Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 7, 2009
Hearts Home serves poor, suffering
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - It might seem unusual for the residents of the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn to see French missionaries walking their streets each afternoon reciting the rosary together.
Heart's Home, started in 1990 as strictly a volunteer organization by Father Thierry de Roucy, serves the poor and suffering in the world by letting these people know someone cares about them. Volunteers visit the poor, the sick, the terminally ill and the incarcerated.
The French priest found that after a few years, some of the volunteers wanted to continue in Heart's Home through a lifelong commitment.
So de Roucy founded the Servants of God's Presence, an order of religious sisters; the Sacerdotal Fraternity of Molokai for the priesthood; and a fraternity for men and women who wanted to pursue the lay consecrated vocation.
But what has been most prevalent for Heart's Home is the vocation of the lay volunteer. They serve in 20 different countries, in places such as Peru, Senegal, Brazil, Thailand, Germany and El Salvador.
Since 1990, the organization based in France has trained 1,200 volunteers. Community life is sustained by daily Mass and daily rosary.
De Roucy said that while praying the rosary he received the call to found a "work of compassion and consolation" to send young people on missionary work abroad for a year or two. Heart's Home requires a commitment of at least 14 months.
Its only mission in the U.S. was opened in 2003 in the South Bronx to minister to Spanish-speaking people.
"Many people couldn't believe it when they came," said resident Lourdes Renero Alvarez. "Here were young French people who left their careers behind to serve poor Hispanics in the South Bronx, becoming part of their family and becoming their friends."
The group relocated to Brooklyn in 2008.
The U.S. community currently consists of three nuns, a recently ordained transitional deacon, two lay consecrated women, a lay consecrated man and three volunteers.
Sister Blandine Paponaud, one of three religious sisters in Brooklyn, was a Heart's Home missionary in Honduras.
For her, the experience "of unconditional love in the community" and of God's love gave her "the desire to go on this mission of love and compassion," she said.
The number of Heart's Home lay volunteers is currently 200, spread among its 35 missions worldwide. Last year saw the highest number ever of U.S. and Canadian volunteers.
Amy Koreski of Spokane, Wash., who graduated from Gonzaga University in 2007, recently returned to the U.S. from 14 months as a Heart's Home volunteer in Honduras.
"For me, my work among the poor and suffering was greatly complemented by daily adoration, daily Mass and daily rosary and community life," Koreski said.
More information about Heart's Home is available at the community's website, usa.heartshome.org, or by calling (718) 522-2121.
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