The Sacred Heart Messenger first appeared on 6 January, 1888. It has been in print continuously ever since, becoming staple reading in Irish homes that has endured for generations. Writers such as Edna O’Brien and Sean O’Casey have referred to it in literature, which plays testament to the place it holds in Irish culture and heritage. Many well-known Irish writers have contributed to The Messenger, including former President Mary McAleese, Bishop Brendan Leahy, theologians Fr Michael Paul Gallagher SJ, Fr Jim Corkery SJ, and Fr Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, and educationalist and psychologist Fr Paul Andrews SJ (approaching his 300th article). Cookery and gardening experts Marie McGuirk and Helen Dillon also contribute to the variety of the content. A large number of regulars also contribute on their particular topics. I am pleased to continue the good work of former editors, all the time also being aware of the crucial role played by our promoters in all parts of Ireland and abroad.
The Messenger has its own in-house book publishing facilities, and publishes titles by authors such as Jesuits Fr Tom Morrissey SJ, Fr Brian O’Leary SJ, Fr Brian Grogan SJ, Fr Finbarr Lynch SJ, and Fr Donal Neary SJ. A series of books selling under €5 make good religious publishing accessible in a less expensive format; already published are Surviving Suicide Bereavement by Brendan McManus SJ, and Being There in Times of Illness and : Some Comfort on the Journey through grief, by Margaret Naughton, both move whom also write in the magazine. Welcoming the Migrant to Ireland by Fr Allan Hilliard, and Into Elder Years by Sr Mary Threadgold RSC are planned. Our staff manages the entire print process from the manuscript to design to the published product.
In the first year of its life, promoters of The Messenger carried copies to 9,000 homes throughout Ireland. Back then, The Messenger cost all of one penny per copy, or one shilling for the year. Today, we distribute to over 60,000 readers each month in various parts of the world. With an accepted average of about 2 readers per copy, we probably reach over 100,000 readers per month. Along with the content of the magazine, the ways in which we reach our readers have moved with the times, and today The Messenger is also available online. Throughout its evolution, the magazine has retained its core message: that God loves his people. The devotion to the Sacred Heart highlighted this truth for years, and we do our best to continue to make Jesus Christ known and loved through our pages. We also strive to communicate an up-to-date and forward-looking approach to the Church, particularly in the parish and school.
We receive about 100 letters a day of thanks for favours received and prayers for intentions. We remember all our letter-writers in prayer. We receive also many donations for the spread of devotion to the Heart of Jesus and for Messenger charities. We have recently made some of these donations available to build a secondary school with the Jesuits in Assam, North-East India, and to help begin third level education in Assam.
You too can join in this effort, to make God’s love in Jesus Christ known, by becoming a promoter or subscribing to The Messenger.
With many thanks and our prayers.
Donal Neary SJ, Editor.