The Sisters of St. Joseph are a Roman Catholic order of women founded in Le Puy, France. The order has approximately 14,000 members worldwide: about 7,000 in the United States; 2,000 in France; and are active in fifty other countries.
The order was founded in Le Puy by the Jesuit Jean-Pierre Médaille and accepted by the bishop, Mgr. de Maupas, on October 15, 1650. On March 10, 1651, Bishop Henri de Maupas, granted ecclesiastical approval to these women. December 13 1651, the Sisters of St. Joseph presented themselves to the Notary in LePuy, France, for the formal legal foundation.
Only one, a widow, could sign her name and only two brought any kind of financial dowry. They had taken over the administration of the hospital-orphanage in the rue de Montferrand in LePuy and were connected with the work of a Jesuit priest, Jean Pierre Medaille, whom they considered their founder.
In 1789, religious communities were forbidden by the state. The convents and chapels of the community were confiscated in 1793, The sisters were obliged to return home or leave the country to join communities in other countries. The sisters who remained are considered martyrs. Three in Dauphiné and two Haute-Loire died by guillotine because they refused to take the civil oath. Others were imprisoned at St-Didier, dungeon of Feurs, and Clermont.
Mother Saint John Fontbonne was unable to restore her original convent. However, vicar-general, the Rev. Claude Cholleton, invited her to Saint-Etienne to take charge of a little band of religious representing different communities which had been disbanded during the Revolution. In several places the Government approved of the return of the sisters to their long vacant convents, and in some cases Revolutionary proprietors sold back to the sisters the property which had been confiscated.
As word of the sisters' services and good deeds grew, dioceses throughout France requested the services of the order.
In 1812 a colony of sisters was sent to Chambéry, in Savoy France under Mother St. John Marcoux. In 1843 Mother Superior was assumed by Mother Félicité. More than eighty houses rose beneath her hand, and when, in 1861, a state normal school was opened at Rumilly, Savoy, France. it was placed in charge of the sisters. Meanwhile the Chambéry sisters had been constituted a diocesan congregation, but as years went on a stronger administration became necessary.
The rule was therefore revised to meet the requirements of a generalate, and papal approbation was granted in 1874 by rescript of Pius IX. Under the new form of government the congregation is subject to a superior general, whose term of office is six years and is divided into provinces, each possessing a novitiate.
The novices, after two years probation, make annual vows for two years, after which they bind themselves by perpetual vows. The rule is based on that of St. Augustine. In 1902 many French houses of the order were closed by the Government, in consequence of which a large number of sisters left for Denmark, Russia and the United States.
In 1819 a foundation from the mother house in Lyon was established in the Diocese of Belley under the leadership of Mother Saint Joseph Chaney. In 1823 the sisters of the diocese formally separated from Lyon. They became a new independent diocesane congregation under the leadership of Reverend Mother Saint Benoit Cornillon and direction of Bishop Alexander Devie.
Several other foundations spread from France to world wide.
The Sisters aspire to "a profound love of God and the dear neighbor", and love and work so that all may be one.
The Sisters' mission statement: "As Sisters of St. Joseph, our mission is that of the church: to continue the mission of Jesus given Him by His Father. It is our responsibility, both as congregation and as individuals within the church, to share the task of identifying and responding to spiritual and material needs...the expression of these needs varies with the times, cultures, and condition of persons. The congregation sends its member in the name of the church to share in building Christ's kingdom of justice, love, and peace through our charism of unity and reconciliation."
Because of the rapid growth of the institute and the increasing demand for sisters from all parts of the United States, the superiors of the community were by 1860 forced to consider means best adapted to give stability and uniformity to the growing congregation. A general chapter was convoked in May 1860, to which representatives from every house of the congregation in America were called.
At this meeting a plan for uniting all the communities under a general government was discussed and accepted by the sisters and afterwards by many of the bishops in whose dioceses the sisters were engaged. This plan, together with the constitutions, revised so as to meet the requirements of the new condition, was presented to the Holy See for approval. In September 1863, Pope Pius IX issued the letter of commendation of the institute and its works, holding the constitutions for examination and revision by the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars.
The first decree of approbation was granted June 7, 1867, and ten years later, May 16, 1877, a decree approving the institute and constitutions was issued by the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars. On July 31, 1877, Pius IX, by special Brief, confirmed the institute and constitutions of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Thus, with the sanction of the Church came the unification of communities in various dioceses with the mother-house at Carondelet, now in the city of St. Louis.
