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Sisters of St. Joseph

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Sisters of St. Joseph

Our Lady of Victory Chapel, St. Catherine's University, St. Paul, MN
An old convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Ste. Geneviève, Missouri.

The Sisters of St. Joseph, also known as the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph and abbreviated C.S.J., is a Roman Catholic religious congregation of women founded in Le Puy-en-Velay, France in 1650. This Congregation 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 Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph began in 1650, with six women meeting in a small kitchen in Le Puy, France, motivated by a common desire to serve God and the poor in their community. These women, with the spiritual direction of a Jesuit priest, Jean-Pierre Medaille, formed the first community of the Sisters of St. Joseph.[1] (Some early accounts attribute the founding of the order to Father Medaille's younger brother, Jean-Paul Medaille S.J..)

Fr. Medaille envisioned a new kind of religious community in which a group of women who would profess simple vows, live in small groups, work to support themselves, and who would live and dress simply but in a manner appropriate to their circumstances.[2] The original six sisters were Anna Brun, an orphan; Marguerite Burdier; war widow, Claudia Chastel; Anna Chraleyer; Anna Vey, age 15; and Francoise Eyraud, a hospital administrator, served as superior of the new community for 30 years. All the women made ribbon and lace that gave them some income to support themselves. In turn they taught others to make lace and ribbon.[2]

The new Congregation enjoyed rapid growth, expanding into eighteen houses during the first decade. By the time of the French Revolution, almost 150 years later, the Sisters had spread to twelve dioceses in the southeast corner of France. The Congregation of Saint Joseph was disbanded during the French Revolution.[1] In 1789, religious communities were forbidden by the state. The convents and chapels of the community were confiscated in 1793. The Sisters were forced to choose between returning to their families or leaving France to join communities in other countries. Some Sisters who remained became martyrs. Three in Dauphiné and two in Haute-Loire were sent to the guillotine because they refused to take the Civil Oath. Others were imprisoned at St-Didier, Feurs and Clermont.

Post-Revolutionary France

Mother Saint John Fontbonne was unable to restore her original convent. However, the Vicar General, the Abbé Claude Cholleton, invited her to Saint-Étienne 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. The congregation was re-established in 1807 by Mother St. John Fontbonne (Jeanne Fontbonne) in Lyon, France.[3] As word of the Sisters' services and good deeds grew, dioceses throughout France requested the services of the restored Congregation. In 1902 many French houses of the congregation 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 motherhouse in Lyon was established in the Diocese of Belley under the leadership of Mother Saint Joseph Chaney. In 1823 the Sisters of that diocese formally separated from community in Lyon. They became a new and independent diocesan congregation under the leadership of Reverend Mother Saint Benoit Cornillon and the authority of Bishop Alexander Devie. Several other foundations spread from France throughout the world.

Today, the Sisters operate many Catholic schools and hospitals in France, United States, Canada, Japan and England. In India they operate hospitals, homes, and orphanages.

Mission statement

Inspired by the profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction which characterized the women who began the Catholic order 350 years ago, the Sisters of St. Joseph, strive to serve all realms of human life, with a special care for the poor.[4]

United States

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet


Through her work with the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Countess Felicite’ Duras, became aware of a Countess, a letter from Bishop Joseph Rosati, the first Bishop of St. Louis, Missouri asking for sisters who would undertake instruction of deaf-mute children. She had a great admiration for Mother St. John Fontbonne and asked her to send the sisters to America, offering to defray the expense of establishing a community of Sisters of St. Joseph in the Diocese of St. Louis. The bishop accepted six sisters to instruct the children, and in addition, two others to teach the deaf.[5]

On 17 January 1836 the first six sisters set sail from LeHavre, France on the ship, the Natchez. arriving in New Orleans March 5 after seven weeks at sea. Bishop Rosati had arranged for them to stay with the Ursuline Sisters and met with them the next day. (And he planned to travel north with them to St. Louis.) The sisters enjoyed the hospitality of the Ursulines for two weeks, learning much about life in America. The sisters also told them to disguise their religious habit when going abroad and while traveling to St. Louis.[5]

