Our Community History
75+ YEARS OF GRATEFUL LOVE
Sister Ida's Call
The First 25 Years
The Charism continues...
Discover the beauty of a Call from God and the results of responding wholeheartedly.
Sister Ida's Call
Ida is born
October 7, 1922, Ida Peterfy was born in Kosice, Czechoslovakia to a Hungarian family (before 1920 this city was part of Hungary and was known as Kassa—presently Kosice, Slovakia). She was the only child of Dr. Joseph Peterfy, a professor of law and history and later director of the city library; she was the fourth daughter of her mother, Ida Kristof, who had been widowed during World War I.
Ida's Faith grows
A cheerful and determined child, Ida knew God was close to her family; they knew Him, trusted Him and referred to Him in everyday events, but they were not overly pious. In her own words: “Why did God give me the gift of Faith? Out of His 100% love, so that I would know Him. We cannot love someone we do not know, and therefore, I think that the gift of Faith precedes any other gift. That gift was given to me very early in my childhood. We were not very religious at home, just ‘nice and Catholic’. Dad did not receive the Sacraments until I became a religious, and I did not talk him into receiving them. Mother became a frequent communicant after I became a religious also, but not before.”
A personal relationship with God
Ida attended the Ursuline Sisters’ elementary school. Religion was taught by a priest, but it was the Sisters who were quite influential in preparing her for First Communion.
In her own words: “My relationship to the ‘good God’ became much more personal as I learned about Him when we were preparing for First Holy Communion in the second grade. First Communion made a deep impression on me. The Ursuline Sisters' Mother Gonzaga, who read to us during embroidery class about the Irish persecution, was of help. The faith of the Irish people, the reality of their risking their lives to have Mass in their homes helped me to realize the preciousness of the Eucharist.”
Ida was also a charter member and first captain of the Sacred Heart League which was established at that time.
Scouting with Faith
Ida begins Gymnasium (5th -12th grade) with a new teacher, Elizabeth Hanka. In addition to teaching, Elizabeth also begins a Girl Scout Troop, of which Ida is a charter member. For Hungarian minorities in Czechoslovakia, religion entered every aspect of life. In the Girl Scout movement, Ida shared the common ideal of loving God and one’s neighbor. They were active in many areas, often helping the poor with food and clothes, but the highlight was their summer camp. She learned ecumenism in these camps where Catholics, Protestants and Jews all prayed together each day.
No longer a minority
Great joy is felt through the city when Kassa is annexed to Hungary again and the Hungarian minority’s life changed. Ida and the Scouts who had felt the burdens of being a minority, decided to be as good to the Slovaks as they had wished the Slovaks would have been to them.
Pax Ting: Girl Scout World Camp
Due to her leadership and dedication, Ida is chosen as one of 12 leaders to represent Hungary for the Pax Ting, the first Girl Guide and Girl Scout World Camp held in Gödöllő, Hungary in 1939. She is also part of the honor guard which stood in front of the governor, Miklós Horthy and Princess Sybilla of Sweden.
Decision for others
In the summer of 1939, the Girl Scouts were asked by the mayor of Kassa to direct a two week camp for 120 girls. When asked by her teacher if she could substitute her as Camp Director, Ida abandons her promising, fun-filled vacation at a lake resort—in order to take the lead. She is 16 years old.
The religious knowledge of the children was very sporadic. Ida is challenged to introduce the Lord to them and change the children’s fearful and ignorant attitudes about God. The need to teach them in a gentle and effective way sparked Ida’s imagination to find approaches that were attractive to the children and captured their attention. To make the Jesus of the Bible come to life, she told them Bible stories to introduce them to God who is loving and caring, illustrating the stories with available props (like twigs) moving them as the characters of the stories. This was the beginning of her unique catechetical charism for teaching religion (now known as the Five Step Illustrated Method).
Ida, only a high school student, is invited to participate in the Prohaszka Circle, a study group for university students conducted by Msgr. Nicholas Pfeiffer. They studied the teachings of Thomas Aquinas and the social encyclicals: “Rerum Novarum” and “Quadragesimo Anno.” Ida then organizes the high school branch of the Prohaszka Circle.
Life changing event described in Sister Ida’s own words:
“A great change in my relationship to God took place during the first silent retreat in my life, before my senior year. It was held right after the summer camp for the poor children. In the quietness of the retreat, two ideas struck me, stood out as vital; something that had never occurred to me before. One thought was God’s relationship to me. Until then, I felt that the initiative to contact God, to know, love and serve Him was ‘my doing.’ During this retreat, the newness of God loving me first, knowing me by name, choosing me as His child in Baptism, brought forth a new response of awe and a very personal love. Jesus became totally an ‘insider’ who did not only love me ‘in general’ but one who was in love with me very personally.