The congregation in 1910 divided into four provinces: St. Louis, Missouri; St. Paul, Minnesota; Troy, New York; Los Angeles, California. The St. Louis province comprises the houses of the congregation in the Archdioceses of St. Louis and Chicago and the Dioceses of St. Joseph, Kansas, Indianapolis, Peoria, Belleville, Alton, Denver, Marquette, Green Bay, Mobile, and Diocese of Oklahoma. The province of St. Paul includes the Archdiocese of St. Paul and the Diocese of Winona and Fargo.
The congregation was made up of 1802 sisters, in charge of 125 educational institutions, including colleges, academies, conservatories of music and art, and parochial schools, with an attendance of 40,848; 17 charitable educational institutions, including orphan asylums, Indian, Coloured, and deaf-mute schools, with an attendance of 2121; and 10 hospitals, with an average of 8285 patients.
The province of Troy is formed of the houses established in the Dioceses of Albany and Syracuse, New York. The province of Los Angeles comprises the houses of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the Diocese of Tucson and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The superior general and four general councillors, elected every six years by the whole congregation, form the general governing body, assisted by a superior provincial and four provincial councillors in each province. The provincial officers are appointed by the general officers every three years, as also are the local superiors of all the provinces.
In each provincial house, as in the mother-house, a novitiate is established. The term, of postulantship extends from three to Six months, the term of novitiate two years, after which annual vows are taken for a period of five years, when perpetual vows are taken. All are received on the same footing, all enjoy the same privileges, and all are subject to the same obedience which assigns duties according to ability, talent, and aptitude.
Although an interchange of members of the various provinces is allowed and made use of for general or particular needs, the autonomy of each province is safeguarded. The constitutions, while establishing on a solid basis the idea of a general government, allow no small share of local initiative and carefully provide for local needs. In this way too much centralization or peril to establishments working in accordance with local and special exigencies is fully guarded against.
These sisters founded the Carondelet congregation which was not cloistered. The Bishop had been advised to "get the Sisters of St. Joseph because they will do anything." Two convents were established - one in Cahokia, which closed in 1855, the other in Carondelet, a village on the outskirts of St. Louis. The sisters settled in a log cabin in Carondelet near St. Louis, Missouri, and founded a school for deaf students in 1837. In fact, St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf is still open.
Bishop Rosati named Mother Celestine Pommerel superior of the Carondelet community in 1840. In 1847 the first foundation outside St. Louis was made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to be followed shortly by foundations in St. Paul, Minnesota and Toronto, Canada. The sisters came to New York state in 1858, establishing a school in Oswego, New York.
As foundations continued to multiply, the need for centralized government was recognized. At the invitation of Mother St. John Facemaz, successor to Mother Celestine, delegates from the several branches of the Sisters of St. Joseph met in St. Louis in May 1860 to approve a plan of general government. Three provinces were established with headquarters in St. Louis. Missouri, St. Paul, Minnesota and Troy, New York. Mother St. John Facemaz was elected first superior general for a term of six years. (Some communities at this time made the decision to remain under diocesan jurisdiction.)
One of the first concerns of Mother St. John Facemaz was to secure papal approbation for the Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Shortly after her election, Mother St. John went to Rome and presented a copy of the Constitutions for approval. A degree of commendation was received in 1863. Some years later, when Mother Agatha Guthrie was superior general, the final approbation was received, dated May 16, 1877. This approval established the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet as. a congregation of pontifical right.
A fourth province was added in 1876 with provincial headquarters in Tucson, Arizona. In 1903 the provincialate was moved from Tucson to Los Angeles . Subsequently, several small groups appealed to Carondelet for admission into the congregation, including the Sisters St. Joseph of Lewiston, Idaho who became part of the Los Angeles Province in 1925. and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Georgia, who joined the congregation as a separate province in 1922 and became part of the St. Louis Province in 1961. The Sisters of St Joseph of Superior, Wisconsin joined our congregation in 1986, becoming part of the St. Paul Province.
The congregation established foundations in Hawaii in 1938, in Japan in 1956 and in Peru in 1962. These have flourished and have attracted native members.
The Hawaii community became a vice-province in 1956, the Japan and Peru communities in 1978.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet founded Fontbonne University in Clayton, Missouri and Carondelet High School in Concord, California. They also founded the Academy of Our Lady of Peace in San Diego in 1882. St. Joseph's Academy is a private, all-girls high school in St. Louis, Missouri, also founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. St. Joseph Academy, a girls' high school in Green Bay, Wisconsin, operated from 1898 until 1990, when it was merged with two boys' schools.