The sisters boarded the steamer, the George Collier, traveled up the Mississippi and reached their St. Louis on 25 March 1836. Through Holy Week the sisters resided with the Daughters of Charity who had a hospital near the Cathedral. On April 7, three of the sisters, accompanied by Bishop Rosati and Father Fontbonne, travelled by boat for Cahokia, where they opened a school.[6] On September 12, the remaining sisters settled in a log cabin in the village of Carondelet, about five miles south of the city of St. Louis. From Carondelet many institutions had their start and continue their good works to the present day. St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf, St. Joseph’s Academy, Fontbonne College, now Fontbonne University, all began in the convent at Carondelet.[5]

In 1847 the first foundation outside St. Louis was made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, followed shortly by foundations in Toronto, Canada (1851); Hamilton, Ontario (1852); Wheeling, West Virginia (1853); Canandaigua, New York (1854); Flushing (Brentwood), New York (1856); Rochester; and Buffalo, New York. In 1851 Bishop Joseph Cretin goes to Carondelet to ask Mother Celestine to send the Sisters of St. Joseph to his new diocese in St. Paul, Minnesota; where four sisters arrive by steamboat on 3 November. In 1853 Bishop McCloskey suggests Mother St. John Facemaz send sisters to Cohoes, New York. On April 15, 1858, one German, one Irish, and two native-born sisters arrive by train in Oswego, New York in the midst of a snowstorm to establish a school for Catholic immigrants.[6] In 1869 the Flushing community sent three pioneer sisters to Ebensburg, Pennsylvania.[4]

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. Mother St. John Facemaz was elected first superior general for a term of six years. Shortly after her election, Mother St. John went to Rome and presented a copy of the Constitutions for approval. In September 1863, Pope Pius IX issued a degree of commendation. Final approbation was received, dated May 16, 1877. This approval established the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet as a congregation of pontifical right, and the unification of communities in various dioceses with the mother-house at Carondelet, (now in St. Louis, Missouri).

During the Civil War the order sent nuns to serve as Army nurses. However, the head of Army nurses Dorothea Dix distrusted them; her anti-Catholicism undermined her ability to work with Irish and German sisters, whom she ridiculed as robotic and unfeeling.[7]


The congregation in 1910 divided into four provinces:

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Saint Louis, Missouri

The St. Louis, Missouri Province comprises the houses of the congregation in the Archdioceses of St. Louis and Chicago and the Dioceses of St. Joseph, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Peoria, Belleville, Alton, Denver, Marquette, Green Bay, Mobile, and Diocese of Oklahoma. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Georgia joined as a separate province in 1922 and became part of the St. Louis Province in 1961.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet St. Louis sponsor Saint Joseph Institute for the Deaf, St. Louis, Missouri;[8] Saint Joseph's Academy, St. Louis, Missouri;[9] Saint Teresa Academy, Kansas City, Missouri;[10]Avila University, Kansas City, Missouri; Fontbonne University, St. Louis, Missouri; and Ascension Health[11]

Derham Hall, St. Catherine University, St.Paul, MN
Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet of St. Paul

The St. Paul, Minnesota Province includes the Archdiocese of St. Paul and the dioceses of Winona and Fargo. The Sisters of St Joseph of Superior, Wisconsin joined the congregation in 1986, becoming part of the St. Paul Province. The St. Paul Province sponsors Cretin-Derham Hall High School, St. Paul, Minnesota[12] and St. Catherine University.[13] Derham Hall, an administrative building at St. Catherine's is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Albany Province
  • The Albany Province (formerly Troy, New York) is formed of the houses established in the Dioceses of Albany and Syracuse, New York. The Albany Province of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet founded and sponsor the College of St. Rose, Albany, New York, named in honor of St. Rose of Lima, the first canonized saint in the Americas.
  • Los Angeles, California (formerly Tucson, Arizona): comprises the houses of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the Diocese of Tucson and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The Sisters St. Joseph of Lewiston, Idaho, who became part of the Los Angeles Province in 1925.
  • The congregation established foundations in Hawaii in 1938, in Japan in 1956 and in Peru in 1962. These have flourished and attracted native-born 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 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 (St. Louis, Missouri) 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. The Sisters are known for their work in education and health care, and their activism in opposing the death penalty.


