After starting home enthronement program 50 years ago, John Lo Vasco's apostolate lives on in homes across southeast Michigan
DETROIT — For more than 50 years, the Men of the Sacred Hearts in southeast Michigan have been promoting evangelization through the consecration of homes, businesses and parishes to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
The founder of the group, John Lo Vasco, died in September, and in his name, the group and Lo Vasco’s family developed an endowment through the Catholic Foundation of Michigan to ensure his ministry continues.
The Michigan chapter of the Men of the Sacred Hearts began in 1964, when Lo Vasco traveled to Chicago to learn more about home enthronements from Fr. Francis Larkin, SSCC. Lo Vasco returned to Detroit with an 8-millimeter film projector and materials to start enthroning homes in the Detroit area, according to David Tay, executive director and chairman of the board of the Michigan Men of the Sacred Hearts chapter.
Discouraged by the lack of interest in consecrating homes and businesses in Detroit, Lo Vasco was ready to return the materials when Fr. Larkin suggested Lo Vasco find a 3-foot tall statue of Our Lady of Fatima and offer it to stay in the home for two weeks.
Lo Vasco went to a Catholic book store in Madison Heights and not only found a statue, but learned the store made the statues in its basement.
“That’s divine. That’s providence,” Tay said. “As soon as John started using the statues, people signed up and were interested. He bought another statue and brought on another team, and before you know it, he had a big group enthroning houses, businesses, schools and parishes.”
With 30 teams and 30 statues across the state, the Men of the Sacred Hearts now book enthronements for homes, businesses and schools up to a year in advance.
“We know that when a family sits and prays together, the family gets stronger. They respect and love each other more,” Tay said. “I have seen siblings who couldn’t stand each other become friends after the statue was there for two weeks. You can’t be mad at someone you’re supposed to pray for.”
In addition to the endowment, Tay said the Men of the Sacred Hearts are thinking outside the box to keep Lo Vasco’s mission and the apostolate alive, including partnering with local Knights of Columbus councils and the Chesterton Academy of Detroit, which is slated to open this fall.
The academy partnership started when the Men of the Sacred Hearts went to the home of David and Alejandra Miller, founders of Chesterton Academy, to enthrone their home. The Millers told the men about the school, and the Men of the Sacred Hearts club came to life.
“The most beautiful part of all of this is we were simply having our home enthroned and we — the men and ourselves — felt this was a grace from Our Lady to bring us together,” Alejandra Miller said.
Within the first year of the school opening, the homes of all the students will be enthroned so the students can learn the process. In the second year, the students will, with adult supervision, enthrone homes and schools in the community.
“To see these young men dressed in blazers, wearing the sign of the Sacred Heart and carrying the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, we believe it will make a huge impact on young people,” Miller said.
In addition to enthroning homes, businesses and schools, Lo Vasco also created and distributed election holy cards for people to pray for pro-life candidates, Tay said. Since the 2008 presidential election, more than 1 million holy cards have been distributed across the United States, and Tay continues to receive “two or three calls” a day requesting holy cards. On the day Detroit Catholic spoke with Tay, he and his wife already had sent out a couple hundred cards that morning.
“That’s John Lo Vasco,” Tay said. “What he started had staying power, and he was a visionary. He was a fantastic guy, and if you knew him, you loved him.”
Additional information about the Michigan Chapter of the Men of the Sacred Hearts, including testimonials and how to request an enthronement, can be found on their website.