Men's group promotes Sacred Heart enthronement -- one home at a time

FAIRHAVEN -- The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and perhaps no one in Massachusetts appreciates this devotion more than the Men of the Sacred Heart, who promote peace by holding enthronements to the Sacred Heart in people's homes.

Ed Houde and Joe Amaral, both of New Bedford, travel to various Massachusetts cities and towns to help enthrone families to the Sacred Heart. Speaking to The Pilot on June 14, Houde said they travel in groups just as the apostles did.

"I look at it as following in the footsteps of St. Paul, evangelizing and traveling," Houde said.

He compared their efforts to a set of dominos, with one knocking down the next. In a similar way, they try to spread the devotion one person or family at a time.

Amaral became involved with the group over a decade ago after witnessing the enthronement of his brother's home. He said the enthronement Mass is like when a bishop is enthroned in his diocese. It indicates that Jesus is the head of the house.

"Once we get that peace, which is the tranquility of order, God first in our lives, everything else will fall into place," Amaral said.

When a family is interested in having their home enthroned, the Men of the Sacred Heart will visit them to talk about the history of devotion to the Sacred Heart. They bring statues of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Sacred Heart of Jesus for the family to keep in their home for two weeks. During that time, the family is to pray certain prayers each day, including the rosary, the Litany to the Sacred Heart, and consecration prayers.

At the end of the two weeks, they hold the enthronement Mass in the home, typically with the family's parish priest, although the society has sometimes brought a priest from a local religious community. The Men of the Sacred Heart encourage families to invite their friends and relatives to the enthronement Mass, which is often followed by a meal or celebration.

Houde and Amaral both emphasized that the enthronement concerns the family, not the building. During the Mass, each member of the household signs a certificate, which is put in a place of honor where it can easily be seen.

Chapter President David Fredette said he thinks of enthronement of the Sacred Heart as similar to the lamb's blood on the Israelites' door posts on the night of the Passover.

"I am consistently amazed at the stories of healings, savings, and general graces poured out upon the numerous families who have had their families and homes enthroned. It is a protective shield in many ways and an insurance against evil things as long as the families take it seriously," Fredette said.

Devotion to the Sacred Heart originated with St. Gertrude the Great and was later popularized by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. But it was Father Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SSCC, who founded the enthronement apostolate in 1907. After receiving a miraculous healing on a visit to Paray-le-Monial, France, he received permission from Pope Pius X to promote enthronement in people's homes. He then traveled across Europe and Asia, and eventually North America, encouraging families to enthrone themselves and, as St. Paul did, leave behind leaders to watch over the community after he left.

When Father Crawley-Boevey visited Fairhaven, Massachusetts, he met Father Francis Larkin, who would later begin the Men of the Sacred Heart chapter there. At that time, most of the lay people involved in parish life were women, so Father Larkin wanted to find a way to get more men involved. He appealed to the Knights of Columbus in Mattapoisett for volunteers, and in 1964 they established their Men of the Sacred Heart chapter. Other chapters exist in California, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, and Texas.

Father Casmia Bello of St. Anne Parish in Salem has celebrated Masses of enthronement several times for the group. The tradition is practiced in his home country of Cameroon, so he was already familiar with it when he became connected with the Men of the Sacred Heart.

"I think that's a wonderful devotion," he said in a June 20 interview.

He said he thinks the enthronement is a response to Jesus, who says that he stands at the door and knocks, and promises to eat with whoever opens the door (Revelation 3:20).

"I think people are opening their homes, accepting Jesus to be with them, to live with them," Father Bello said.

He also quoted Matthew 11:28-30, when Jesus invites the weary to take up his yoke and find rest. He said that wherever Jesus is accepted, things change.

"It's a reminder to us of who we are called to be, to show love in our hearts and in our day-to-day activities, to be 'gentle and humble of heart' as Jesus is," Father Bello said.

He said he would encourage more people to take up this devotion and enthrone Jesus in their homes.

"It's a very concrete way to remind us of the love of God, and we are all called to imitate that love. We are all called to share that love. The Sacred Heart devotion is all about the love of God," Father Bello said.

Houde said they have a long waiting list of people who want their homes enthroned. He also cited their need for more people to be involved with their group, as their membership is declining due to age.

Those interested in learning more about enthronement to the Sacred Heart can contact Joe Amaral at or 774-510-8903.