March 24 Mass to mark beatification of foundress

Friday, March 08, 2019 - Updated: 12:24 pm

Greensburg Bishop Edward Malesic will commemorate the beatification of Blessed Clelia Merloni, foundress of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, at a Mass Sunday, March 24, at 11:30 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Greensburg.

The Mass is open to the public, and following the liturgy a relic of Blessed Clelia may be venerated. Thousands of faithful gathered in Rome in November to celebrate the beatification of Mother Clelia at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.

Blessed Clelia offered an example of one who suffered from false accusations, misunderstandings and even exile from her sisters, yet she responded with humility, forgiveness and charity. Her deep understanding of God’s love for her enabled her to unite herself with Christ and respond to slander with kindness, to vindictiveness with forgiveness and to painful false accusations with non-retaliation. Her virtue has been described as nothing short of heroic.

Clelia Merloni was born in Italy on March 10, 1861. She came from a wealthy family and was attracted to prayer and solitude at an early age. She responded generously to God’s call by choosing consecrated religious life.

In 1894, Mother Clelia founded the Congregation of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, whose U. S. provincialate is located in Hamden, Connecticut. More than 1,000 sisters now serves in 15 countries: Italy, Brazil, the United States, Switzerland, Argentina, Chile, Albania, Mozambique, Uruguay, Paraguay, Benin, the Philippines, Haiti, Ireland and Portugal.

The congregation’s presence in the United States dates from 1902, when six Apostles journeyed from Italy to Boston to serve Italian immigrants. The Apostles left Boston and arrived in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1906.

In Pennsylvania, the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus have a rich history dating back to 1921 when the Apostles arrived in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and opened St. Anthony Village in Oakmont. In 1953, the sisters opened a school for exceptional children — St. Anthony School in Oakmont. The sisters lovingly ministered to the special-needs children there until 1970 and at other schools in the Pittsburgh diocese.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints has decreed that Blessed Clelia’s feast day will be Nov. 20, which is the eve of the anniversary of her death, Nov. 21, 1930.

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