Avelyn Hebert, a young woman from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, joined the Daughters of the Holy Spirt and was sent to Brittany in France for Novitiate where she took the religious name Elizabeth. During four years in France she encountered Fr. Mateo of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the founder of the Apostolate of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in the Home, who was preaching the Enthronement throughout France at that time. Whether Sr. Elizabeth heard Fr. Mateo speak at a retreat or learned about his message, “he sowed the seed in her heart” and she became an ardent apostle of the love of the Sacred Heart and the apostolate of the Enthronement.
Returning to the United States Sr. Elizabeth was assigned to Waterbury, Connecticut, where she began work as a District Nurse, visiting families one by one. She had her first family Enthronement ceremony in Waterbury, CT in 1925.
In 1928 Sr. Elizabeth was transferred to Newport, Rhode Island, where she spent many years, continuing her work as a district nurse and promoting the apostolate of the Enthronement. At that time there was an enthusiastic and vibrant Chapter of the Men of the Sacred Heart in Rhode Island, whose apostolate was promoting Enthronement of the Sacred Heart in families. They published a newsletter, Heart Beat, where Sr. Elizabeth was highly praised for her apostolic work. The President of the Chapter wrote of the apostolate of the men: Enthronements, visiting homes and hospitals and
“with the help of Sr. Elizabeth, a campaigner for many years, instructing and bringing many souls into the Church, all through the hearts of Jesus and Mary. Sister reminds us that we judge a tree (the Enthronement) by its fruits and it has been her happiness to serve as a channel of God’s grace. She is a true inspiration.”
Heart Beat, MSH Vol 1, No 2, June/July 1975
Fr. Andrew Jahn, SS.CC. who was promoting the Enthronement apostolate in the late 1940’s met Sr. Elizabeth in Rhode Island and learned of her twenty-four years of ministry in the family Enthronement apostolate. Fr. Andrew was so impressed by Sr. Elizabeth’s zeal for this ministry that he requested Sr. Elizabeth to write an account of her experience as a promoter of the Enthronement in families. Sister graciously accepted his request and wrote a very interesting account of her ministry. Sister Elizabeth died May 19th, 1989.
During the next few months we will be publishing Sister Elizabeth’s reflections on her ministry in installments. The first account follows.
Quality and not quantity was the aim. I figured that an Enthronement where our Lord wouldn't get more love after than before wasn't worthwhile having.
Dear Father Andrew,
You've asked me to write and tell about my experiences and the help I received from the Sacred Heart during the twenty four years that I've been spreading the Enthronement. As you know Father Mateo sowed the seed in my heart when I was in France. On the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Mother I arrived in Waterbury, Connecticut after a stay of four years in France. Our Blessed Mother led me to the Sacred Heart. As you know it was on the 19th of February 1925 that my first solemn Enthronement took place. It was a wonderful revelation for me. A Star was shining in my sky. I was urged to follow it. After my first Enthronement and the wonderful results that followed, I brought the Sacred Heart into every family I visited. Being a district nurse, I had wonderful opportunities to do so. At first I was awkward in explaining and it cost me many an effort to overcome my shyness. Nevertheless, Our Lord blessed my efforts. I brought Him in, he did the rest. I must say I never brought Him anywhere in vain. The Sacred Heart became the obsession of my life. He was so mercifully kind to me, a poor sinner; I felt I never could do enough to show Him my love and gratitude.
The Enthronement work being deep work is therefore slow work. Instead of embracing the work as a whole, I worked on one family at a time. Quality and not quantity was the aim. I figured that an Enthronement where our Lord wouldn't get more love after than before wasn't worthwhile having. (emphasis added) A picture had to be brought first and I insisted on having it exposed in the parlor or main room. Sometimes it was hard to make some people understand that. They thought that a Sacred Heart picture should be only in a bedroom. Then I had to explain the Enthronement, visit a family, three, four, ten times before they were ready. It took time to light the fire. Very often my success wasn't complete until I had interviewed the man of the house and conquered him. I made them promise to renew their consecration together every night adding a decade of the rosary when a whole one was too much for some.
In Waterbury, the Sacred Heart brought peace to Mr. and Mrs. S…. just a few days after the Enthronement. Mr. and Mrs. S… weren't of the same faith. Mrs. was Catholic and was bringing up her three children in her faith and a few days before I was called there, her father who was living with her, had suffered a shock. He wasn't a Catholic but through his daughter's influence and God's grace he asked to be admitted to the Catholic faith. A mixed marriage caused friction and bitter arguments in the home of Mr. and Mrs. S…. so that when I first visited them, they weren’t in speaking terms for about three months. Mr. S… made his appearance for meals and a cold uneasy silence accompanied them. Mrs. S…. was so unhappy about it. It was hell on earth, she said. So, I told her I had a wonderful remedy for her troubles and the best I could I explained about the Enthronement, brought her a 15 x 20 picture of the Sacred Heart (Garcia Moreno) (here I must say that I had heard about the Secretariat in Fairhaven and had obtained pictures from there with my superior’s permission; she encouraged me in my work). She hung it well in view in the parlor. One of the curates of the parish came to officiate at the Enthronement. Mr. S. wasn't there but we consecrated him to our Lord in spite of himself. A few days after the Enthronement I happened to meet him in the parlor, as I was leaving the house later than usual. (On his return from work Mr. S…. would sit in the parlor without greeting his wife and when she'd announce to the children that the meal was ready he'd walk in.) I greeted him, spoke a few words about the work and taking leave I said I would pray for him and his little family. Mrs. S…. told me the next morning that as soon as I had gone, he went looking for her and said: “Sally, why don't you speak to me?” and she answered: “And why don't you talk to me?” For a few minutes they brought their grievances out and then made peace with each other. From then on they had arguments but didn't pout. to be continued