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 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.

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet – Los Angeles Province
  • Carondelet High School Concord, CA
  • A Friendly Place – Oakland CA
  • Mount Saint Mary's College, Brentwood, Los Angeles, California
  • Jubilee West – West Oakland CA
  • Concord House – Concord, CA
  • Bay Area Crisis Center – Concord CA
  • St. Mary's Academy – Inglewood, CA
  • St. Joseph Center - Venice, CA
  • Academy of Our Lady of Peace – San Diego, CA
  • St. Elizabeth of Hungary Clinic – Tucson, AZ
  • Villa Maria Care Center – Tucson, AZ
  • Carondelet Health Network – Tucson, AZ[14]
  • St. Mary's Hospital – Tucson, AZ[15]
  • St. Joseph Hospital and Health Center – Tucson, AZ[16]
  • Holy Cross Hospital and Health Center – Nogales, AZ[17]
  • Carondelet Hospice - Tucson, AZ
  • St. Joseph Hospital Regional Medical Center - Lewiston, Idaho
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Health Care Center - Pasco, WA

Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambery

In 1812 a colony of Sisters was sent to Chambéry, in Savoy, France[18] under Mother St. John Marcoux. In 1843 Mother Félicité became Mother Superior. More than eighty houses rose under her direction, 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.

Jane Sedgwick of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, desired to establish a Catholic school in Lee, Massachusetts. Since there weren't enough sisters in the United States to aid in the running of the school, Jane eventually went to Rome to appeal to Pope Leo XIII to send help. In 1885, five sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambéry arrived in Lee to open the school.[18] The novitiate was transferred to Hartford, Connecticut in 1898. The foundation spread into Connecticut and eventually into other parts of the United States.

Congregation of Saint Joseph

In 1854 Sisters were sent from the Bourg house in France to establish a house at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, in the Diocese of Natchez.

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 Sacred Heart Home. It later became known as Fontbonne Home. As they became established, the congregation established educational institutions for 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 American provinces to be a new Congregation in the Church: the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Medaille.[19][20]

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, Minnesota, New Orleans, and the Twin Cities.

In 2007, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Medaille and six other Sisters of Saint Joseph congregations in the central United States merged to form an entirely the new Congregation, which is now called the Congregation of Saint Joseph.

The seven founding congregations were the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago/Lagrange, Illinois; Detroit/Nazareth, Michigan; Fort Wayne/Tipton, Indiana; Wheeling, West Virginia; Wichita, Kansas and Medaille, with centers in Louisiana, Cincinnati and Minnesota. The Congregation had a total membership of some 900 vowed religious women and 548 non-vowed men and women associates when established in 2007. The Sisters number about 700 as of 2011.[21]

The founding formerly diocesan congregations

Chicago/La Grange

The Sisters of St. Joseph were established in La Grange, Illinois, October 9, 1899, by two Sisters under Mother Stanislaus Leary, formerly superior of the diocesan community at Rochester, New York. On July 14, 1900, the cornerstone of the mother-house was laid. Currently the sisters sponsor Nazareth Academy, a Catholic co-educational high school in La Grange Park, Illinois. The school's four core values include Scholarship, Service, Spirit, and Unity. Sisters of Joseph of LaGrange


The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Diocese of Cleveland are chiefly engaged in the parochial schools. Sisters of Saint Joseph, Cleveland

Currently supporting

  • St. Joseph Academy - Cleveland, OH
  • River's Edge, A Place for Reflection and Action
  • Women's Outreach Center
  • Seeds of Literacy
  • WellSpring Bookstore
  • CSJ Prayer Line

Initiated :

  • Providence House
  • Fontbonne House
  • West Side Catholic Center
  • West Side Catholic Shelter
  • Transitional Housing, Inc.
  • East Side Catholic Shelter

In 1889 Sisters of St. Joseph from the Diocese of Ogdensburg, New York established a new congregation at Kalamazoo, Michigan. The novitiate was transferred, in 1897, to Nazareth, a hamlet founded by the Sisters on a 400-acre (1.6 km2) farm. Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth Michigan

Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth Michigan

Initiated institutions
  • Nazareth College
  • Nazareth Academy
  • Barbour Hall
Fort Wayne

The Sisters of St. Joseph have a motherhouse at Tipton, Indiana.