In 1863 a novitiate was opened at New Orleans. After establishing a central house in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Sisters extended their ministry to the poor and suffering of Louisiana and Mississippi, opening schools, hospitals and an orphanage.
In 1893, Sisters from the New Orleans group went to Cincinnati, Ohio. They created a boarding residence for working girls known as the in Sacred Heart Home. It later became known as the Fontbonne. As they became established, the community established educational institutions. children and young women under their care.
In 1903, sisters from the motherhouse in Bourg were sent to Argyle, Minnesota.
In 1907, the group in Argyle, Minnesota established a convent and school in Crookston, Minnesota In 1907 a convent was established at Superior, Wisconsin by seven sisters from Cincinnati. Schools have since been opened among the French Canadians in Minnesota and Wisconsin
By 1962, the Bourg Congregation had six provinces, three in Europe and three in the United States, with missions in Africa and Latin America.
In July 1977, the six provinces voted to become two separate congregations, one based in Europe, the other in America. On November 30 1977, Rome officially declared the three America provinces to be a new Congregation in the Church: the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Medaille.
The name Medaille was chosen because it is the family name of the Jesuit priest who helped found the Sisters in 1650 and because the Sisters were geographically located in the north, central and southern areas of the United States. Sister Janet Roesener of Cincinnati, Ohio was chosen the first superior general.
In 1986 and in 1994 decisions were made to merge the three provinces into five regions headed by a Congregational Leadership Office consisting of a president and three general councilors, in Cincinnati. The five regions consist of Baton Rouge, Cincinnati, Crookston, New Orleans, and the Twin Cities.
The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Medaille and six other Sisters of Saint Joseph congregations in the central United States announced they will form an entirely new congregation that will be called the Congregation of Saint Joseph. The new congregation will become a reality in April 2007 following completion of the necessary documentation and final approval from Rome.
The seven founding congregations are the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Wichita, Kansas; Cleveland, Ohio; LaGrange, Illinois; Tipton, Indiana; Nazareth, Michigan; Wheeling, West Virginia; and Medaille, with centers in Louisiana, Cincinnati and Minnesota. The new congregation is expected to have a total membership of 891 vowed religious women and 548 non-vowed men and women associates when established in 2007.
Meanwhile the Chambéry sisters had been constituted a diocesan congregation, but as years went on a stronger administration became necessary. The rule was therefore revised to meet the requirements of a generalate, and papal approbation was granted in 1874 by rescript of Pius IX.
Under the new form of government the congregation is subject to a superior general, whose term of office is six years and is divided into provinces, each possessing a novitiate. The novices, after two years probation, make annual vows for two years, after which they bind themselves by perpetual vows. The rule is based on that of St. Augustine.
Jane Sedgwick of Stockbridge, MA appealed to Pope Leo XIII to send assistance in establish a Catholic school in western Massaschusetts. At the request of the Congregation of Propaganda, and with the approval of the Bishop of Springfield, five sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambery arrived in Lee MA in 1885.
The novitiate transferred to Hartford, Connecticut in 1898.
In 1902 many French houses of the order were closed by the Government, in consequence of which a large number of sisters left for Denmark, Russia and the United States
Today the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace has three provinces - Sacred Heart Province (England, Scotland, Ireland), St. Joseph's Province (New Jersey), and Our Lady Province (Oregon, Washington, Alaska). The Congregation offices are in Washington, DC.
Margaret Anna Cusack's emphasis on human rights, especially women's rights, continues to impact the future direction of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. Sisters and lay associates minister in the areas of health care, education, faith communities, social work, counseling, political advocacy, housing for women and children, retreat work and spiritual direction.
In 1883 four Sisters of St. Joseph arrived at Newton, Kansas, from Rochester, New York, and opened their first mission. After remaining there a year they located at Concordia, Kansas, in the fall of 1884, and established the first mother-house in the West, in what was then the Diocese of Leavenworth. The congregation has hospitals and schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Dioceses of Marquette, Rockford, Kansas City, Omaha, Lincoln, and Concordia. The sisters currently so work in Brazil and New Mexico. Diocese of Concordia is now Diocese of Salina Sisters of St. Joseph Concordia KS
As reported in the Times-Picayune, early in July 2006 the structure on Mirabeau Avenue was destroyed by a fire said by witnesses to have been caused by a lightning strike during a Summer thunderstorm.