The thought that ‘the Church’ needs to do something to teach the children became an urgent reality. With the threat of Nazi invasion of the country it became an even more urgent reality. The solution seemed very clear and simple in the light of the retreat, ‘You are the Church, you, teach the children.’”
Private Profession of Vows
On October 7, 1940, her 18th birthday, Ida professes private, perpetual vows before the Blessed Sacrament in the Franciscan Church in Kassa, Hungary. This marks the Foundation Day of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The First 25 Years
God does not give a road map.
Consecration of City of Kassa
With co-workers and the encouragement of the mayor, Sister Ida is asked to organize the preparation of the youth for public Consecration of the City of Kassa to the Sacred Heart on June 24, 1941. Bishop Joseph Madarasz warmly approves the work and attends the youth rallies. He publicly endorses and praises Sister Ida’s dynamic address and explanation of the Novena preparation for the Consecration of the youth. The Bishop compares her to Margaret Schlachta, foundress of the Sisters of Social Service who was also born in Kassa before World War I.
Through the Actio Catholica, Sister Ida organizes the consecration of youth to the Sacred Heart in various cities across the country from 1941 - 1946.
First Companions join Sister Ida
In July of 1941, Hermine Jaschko, first companion of Sister Ida, professes her first vows in Esztergom. Soon after, Aurelia Majorossy joins the Community.
In September, Sister Ida begins studies at Pazmany Peter University of Budapest. She majors in Latin so that she can read the works of St. Thomas Aquinas (not yet translated into Hungarian) and so that she can understand the Liturgy. Sister Ida also conducts leadership courses for young women and catechetical enrichment programs.
In December, Sister Aurelia professes her first vows.
Business School opens
The Community (which has to operate in secret because of the Nazi occupation) opens a business school in Kassa. The business school provides a legitimate title for the Sisters to live together in community and provides a financial support for them.
Russian occupation of Hungary intensifies
As World War II is coming to an end, the frequent bombings of Budapest and major industrial centers begins to paralyze Hungary. The University of Budapest does not open for the Fall of 1944. Despite this, Sister Ida decides to stay in Budapest to continue ministries with adults and young people.
December 24, 1944, the Russian occupation of Hungary intensifies. Sister Ida and a Sister companion move from Budapest to Szekesfehervar, Hungary where they are under the protection of Msgr. Imre Pottyondy, Vicar of the Bishop.
Formulation of Panic Prayer
Sister Aurelia made a “lending library” from the pages of her Missal to other prisoners. She was only released from Russia when a beam fell on her back in a coal mine and broke her vertebrae.
During the oppression of the Communist occupation in Hungary and the constant threat of danger to Sister Ida and her Sisters, on Easter in 1945, Sister Ida formulates her “Panic Prayer,” a prayer of complete trust in God, which her Sisters still pray today.
Catholic Action and Catechetical Formation
Kassa becomes Kosice, Czechoslovakia again.
Sister Ida continues her studies and receives her M.A. with distinction in Hungarian and Latin Linguistics and Literature and acquires her High School teaching credentials.
At the same time, Sister Ida is employed as the national secretary for the Actio Catholica (Catholic Action) and works with the Sacred Heart League.
Catechetical formation courses are conducted by Sister Ida in major Hungarian cities including Budapest and Győr.
First Constitutions and Catechetical publications
Sister Ida receives her Ph.D. with distinction in Philosophy and excellence in Pedagogy.
During this year the first Constitutions of the Community are completed.
September 29, Agnes Raday joins the Community. Soon after, Helen Clare Nagy also joins.
Sister Ida and Sisters undertake printing of “Tele-Course” (Tavkurzus), a catechetical periodical, with the blessing of Cardinal Mindszenty. Father Viragh, SJ writes articles on theology, while Sister Ida contributes methods and lesson plans. The Sisters mimeograph and distribute the periodical even though this is against Communist law. After each use, the machine has to be dismantled and the parts carefully hidden. So as not to arouse suspicion from authorities, the periodical is mailed from a number of post offices and hand-delivered where possible.
Cardinal Mindszenty is arrested
In July, Sister Agnes and Sister Helen Clare profess their First Vows.
On December 26, 1948, Cardinal Josef Mindszenty is arrested. As the political situation becomes increasingly perilous, friends and co-workers in the Hungarian hierarchy advise Sister Ida to leave the country and take the young community to the free world—that it may be developed further, and “later, when possible, return to Hungary.”
Leaving Hungary to Innsbruck
February 14, 1949, Sister Ida leaves from Hungary to Innsbruck, Austria. She prepares the way for the Sisters to follow.