In 1853 seven sisters from Carondelet, Missouri, opened a private orphanage and hospital in Wheeling, and in 1856 took possession of a building chartered by the Assembly of Virginia for a hospital. From 19 October 1860, the community was independent of the St. Louis mother-house. During the Civil War the hospital was rented by the Government and the sisters enrolled in government service. After the war and the reorganization of the hospital on its present lines, the sisters extended their activities to various parts of the diocese Sisters of St. Joseph of Wheeling

The motherhouse was included in the Mount Saint Joseph listing on the National Register of Historic Places, added in 2008.[23][24]

  • 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
  • [1]House of Hospitality
  • Sisters of St. Joseph Auxiliary, Inc.
  • The Sisters of St. Joseph Foundation
  • SSJ Prayer Ministry

In August 1887, four Sisters of St. Joseph were commissioned to go from Concordia, Kansas, to open a parochial school at Abilene, Kansas, at that time in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Leavenworth. The following year the Right Rev. L. M. Pink, Bishop of Leavenworth, decided that these Sisters should belong to his diocese exclusively, and in so doing they became the nucleus of a new diocesan congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, having their motherhouse established at Abilene, under the title of Mount St. Joseph's Academy.

The congregation 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 re-division of the three Kansas dioceses, Concordia, Kansas City, and Wichita, was begun, Bishop Fink of Kansas City, to keep the Sisters of St. Joseph of his diocese within the limit of his jurisdiction, had their motherhouse 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 congregation belonged to the Wichita Diocese, having mission-houses in both the Diocese of Concordia and the Diocese of Kansas City.

In 1907 a colony of these Sisters opened a sanitarium at Del Norte, Colorado, in the Diocese of Denver. In 1910, the Sisters worked in the Diocese of Wichita and the Diocese of Leavenworth, and the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Missouri.

Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace (C.S.J.P.) were founded in 1884 by Margaret Anna Cusack (also known as Mother M. Francis Clare) to further the work of peace in the family, church and world. Under Cardinal Manning and Bishop Edward Gilpin Bagshawe, Cusack received approbation for the new religious congregation from Pope Leo XIII and the Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace was founded in January 1884, in the Diocese of Nottingham, England. This Congregation does not share any history or charism with the other Sisters of St. Joseph.

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's central offices are in Washington, D.C. The Sisters also have communities in El Salvador and Haiti.

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.[25]

Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange is among the youngest of the American congregations and traces its roots through the St. Joseph congregations of La Grange, Illinois; Concordia, Kansas; Rochester, New York; and Carondelet, Missouri.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange were established in 1912 by Mother Bernard Gosselin. She and eight sisters left LaGrange, Illinois, near Chicago to establish what is now St. Bernard's High School in Eureka, California. As the Congregation grew, the Sisters were better able to address more of the needs of the area. The 1918 flu pandemic presented a new challenge to the community. The Sisters responded as best they could at the time, but they realized that by establishing a hospital they could provide a health care service which would effectively address the personal, social and spiritual needs of the area. In 1920, the Sisters opened St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka. Today the hospital is by far the largest medical facility on Coastal California north of its even larger medical facility located in Santa Rosa, California, as well as others in Southern California.

By 1922, the Sisters were teaching in several Southern California areas and recognized that the community could better develop its ministries by moving the Motherhouse to Orange. The first ministries of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange were in education and health care. Schools and hospitals were staffed primarily by the Sisters and in the 1940s and 1950s the number of institutions directed by the Congregation increased steadily. In the 1940s the Sisters extended their work in health, education and religious instruction to the people of Papua New Guinea and Australia.