The Know-Nothing spirit, which had but a short time previously led to the Philadelphia riots, to the burning and desecration of churches and religious institutions, was still rampant, and the sisters had much to suffer from bigotry and difficulties of many kinds. Shortly afterwards they were given charge of several parochial schools, and thus entered on what was to be their chief work in the coming years.
By the establishment, in October, 1858, under the patronage of St. John Neumann, of a mother-house at Mount St. Joseph, Chestnut Hill, the congregation in Philadelphia began to take a more definite development. When, in 1863, the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Louis formed a generalate, approved later by the Holy See, the congregation of Philadelphia, by the wish of the bishop, preserved its autonomy. During the Civil War, detachments of sisters nursed the sick soldiers in Camp Curtin and the Church Hospital, Harrisburg; later, under Surgeon General Smith, they had more active duty in the floating hospitals which received the wounded from the southern battle-fields. When the number of religious increased to between three and four hundred, and the works entrusted to them became so numerous and varied as to necessitate an organization more detailed and definite, steps were undertaken to obtain the papal approbation, which was received in 1895. Sisters of Saint Joseph Philadelphia, PA
The sisters from France adjusted heroically to a different language, culture, and climate with joy and faith. They welcomed new members as they mourned the disproportionate number of those who succumbed to disease and unhealthy conditions. At the direction of Bishop Verot, the sisters were sent to six missions throughout Florida and Georgia. In their endeavors the sisters always tried to meet the needs of the sick and poor. From the outset, however, there were obstacles to fulfilling their primary ministry to black people. And owing to the departure of the Sisters of Mercy from the city, the education of the whites also devolved on the new community. In fact, after ten years, the sisters were teaching many more whites than blacks.
By 1876 the sisters in Georgia had been separated from those in France, but the sisters in Florida were established as a province of LePuy. At the close of the century, provincial government was abruptly terminated by Bishop John Moore. This painful event brought about the establishment of the Diocesan Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of St. Augustine, Florida, in 1899.
To maintain their charitable works and to provide self-support, the sisters erected academies. These institutions served as centers of catechetical work until they were relinquished and replaced by parochial and diocesan schools. Being women of ingenuity, the sisters augmented their resources by such means as lace-making and private lessons in art, music, and language.
The sisters tried to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in their two-fold commitment: discernment of the needs of the times and readiness to answer the call of the Church. During the years of rapid expansion in the developing Church of Florida, and with the support of Archbishop Joseph P. Hurley, the majority of the sisters gave their time to education, which included instruction of students who were deaf, blind, developmentally disabled, or otherwise handicapped. Gradually they became more involved in the multi-faceted aspects of health care; and they assumed work with the aging, unwed mothers, and migrants.
In the turmoil of this enormous growth of the Church, the sisters were pressed into early and heavy responsibility. They met these demands with heroic efforts. For many years the Congregation was called to begin new works only to relinquish them as other religious congregations arrived in the state. Drawn to the constant “more” of Jean-Pierre Medaille, the Congregation opened schools in Puerto Rico in the fifties. Two decades later in 1976, the sisters in Puerto Rico became an independent institute.
Sisters of St. Joseph cherish the heritage of spirit which spans more than three hundred years. They continue to draw their strength from their faith, their hope, and their vision of love.
The house, a small log cabin, which was to be the central or mother-house of the future congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, was located at Carondelet, a small town six miles (10 km) south of St. Louis. At the time the sisters arrived at St. Louis, this humble house was occupied by the Sisters of Charity, who there cared for a few orphans soon after transferred to a new building. While waiting for or their home, they received a call from Cahokia, Illinois, where a zealous Vincentian missionary desired the help of the sisters in his labours among the French and Creole population of that section.
Three religious volunteered for this mission. The people among whom the sisters laboured in St. Louis were poor and rude, and apparently destitute of any taste for either religion or education. These obstacles seemed but to increase the zeal of the sisters, and by degrees postulants were received, parochial schools and asylums opened, and new works begun in various parts of the diocese. As early as 1847 foundations were made in other sections of the United States.