Through a series of providential events, God leads Sister Ida to Innsbruck’s Hungarian High School. Fully qualified to teach, she is the answer to the prayers of the Sisters of Charity who, just four months before graduation, received their visas to go to Holland.
In June, Sister Ida leaves for Canada, the only country then open to immigration. She works as a domestic for one year as part of the immigration agreement and saves her wages ($40 per month) to make arrangements for the passage of the remaining Sisters. Even though the International Refugee Organization (IRO) had been disbanded and sponsoring refugees’ transportation to the American continent had stopped, Sister Ida writes to the IRO director appealing for an exception for her Sisters. He generously grants free passage for the Sisters on the last US military ship for refugees.
Those who desire to continue with the Community take the risk of escaping the country and cross the Iron Curtain two by two to Austria.
Arrival to Canada
On August 15, 1950, the Feast of the Assumption, Sister Hermine, Sister Aurelia, Sister Eva, Sister Agnes and Sister Helen Clare arrive safely to Halifax, Nova Scotia on the US military ship Hershey.
To earn money to get settled and buy a house, Sister Ida and the Sisters work as unskilled laborers for Hungarian farmers in the tobacco harvests in Ontario, Canada.
St. Joseph Press
To support themselves while adjusting to the new life style and learning English, the Sisters purchase used printing equipment and establish St. Joseph’s Press. They print newsletters, bulletins and a weekly newspaper for the parish. They also print a variety of Catholic publications including a Hungarian Prayer book.
With linguistic and Latin knowledge, they print the “Ordo” (Roman Catholic Church guide for priests, detailing the forms of Mass and other services to be followed for each day in the year) for the English-speaking Church in Canada.
The “Marian Year” marks the beginning of the Community’s English speaking apostolate. Sister Ida initiates a solemn consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary and develops a spiritual program to incorporate elementary school children of the Toronto Archdiocese to live out their Catholic Christian faith in a dynamic way. The “Joyful Apostolate” publication is launched, containing catechetical explanations, lessons, good deed cards and puppet show scripts.
Sister Ida and the Sisters organize a large-scale Children’s Day of Prayer to be held in May 1954. Cardinal James McGuigan, Archbishop of Toronto gives his full support.
Sister Ida conducts Teacher Training courses for young women of several nationalities in St. Joseph’s College. She is even able to teach non-professionals to teach religion in an appealing and interesting way without diluting the doctrine. As a result, she is invited to establish and teach a catechetical course at St. Michael’s College, Toronto, Canada.
Sister Ida declines the offer with the intention to settle the Community eventually in the United States.
The Sisters work with Chinese converts in Toronto Canada.
Sister Ida becomes a Canadian citizen. TIME MAGAZINE: Canadian edition writes an article on the Community.
Invitation to USA
Sister Ida presents her unique catechetical Teaching Method in Long Island, New York. She then attends the Religious Education Congress in Buffalo, New York where several bishops invite her to work in their dioceses. Bishop Robert J. Dwyer of Reno, Nevada offers to pay for Sister Ida’s flight to see his diocese. Rather than flying, for the same expense, Sister Ida and two Sisters drive to Reno via Los Angeles in their first station wagon.
Arrival to Los Angeles
In Los Angeles, James Francis Cardinal McIntyre invites Sister Ida to open the Motherhouse in Los Angeles.
Mother Margarita, Superior of the Carmelites of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles, generously welcomes the Sisters to temporarily live with them until they can move into a more permanent convent of their own. The Carmelite Sisters also give a beautiful picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Sisters as a gift.
Welcome in the Los Angeles Tidings
On February 1, 1957, The Los Angeles Tidings runs an article about the Sisters entitled: “Check, Friday, These are Plain-Clothes Sisters”. (This is a reference to Dragnet, a popular television program at the time) While mentioning their civilian dress, it describes their vowed life, escape from Hungary, and apostolate as catechists.
"Although they wear nylons and style their hair as they please, the attractive, smiling young women have taken the customary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They have dedicated themselves entirely to God…Even in free Canada and the United States their mode of dress has its advantages. 'People feel free to ask us silly questions they would not dare ask a priest or nun.' Sister Ida said. 'We can dispel a lot of misconceptions about the Catholic Faith.'” (excerpt from Tidings article)
Teacher Training Courses
Msgr. John Clarke, the Los Angeles Archdiocesan Director of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), asks Sister Ida to conduct catechetical Teacher Training courses at 10 centers throughout the city and county of Los Angeles.
Leadership Courses begin
Sister Ida is much sought after as a guest speaker for various parishes and Church organizations including Women’s Councils, Knights of Columbus, Serra Clubs, and Catholic Daughters of America.
