported that the text prepared by the international commission was studied, modified, or amplified, then approved by the second session of the Special General Chapter in 1970. The project, entitled Rule of Life of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, had two sections: the first, the “Rule,” strongly accented the spiritual elements that characterized the religious life of a Brother of the Sacred Heart; the second section, the “Constitutions,” contained primarily the juridical elements. Goulet further reported that from 1970 to 1976, the Institute, through its General Administration, made concerted efforts to have the spirit of the new legislation become part of the life of each member of the congregation.

Lafrenière (1971) described this new set of Rules as being very much to the point. He advanced the belief that the Rule of Life was “a call to proceed according to the Spirit rather than along the path of observance of a multiplicity of specific regulations that would try to foresee and guard against all possible handicaps to the search for God” (p.6). More particularly, Lafrenière saw this new Rule as a direct response to the Second Vatican Council’s call for significant updating:

...our Rule is the expression of our spiritual renewal. It tries to be in tune with the times. A healthy self-criticism of our lives as religious and of the reasons for our existence in a changing world has suggested new orientations, more flexibility in structures, a decentralization of authority, especially in favor of local commu-nities, an emphasis on br

Previous Table of Contents Next