In 1837 the first American member of the order, Ann Eliza Dillon, entered the novitiate, proving of great advantage to the struggling community, with her fluency in French and English. She died, however, four years later. The community increasing in proportion to its more extended field of labour, a commodious building was erected to answer the double purpose of novitiate and academy, the latter being incorporated in 1853 under the laws of the State of Missouri. of St. Joseph of Carondelet of Saint Louis Province
Avila University, Kansas City, Missouri
Fontbonne University, St. Louis, Missouri
St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf, St. Louis, Missouri
Nazareth Living Center
St. Teresa Academy, Kansas City, Missouri
St. Joseph Academy, St. Louis, Missouri
SSJ Health and Wellness Foundation SSJ Charitable Fund Holy Family Child Care & Development A. B. L. E. Families, Inc Ministry Grants Fund St. Joseph Center House of Hospitality Sisters of St. Joseph Auxiliary, Inc. The Sisters of St. Joseph Foundation SSJ Prayer Ministry
The community increased in numbers and soon branched out, doing parochial school work throughout the diocese. In 1892 the name of the Diocese of Leavenworth was changed to Kansas City, Kansas, and for the time being the Sisters of St. Joseph were diocesan sisters of the Diocese of Kansas City.
In 1896, when the redivision of the three Kansas dioceses Concordia, Kansas City, and Wichita, was agitated, Bishop Fink of Kansas City, to keep the Sisters of St. Joseph of his diocese within the limit of his jurisdiction, had their mother-house transferred from Abilene to Parsons. But after the division was made, the following year, Abilene was in the Concordia diocese, and Parsons was in the Wichita diocese, and the mother-house of the Sisters of St. Joseph being in Parsons, the community belonged to the Wichita diocese, having mission-houses in both the Diocese of Concordia and the Diocese of Kansas City.
Since that time the name of the Diocese of Kansas City has been changed to its original name: Diocese of Leavenworth. In 1907 a colony of these sisters opened a sanitarium at Del Norte, Colorado, in the Diocese of Denver. In 1910, the sisters, work in Diocese of Wichita and the Diocese of Leavenworth, and the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri.
In 1852 five sisters from the mother-house at Toronto established a foundation at Hamilton, where they at once opened an orphanage and began their work in the parochial schools of the city. On the erection of the Diocese of Hamilton in 1856, the community became a separate diocesan congregation, and a few months later a novitiate was established at Hamilton. By the passage of the Separate Schools Bill in 1856 the sisters were given control of the education of the Catholic children of the city. The congregation gradually extended its activities to other parts of the diocese. Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto Hamilton, Ontario
The community of Sisters of St. Joseph at London was founded in 1868 by five sisters from the mother-house at Toronto, who opened an orphan asylum the following year. On 18 December, 1870, the congregation became independent, with a novitiate of its own, and on 15 February, 1871, the Sisters of St. Joseph of London, Ontario, were legally incorporated. Several missions were opened in various parts of the diocese, and in 1888 a hospital was established at London, to which was attached a training school for nurses. Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto London, Ontario
In 1890 several sisters from the mother-house at Toronto established a house at Peterborough, which became in turn the nucleus of a new congregation. They work in the Dioceses of Peterborough and Sault Ste-Marie. Sisters of St. Joseph of Peterborough
In 1921, in response to a request from Bishop Ryan for teachers to staff the rural areas of the Ottawa Valley schools. In 1946, they opened their first hospitals and Homes for the Aged in western Canada. By 1964, they were able to establish a mission in Peru which is still operating today with a growing community of Peruvian Sisters. Sisters of St. Joseph of Pembroke, Ontario
Sault Ste. Marie
Canadian Sisters of St. Joseph - Sault-Ste-Marie Sault Ste. Marie
The mother-house of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Toronto was established from Le Puy, France, in 1851. The mother house is at Morrow Park in north Toronto. The sisters taught in many schools across Canada since their establishment in the country. In Toronto, some of their schools included: St. Joseph's Morrow Park, St. Joseph's College School, St. Joseph's Islington, and St. Joseph's Commercial. They also established St. Michael's Hospital and St. Joseph's Hospital, and for many years ran the Sacred Heart Orphanage and the House of Providence for poor persons, among many other charities. In higher education, the sisters established St. Joseph's College in the University of St. Michael's College.
In 1867, the Australian Mary MacKillop set up an order named the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, with Rev. Julian Tenison Woods. Although Mary MacKillop was the first, and to date, the only Australian to be beatified, her order (the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart) is in no way related to the SIsters of St. Joseph founded by Jean-Pierre Médaille in Le Puy, France in 1650.