Leadership Courses are also conducted for high school and college age girls.
Sister Hermine and Sister Helen Clare arrive to Los Angeles after completing the closing of the convent in Canada.
The Joyful Apostolate
The “Joyful Apostolate”, originally the name of the Community Newsletter, becomes identified with the religious education charism of the growing Religious Community. It spreads through Catechist Formation, Summer Camps for Children, Parish Religious Education, and Schools of Prayer for adults both in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and in the Diocese of Reno.
Formalization of our Habit
Sister Ida asks Cardinal McIntyre if the community should adopt the more traditional religious garb and a veil. In the United States, the Sisters had begun to wear a simple beige dress with a Sacred Heart badge.
Sister Ida explained that during the first beginnings of the community, she had two important reasons for not adopting a traditional habit:
1) to be able to work in the apostolate undetected during those years of religious persecution, and
2) to be more approachable to those young people who had been alienated from the Church by Nazism and Communism.
Cardinal McIntyre listened, and then said: “Sister Ida, stay as you are. Don’t change. The Church will need you as you are.”
The habit of our community is later described in our Constitutions: "As an outward sign of our consecrated life, we wear a habit which is simple in style, neutral and alike in color. It is similar to the conventional dress of modest Christian women in the country where our Sisters live. We wear a silver badge of the Sacred Heart, the emblem of our Society."
Citizen of the Year
Sister Ida becomes a US Citizen and is honored by Loyola University as “Citizen of the Year.”
Sister Ida and a team of Sisters conduct catechist formation courses in Spanish in La Paz, Baja California, at the request of Msgr. Juan Giordani. Sister Yolanda is among the team, her Spanish greatly needed. (The Sisters went for 3 summers ending in 1964.)
The “Catechist Companion” is first translated into Spanish at this time. It is also translated into Japanese and published in the National Catholic Japanese Digest.
Sister Mary Ann graduates Medical School
Sister Mary Ann graduates from Medical School. Sister Mary Ann had been one of the Chinese students who met the Sisters in Canada. She joined the community in 1959 thinking she was giving up going to medical school. Having the foresight to see how God could use Sister Mary Ann's gift for medicine, Sister Ida sent her to St. Louis University Medical School.
This gift later became instrumental in beginning our Mission in Taipei, Taiwan.
Sister Ida celebrates her Silver Jubilee and 25th Anniversary of the foundation of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart. She renews her Vows during a Liturgy celebrated by Bishop John Ward, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles.
First Girls' Camp
The first Girls’ Camp in USA is held at Camp Skylandia, Lake Tahoe, California. Sister Ida leads the camp with a team of 6 Sisters.
My Friend Pookie and Family Camp
The Los Angeles Archdiocesan Director of Communications requests Sister Ida to create a religious program for children for KABC TV.
Sister Ida with her Sisters produces “My Friend Pookie,” a Television series of twenty-seven half-hour shows, airing over a period of three seasons (1970-72). In its first season, it becomes the first religious program to show up in the Nielsen ratings. In 1973 "My Friend Pookie" wins the Gabriel Award for exemplary achievement and public service in the art of communications.
Sister Ida develops Sacred Heart Family Retreat Camp bringing the entire family together in a camp-style retreat where all family members, young and old, receive the same spiritual content on their various age levels. The first Family Camp is held at Lake Tahoe with 7 families. Sister Ida’s vision for serving the married Church comes 10 years before Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio. The total number of families attending Family Camp continues to grow as Sacred Heart Family Camp spreads to other states and other countries.
A.R.C. studies program in Rome
Sister Ida attends A.R.C. (Apostolic Religious Communities) studies program in Rome and receives a post graduate diploma.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Community makes a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City in August of 1973.
Sisters record the LP album “You are My Friend” with songs from their TV show “My Friend Pookie”.
First General Chapter
The First General Chapter is held in Claretville Malibu, California. Sister Ida is elected as Superior General.
A General Chapter is primarily a solemn gathering of a Religious Community under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to elect the Superior General and her Council and to discuss matters concerning the Society in its response to the current needs of the Church and of the world. According to our Constitutions, a General Chapter is held every six years. It is to be “an outstanding manifestation of our sisterly love and zeal to promote the spiritual and apostolic vitality of our Society.” Const. #129
The Community makes a pilgrimage to the 1976 International Eucharistic Congress held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, traveling across the United States by bus sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.
During the pilgrimage, the Community travels on to visit Toronto, Canada where our Sisters were first established in the New World.
