The Sacred Heart Apostolic School tradition dates back to the foundation of the Legion of Christ in 1941 with an apostolic school in Mexico City.
Since then, 20 such apostolic schools have sprung up all across the world including others in the United States, Canada, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, and Argentina, among others.
Sacred Heart Apostolic School in Rolling Prairie, Indiana opened its doors in the Fall of 2005 at what was the prestigious Le Mans Academy.
Since then, over 100 students have passed through Sacred Heart, 50% of graduates have continued on to the Legion of Christ’s novitiate in Cheshire, Connecticut or to the diocesan seminary.
Articles on the History of Apostolic Schools in the Church
“Perhaps it will be useful to provide some basic statistics. In 1967 there were 122 high school seminaries in the US, with a combined student body of nearly 16,000—surely a remarkable figure! Today seven such seminaries exist, with a combined enrollment of fewer than 600 students; and in fact, a couple of the largest of these schools have essentially ceased to function as minor seminaries properly speaking (more on this later). These figures clearly demonstrate the virtual extinction of the minor seminary, and with it, any significant attempt by the Church to form young men for the priesthood in the most formative years of their life—their adolescence.”
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An apostolic school is a missionary college of the Roman Catholic Church, having for its object to cultivate vocations for foreign missions.
Apostolic schools, as distinct from junior ecclesiastical seminaries, owed their origin to Father Alberic de Foresta, S.J. (b. 1818; d. 1876). He formed the design of opening a school where youths who gave promise of an ecclesiastical vocation, and who were disposed to go and labour on foreign missions, might be properly trained. With the approval of his superiors, Father de Foresta opened the first apostolic school at Avignon in 1865 The course of studies in the apostolic school comprised training in the Latin and Greek classics, in modern languages, and in mathematics. The residence of the scholars was near one of the colleges of the Society of Jesus; the pupils attended classes along with the students of the college. Most Catholic religious orders and congregations established apostolic schools for the recruitment of their own ranks or for the foreign missions: the Vincentians, the Salesians, the Fathers of the Holy Ghost, the Mill Hill Missionaries, the White Fathers, the African Missionaries of Lyon, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Missionaries of Mont-St-Michel, the Dominicans, Franciscans, and Redemptorists.
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With the approval of his superiors, Father de Foresta opened the first apostolic school at Avignon in 1865. The conditions of admission were of two kinds: those which regarded the pupils and those which regarded their parents. As regards the former the conditions were: (a) that the pupil should be at least twelve years of age; (b) possess a sufficient elementary education; (c) have good health; (d) present a certificate of good conduct and piety from his parish priest; (e) have a sincere desire to serve God either as a priest in a missionary country, or as a religious in an order devoted to the foreign missions. As regards parents the conditions were: (a) that they should give their consent to their son’s entering the school and a written agreement not to oppose his vocation nor require his return home during the school vacations; (b) that they should engage to receive the pupil back if the superiors of the school judged it advisable for him to devote himself to a secular calling. The course of studies in the apostolic school comprised a through training in the Latin and Greek classics, in modern languages, and in mathematics, so as to prepare the pupil to take up philosophy in an ecclesiastical seminary or to enter the novitiate of a religious order. The residence of the scholars was near one of the colleges of the Society of Jesus. The pupils attended classes along with the students of the college, and thus had the advantage of emulation and competition with others while living under ecclesiastical discipline in their own house. For the material support of the school Father Foresta depended partly on the voluntary fees paid by the parents of the pupils, according to their means, and partly, or rather chiefly, on the charitable contributions of the faithful, who had come to understand that it is a greater work of piety to educate a priest than to build a church.
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