The Brothers of the Sacred Heart were founded by a French priest, Father Andre Coindre (1787 – 1826) in 1821. He founded the Institute to “rescue young people from ignorance, to prepare them for life, and to gain them a knowledge and love of religion.” Nearly 200 years later, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and their partners in mission work in 32 countries around the world. As it was from the beginning, the work of the institute is focused on the education and formation of young people.
Founder of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.
In his formative years Conidre witnessed the devastating aftermath of the French Revolution which included the persecution of the church and the destruction of the institutions that hold a society together. Coindre’s experience of a society in disarray and the effect it had on the young led him to action. In 1818 he established an orphanage and trade school for homeless boys to get them out of adult prisons and off the streets where they had little positive guidance or role models. In order to provide a stable and well-trained workforce for his enterprise, Father Coindre gathered ten recruits to form his religious congregation, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, on September 30, 1821. These men and the dedicated laypeople who supported the orphanage committed themselves to the work of Catholic education.
Expansion to the United States
After Coindre’s death, the Institute struggled. On September 13, 1841, Brother Polycarp was chosen by the Brothers as their first brother Superior General. It was Brother Polycarp who responded to the plea from Bishop Portier of Mobile, Alabama, to send brothers to work in the orphanage there. On September 23, 1846, five brothers left their homeland and arrived in Mobile on January 11, 1847
First Superior General of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart
Founding of St. Stanislaus
Father Stanislaus Buteux, pastor of Our Lady of the Gulf Church, invited the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in Mobile, Alabama, to come to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Father Buteux had built a classroom for boys behind the Church in 1852 and had engaged four Christian Brothers to teach there but they left in 1853 because of the yellow fever epidemic. In June of 1854, Father Buteux welcomed three Brothers of the Sacred Heart. Thus the institution to be known as Saint Stanislaus began.
Father Stanislaus Buteux
On February 24, 1855, the Brothers bought a strip of land 140 feet wide between Bookter and Union Streets. With the help of Brother Lucius Ramond and a few local workers, Brother Leo designed and constructed a modest wooden building at a cost of $3,800. It served as a school and residence combined. The Brothers named their new school St. Stanislaus Academy after the patron saint of youth, St. Stanislaus and in recognition of Father Stanislaus Buteux, a true benefactor whose help and encouragement enabled the Brothers to establish a simple school that would soon grow from its humble beginnings into the most renowned educational institution along the Gulf Coast.
The Spirit of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart
Father Andre Coindre, the founder of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, preached and acted upon the spirit of compassion that Jesus exemplified through his own life. By responding to the abandoned youth in the city of Lyon, Father Coindre gave of himself, of his own heart. This spirit of compassion is what motivates the Brothers today.
Today, there are more than 900 brothers serving in 36 countries. In addition to Saint Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, the brothers serve on school faculties:
- Bishop Guertin High School, Nashua, NH
- Brother Martin High School, New Orleans, LA
- Catholic High School, Baton Rouge, LA
- Cor Jesu College, Digo City, PH
- Edward Douglas White Catholic High School, Thibodaux, LA
- Monsignor McClancy Memorial High School, East Elmhurst, NY
- Mount Saint Charles Academy, Woonsocket, RI
- Saint Joseph High School, Metuchen, NJ
- St. Columba’s College, St Albans, UK
- Vandebilt Catholic High School, Houma, LA
Father Coindre wanted the members of the Institute to be brothers living the values specific to the religious life and committing themselves to a stable way to the service of the Church and society. Its constitutions were modeled upon those of the Jesuits, while its Rule of Life was based upon the Rule of St. Augustine. Its members bind themselves for life by simple vows of religion.