2nd Session of First General Chapter
The Second session of the First General Chapter is held in Santa Rosa, California. Sister Ida presents to the Community the updated Constitutions and the inspiration behind them in anticipation of sending them to Rome for final approval.
Groundbreaking for Sacred Heart Retreat Camp
Solemn blessing and ground breaking of Sacred Heart Retreat Camp in Big Bear, California. Bishop Philip E. Straling, Bishop of the San Bernardino Diocese, officiates. Mr. Manuel De La Torre was hired as contractor and building begins.
Dedication of Heart of Jesus Retreat Center & Gentlemen's Haberdashery
September 15, 1979 Dedication of the Heart of Jesus Retreat Center in Santa Ana, California by Bishop William Johnson, Bishop of Orange.
October 25, 1979 The first “Gentlemen’s Haberdashery” Men’s Fashion Show is organized by Orange County Supervisor Thomas Riley, the inspiration of his wife Emma Jane, to benefit the newly established Heart of Jesus Retreat Center. In later years in cooperation with Tony and Melinda Moiso and Rancho Mission Viejo, this delightful and very successful fundraising event showcases influential and up-and-coming Orange County businessmen as they “walk the runway” to support the Sisters’ work with children. The event runs annually for 30 years until 2009. After a brief 5 year pause the event resumes in 2013.
At CBS Studios, Sister Ida is interviewed about the initial inspiration of the community on the Mike Douglas TV Show. Following the interview the Sisters sing the title song of their new album “Like a Tree”, which contains all original songs written by the Sacred Heart Sisters. The show is aired on March 13 before an estimated ten million viewers.
Dedication of Sacred Heart Retreat Camp
The Constitutions of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart are approved by Cardinal Timothy Manning, Archbishop of Los Angeles.
The Sacred Heart Retreat Camp facility in Big Bear Lake, California opens in the Year of the Family with 3 Family Camps. The Camp is dedicated and blessed by Bishop Philip Straling, Bishop of the Diocese of San Bernardino during the closing Mass of Family Camp on June 29, 1980.
Fashion with a Heart
Fifth Annual Women's Fashion Show fundraiser "Fashion with a Heart" to benefit the Heart of Jesus Retreat Center, held in the Grand Ballroom of the Disneyland hotel.
The Sisters (at the invitation of Salvador “Tutti” Camaratta) help write lyrics and original songs for the recording and release of "A Cry in the Wilderness" album. The songs on this album give a presentation of Our Lord's life based on the Gospel of Saint Mark.
Second General Chapter
Prior to the Second General Chapter, not wishing the community to rely solely on her, Sister Ida asked the Sisters to elect someone else as Superior General. The Community elects Sister Eva Batta as Superior General. Sister Ida Peterfy is elected Assistant Superior General.
The Church's "Year of Redemption" & Pilgrimage to the Holy Land
The Community is gifted with a Pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land for the Holy Year of Redemption in 1983.
5th Annual Gentlemen's Haberdashery
The Community receives a Telegram from President Ronald Reagan for the 5th Annual Gentlemen's Haberdashery Fundraising Event:
“Many times over the years I have witnessed the greatness of the American Spirit. Compassion for others, creativity in meeting challenges, and determination in accomplishing goals are significant attributes of our people. One example of this spirit is this community salute to the Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart. I am pleased to extend my personal congratulations and commendation to the Sisters for your generous voluntary contribution to your community. Your involvement exemplifies the highest tradition of service to others and enhances the lives of all our citizens. You have my best wishes and encouragement for a most successful luncheon.” – Ronald Reagan
Decree of Erection
"In the signing of this Decree of Erection with gratitude to God We pray that this Institute of consecrated life grow and flourish according to the spirit of its founder, Ida Peterfy and the wholesome traditions which she and her associates have established and in testimony of which We affix Our Signature and Seal on this 24th Day of June 1985.
Signed: Timothy Cardinal Manning"
Opening Mission in Taiwan
Sister Ida always wanted to open a mission in China. With the gift of Sister Mary Ann's medical skills the opportunity becomes available to send a mission team to the Archdiocese of Taipei, Taiwan. Sister Mary Ann Lou begins work in Cardinal Tien Catholic Hospital and two Sisters begin the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office.
Sacred Heart Kids' Club
“Sacred Heart Kids’ Club” complete Video-catechesis production begins. Three Series of videos are completed by 1989: Creed, Sacraments, and Commandments. (30 VHS, half-hour each.)
Since every video includes prayer as an integral component, when the new Catechism of the Catholic Church is released in 1994, the Sacred Heart Kids’ Club is immediately recognized as a dynamic catechetical tool in complete harmony with the four pillars of the Catholic Church: Creed, Sacraments, Commandments, Prayer.
