The Congregation of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart was established in Lyons, France, in 1820, by Father André Coindre, of the Society of Missionaries, who preached the Word of God in all the large cities in France after the Revolution. Father Coindre was well known for hiszeal and piety in this great work. Ordained in 1812, in his native city of Lyons, he became interested in the homeless waifs of the street, growing up without a knowledge of God. To provide a home for these destitute boys he founded a “Providence,” an asylum with trade school annexed, in 1815. To care for, and teach these children, he hired laymen, but he soon found that these men failed to meet the requirements concerning either the spiritual or temporal welfare of his boys. “Providence, which places heroic designs in the hearts of the saints,” observes a writer, “knows also how to furnish means for executing these same designs. Called from above to enlighten souls, and cause them to produce fruit, saints never remain solitary. Around them, as around stars, appear, at the same time marked by God, docile satellites, who follow them in their revolutions.”
Father Coindre persuaded a young friend to give up the world, and live only for Christ. This young man, known later as Brother Xavier, was placed in charge of the institution in 1820, and this was the humble beginning of the institute of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. A year later Father Coindre had eleven members to help him. The first retreat they made, Father Coindre celebrated Mass, and consecrating the members to the Blessed Virgin, he placed the order under her protection. He then gave them the Rule of St. Augustine, and the constitutions of St. Ignatius. In 1826, Father Coindre died suddenly, but his work was continued by his brother Vincent, who was also a priest. Father Vincent knew his brother’s hopes and plans, and was in sympathy with the work. In 1841, he resigned, and was succeeded by Brother Polycarp, who became superior general.
In 1847 he sent five Brothers to the United States at the request of the late Bishop Portier of Mobile, to take charge of the parochial schools and asylums. A year later they opened a novitiate, but in 1878 it was removed to Canada. Since then the Congregation has flourished, and opened new establishments in the dioceses of New Orleans, Natchez, Mobile, Savannah, Trenton, Indianapolis, Manchester, Providence, Boston, Indian Territory, and about thirty places in Canada. The novitiate for the United States was opened in 1901, at Metuchen, N.J., where boys and young men are received and trained to the religious life. The American community numbers now more than two hundred Brothers, and fifty novices, and over five thousand children attend their colleges and schools. The provincial for the United States is Brother Isidore, St. Stanislaus College, Bay St. Louis, Miss.
Henry Coyle, Theodore Mayhew, and Frank S. Hickey, eds., Our Church, Her Children and Institutions (Three Volumes) (Boston: Angel Guardian Press, 1908), II, 157.