Third General Chapter
Sister Jane Stafford, the first American Superior General is elected. Sister Ida Peterfy is elected Assistant Superior General.
Religious Life Proclamation from Chapter:
"Through the transforming love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, our lives become an acceptable sacrifice of praise to God. It is our common desire to surrender wholeheartedly to this transforming love and become authentic witnesses and living signs of the Real Presence of the Lord Jesus to one another and to the entire human family. Moved by the Holy Spirit who prompts us to genuine love, trust and gratitude for one another, we manifest our oneness with God and cooperate fully with his gifts. The holiness we have received through Baptism, and which is expressed with greater fullness in our Religious Consecration, unites us in a common purpose and binds us together in love. This is the foundation of the hope and joy characteristic of us as a community devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus."
A new Motherhouse is purchased in Northridge, California.
Building a Bigger Heart
Our Heart of Jesus Retreat Center opened 10 years earlier by converting part of the former Borchard estate in Santa Ana which was built in 1933. Since the opening of the Retreat Center, the number of groups steadily increased, with over 5,000 persons coming in recent years.
The conference room, located in a remodeled garage, could not accommodate the requests from parishes to conduct retreats for large groups. To help meet the increased demand for retreats, a group of prominent business and civic leaders in Orange County formed a "Team of Hearts" with the leadership of Tony Moiso, Chairman of the "Building a Bigger Heart" campaign to raise the capital for the expansion of the Heart of Jesus Retreat Center.
Five Step Illustrated Method on Video
In response to the growing need for Catechist Formation, Sister Ida created the “Be a Dynamic and Effective Religion Teacher” video course to bring her unique catechetical method, “The Five Step Illustrated Method,” to catechists and educators everywhere.
We break ground for the new Heart of Jesus Retreat Center in Santa Ana, CA with Bishop Norman McFarland, Bishop of the Diocese of Orange, CA.
50 Years of Grateful Love
October 7, 1990: 50th anniversary of Sister Ida and the foundation of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart. Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, 11 bishops, 83 priests and 3,000 friends celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Sister Ida and the beginnings of the Community.
Golden Jubilee Pilgrimage
On the occasion of our Golden Jubilee Pilgrimage of the Saints to Rome in June 1991, the Sisters are privileged to attend the Mass that the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II celebrates in his private chapel.
Following the celebration of the Mass, the Holy Father personally greets each Sister in his reception room. He greets Sister Ida in Hungarian with the traditional greeting for a Religious Sister.
Bidding farewell, the Holy Father says to the Community, “You are a blessing for the Pope. You are truly American and truly Catholic.”
A Mission established in Hungary
The newly built Heart of Jesus Retreat Center is opened in January 1992, in the Diocese of Orange, California.
After the fall of the Iron Curtain, three Sisters are sent to begin our Mission in Hungary. Sister Ida and Sister Hermine accompany the Sisters. The Sisters' convent and Sacred Heart Center is established in Budapest. Their work extends throughout Hungary and to neighboring countries.
Fourth General Chapter
Fourth General Chapter: Sister Jane Stafford is reelected Superior General. Sister Ida is reelected Assistant Superior General.
Apostolic Decree from Chapter: "Recognizing the Church’s urgent call for more living, dynamic witnesses of Christ’s love and the need to teach with clarity all aspects of our Catholic faith, we, as a Community, proceed with the two-fold aim of vocation promotion and communicating the Truths of our Catholic faith more extensively…We realize that this is not our work, but the movement of the Spirit of Jesus, who inspires, directs, and accomplishes this undertaking through us, for the sake of His Body, the Church."
Sister Ida Diagnosed with Lymphoma
Sister Ida leads the Junior Professed Sisters on a Pilgrimage to the California Missions, visiting 10 Missions.
In June, Sister Ida is diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
While undergoing chemotherapy in July, Sister Ida directs an Ignatian 30 day silent retreat for our Sisters who recently professed final Vows.
Pilgrimage to Hungary
Sister Ida leads the entire community on a pilgrimage to Hungary in the summer, visiting significant sites and recalling the Community’s beginnings.
In her own words: “I remember being in the upper right balcony of the Ursuline church and looking down at the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar surrounded by candles and flowers. It had a very deep impression on me. I had a strong love for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, and I thought that I would happily be a flower in the presence of Our Lord all my life.”
Sister Arlene's Perpetual Vows
Even though quite ill, Sister Ida still attends Sister Arlene Te’s Final Vows in St. John the Baptist Church in Costa Mesa, California on March 27, 1999.
This is the last Vow ceremony that Sister Ida attends in this life.
The Church's Great Jubilee
Celebration of the Great Jubilee of our Lord’s Birth 2000 AD
This event, taking place on our Novitiate property, is given the privilege of the Jubilee indulgence and is attended by 1300 friends of the Community. It includes presentations for different age levels, Eucharistic procession through the city of Chatsworth, confessions and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The solemn opening of the Holy Door preceded the celebration of the Mass.
Sister Ida is called home
Sister Ida's life on earth ended as it had been lived, focused on the One whom she had given her life to, and surrounded by her Sisters who joined her in this love. She passed on to eternal life on February 8, 2000, in the Motherhouse of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart in Northridge, California.
Feb. 12: The Mass of Christian Burial is celebrated for Sister Ida at St. John Eudes Parish in Chatsworth. Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles is the main celebrant; Archbishop Justin Rigali, Archbishop of St. Louis, MO; several Bishops, 40 Priests and 1200 faithful attend the Mass and continue on to her burial at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California.
"We were blessed, for whatever reason in God's providence, to have Sister Ida here, to have the opportunity to know her and love her...we also pray that we would be able to capture that spirit of Sister Ida in our own commitment of faith in Christ, and in our lives we would live out the discipleship which she lived out to the full, and shared with us in such a visionary fashion." - Cardinal Mahony
Two weeks later, Sister Aurelia Majorossy, one of the first companions of Sister Ida in Hungary, passes to eternal life on February 26.
Fifth General Chapter
Back row left to right: Sister Mary Tomasella, Sister Agnes Raday, Sister Elizabeth Normanly
Fifth General Chapter: Sister Lucia Tu is elected the Superior General. Sister Jane Stafford is elected Assistant Superior General.
We record and release our Christmas album, “Love Does Such Things.”
Closing of Great Jubilee
On the feast of the Epiphany, January 7, 2001 we celebrate the closing of the Great Jubilee Year with a day of prayer, gratitude and the official closing of the Holy Door at the Novitiate property in Chatsworth, CA.
Pontifical Appointment for Catechetics
The Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart receives a great privilege: Sister Agnes Raday accepts a pontifical appointment to be a member of the International Council for Catechetics under the Congregations of Clergy and Doctrine of the Faith (COINCAT).
The Sisters record and release an album of original songs, “God Has a Heart for You.”
In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, MO a new convent is opened at the invitation of then Archbishop Justin Rigali. The Sisters teach catechetical methods in the Paul VI Pontifical Institute and give retreats to various schools and parishes throughout the Archdiocese.
Sister Helen Clare Nagy, one of the first companions of Sister Ida in Hungary, passes to eternal life on December 1.
Blessing of Sacred Heart Monument
Isabel Piczek, liturgical artist and friend of Sister Ida, designs a Monument of the Sacred Heart to be installed at Sister Ida's gravesite.
Description of the monument: The unity of the Holy Trinity depicted by the Hand of God the Father appearing in a triangle, the figure of the Son of God Incarnate, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in the sign of a dove. The humble offering of our hearts and lives to Christ is symbolized by the Sacred Heart badge, the emblem of our Society that our Sisters wear.
February 8, 2004: Blessing of the Sacred Heart Monument by Bishop Gerald Wilkerson at the gravesite of Sister Ida Peterfy in San Fernando Mission Cemetery. Over 400 friends attend.
Sixth General Chapter
Sixth General Chapter: Sister Jane Stafford elected Superior General. Sister Mary Tomasella elected Assistant Superior General.
Proclamation of our Spiritual and Community Life from Chapter: "Listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and recognizing the need for ongoing conversion personally and communally, we more profoundly recommit ourselves to a life lived and spent in union with our God and one another. This union with God is the source from which our apostolic love flows. Therefore, with zealous hearts we rededicate ourselves to the fullest expression of our prayer life as stated in our Constitutions and Statutes. Acknowledging the need to revivify our Community life, we reaffirm our commitment to deepen the bonds with one another as Sisters in Christ, sharing spiritually, supporting each other in all aspects of our lives, embracing with appreciation any correction in a spirit of sincerity, trust and humility."
After Chapter, the entire community travels by bus to St. Louis on our “Journey to the Heartland” Pilgrimage.
Catechist Companion published
In January, nine of our Sisters from convents in California and St. Louis, MO were privileged to participate in the March for Life that took place in Washington, DC to give witness by our presence to the dignity and preciousness of God's gift of life.
In answer to many years of being asked to make Sister Ida's brilliant lessons available, the Catechist Companion, complete lesson plans on Creed, Sacraments, Commandments, and Prayer using the Five Step Illustrated Method is published by Liturgy Training Publications.
The entire Community is gifted with a Pilgrimage to Rome and Holy Land sponsored by generous community friends and benefactors. While in Rome, we had the extraordinary gift to be seated near the Holy Father during the Wednesday audience. When the Holy Father said, "My particular greeting goes to the Sisters of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart," we shouted for joy! The Holy Father responded with a warm smile and wave of welcome.
25th Anniversary of Mission in Taiwan
Sister Arlene Te, MD becomes a licensed practioner and NaPro (Natural Procreative Technology) Educator. She also gives a presentation at the NaPro Technology International Conference in Omaha, Nebraska, about her success in providing treatment for infertility in Taiwan using NaPro Technology.
Celebration of Twenty-fifth Anniversary of our Mission in Taiwan. Six Sisters travel to join our Sisters in Taiwan for the event. The 50th Anniversary of religious vows of Sister Mary Ann and 25th Anniversary of Sister Mary Beth and Sister Anna are also celebrated in Taiwan at this time.
Juniors in the Vineyard
The Junior Professed Sisters travel to a vineyard with Sister Jane and Sister Joanna during a special Junior Class. There they learn more deeply the meaning of the parable of “the Vine and the Branches."
May 6, Sister Annette Chui passes to eternal life. She is the fourth of our Sisters to die.
Seventh General Chapter
Seventh General Chapter: Sister Jane Stafford is re-elected Superior General. Sister Mary Tomasella is elected Assistant Superior General. The theme of our Chapter is taken from our Constitutions: "Our religious community is devoted to the Loving Heart of Our Lord Jesus; His love permeates our life and our apostolate."
Marian Pilgrimage in Year of Faith
The entire Community makes a Marian Pilgrimage traveling to the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock (Ireland), Our Lady of Lourdes, and Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Paris. This was a gift from a generous benefactor in the Year of Faith.
Amar es Entregarse Award
The "Amar es Entregarse" (Bishop Barnes episcopal motto: Love is the total giving of one self) award is given by Bishop Gerald Barnes to the Sisters for their exceptional apostolate in the Diocese of San Bernardino, California. At Sacred Heart Retreat Camp in Big Bear, California the Sacred Heart Sisters conduct spiritual retreats for teenagers, Girls' Camps, and Family Retreat Camps. At the event Bishop Barnes reminded everyone that Sister Ida's legacy of joyful loving service and transformational teaching, that makes known the love of God, lives on in the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart as the Sisters continue her Joyful Apostolate.
Servant of God Sister Ida Peterfy
In the May 15th Issue of the Tidings,
Archbishop José Gomez announced that he had received the petition to begin the cause of Beatification and Canonization for Sister Ida. He published the petition with an invitation to all the faithful "to bring to his attention any useful information which they might have to offer regarding the cause" for Servant of God Sister Ida Peterfy.
75 Years of Grateful Love in the Year of Consecrated Life
On November 7, 2015, joined by more than 1,000 friends and family members, our Society celebrated our grateful love to God for these past 75 years with a Mass and reception at St. John Eudes’ Parish in Chatsworth, CA. All the Sisters renewed their Vows together in the presence of Archbishop José Gomez, their families and friends. The day was filled with joy.
The Charism Continues...
Sister Hermine's 75th Anniversary
We culminate our 75th Anniversary as a Religious Community with a celebration of several Sisters' Jubilees. Sister Hermine Jaschko, Sister Ida's first companion, celebrates 75 years of professed life. Sister Lucia Tu and Sister Bernadette Muller celebrate 50 years and Sister Joanna Strouse celebrates 25 years of Religious Profession.
On May 7, 2016 Sister Judith Fogassy passes to eternal life after a very short battle with cancer. In April she sent this message to catechists in Hungary: "I love you very much! I carry you in my heart as always, and I will carry you in heaven as well...God has another plan, and it is good. I trust in Him. I trust Him in every moment."
25th Anniversary of Mission in Hungary
"Enter His gates with Thanksgiving"
In September a Mass of Thanksgiving was celebrated at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Budapest, the parish which welcomed the Sisters 25 years ago. Presided by the Cardinal Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, concelebrated by bishop friends and many priests the celebration included families, friends and benefactors of the Sisters and parishoners.
Eighth General Chapter
Gathered at the Heart of Jesus Retreat Center in Santa Ana, California, the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart holds their Eighth General Chapter. During our Chapter of Elections, Sister Mary is re-elected as the Superior General and the Council members are elected. The Holy Spirit was very present as we began each day with prayers asking for the Gifts and Fruits of the Spirit, as well as readings from Holy Mother Church and from Servant of God Sister Ida Peterfy, our Foundress.
The History of the Society Devoted to the Sacred Heart
Discover the beauty of a Call from God and the results of responding wholeheartedly.