Today, the Congregation’s commitment to education is expressed in a variety of forms including elementary, secondary, university and other adult education. The commitment to extend the healing mission of Christ is expressed through acute care hospitals, rehabilitation programs, home health care, community education, primary care clinics, and wellness programs. The works of the Congregation have expanded, however, beyond education and health care to also include such things as helping new immigrants, feeding the hungry, giving shelter to the homeless, and fostering spiritual development.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange are one of three sponsoring religious communities of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. They also have a special partnership with the Western American Province of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary dating back to the 1968 signing of the Marymount Accords when St. Joseph's College of Orange merged with Marymount College of Los Angeles and assumed the Marymount name. Five years later, Marymount College merged with Loyola University of Los Angeles as the school assumed its current name, Loyola Marymount University.

Independent diocesan congregations


In 1873 the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston opened their first school at Jamaica Plain, in the Archdiocese of Boston, and three years later established there a novitiate, which was transferred successively to Cambridge (1885), Brighton, and Canton (1902). The mother-house is still at Brighton. Sisters of Saint Joseph, Boston, MA

  • Bethany Health Care Center – Framingham, MA
  • Bethany Hill School – Framingham, MA
  • Fontbonne Academy – Milton, MA
  • Jackson School – Newton, MA
  • Literacy Connection – Brighton, MA
  • Merrimack Valley Montessori School – Haverhill, MA
  • Mount Saint Joseph Academy – Brighton, MA
  • Regis College – Weston, MA
  • Walnut Park Montessori School – Newton, MA
  • Casserly House – Roslindale, MA
  • Saint Joseph Retreat Center – Cohasset, MA


In the spring of 1856 the Right Rev. John Loughlin, first Bishop of Brooklyn, applied to the mother-house at Philadelphia for sisters, and two religious were named for the new mission, joined during the same year by a sister from Buffalo. St. Mary's Academy, Williamsburg, was opened on September 8, 1856, and in the following year a parochial school was inaugurated. In 1860 the mother-house, novitiate, and boarding school were removed to Flushing, Long Island, whence the activity of the sisters was gradually extended over the diocese. In 1903 the mother-house and novitiate were again transferred to Brentwood, New York, where an academy was opened the same year.


The Sisters of St. Joseph were introduced into the Diocese of Buffalo in 1854, when three sisters from Carondelet, St. Louis, made a foundation at Canandaigua, New York. Two years later one of these sisters was brought to Buffalo by Bishop Timon to assume charge of Le Couteulx St. Mary's Institution for the instruction of deaf mutes, which had lately been established. The novitiate was removed from Canandaigua to Buffalo in 1861. The community developed rapidly and soon spread through different parts of the diocese. By 1868 the sisters were sufficiently strong to direct their own affairs, and elected their own superior, thus forming a new diocesan congregation. In 1891 the mother-house and novitiate were removed to the outskirts of the city, where an academy was erected. On July 19, 1933, the sisters visited the small hamlet of Appleton, NY with Mr. Callahan of M&T Bank. He was interested in showing Mother Constansia Superior a piece of property that could become their new summer retreat. They came across home built from red brick imported from Italy. The floor was made from wide board pine planks that at the time were popular and expensive. The woodwork, doors, and staircase were all made from black walnut. There was a then 90-year-old log cabin right along Lake Ontario, and carrying such resemblance to the first American home of the Sists of St Joseph in St Louis was promptly named "Carondelet". The old farm house was perfect, and so their new summer retreat was established in Appleton.

  • Sisters of Saint Joseph, Buffalo, NY

Burlington, Vermont

In 1873 the Rev. Charles Boylan of Rutland (town), Vermont petitioned the mother-house of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Flushing, Long Island, for sisters to take charge of his school. Several sisters were sent, and a novitiate was opened at Rutland on October 15, 1876.


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 motherhouse 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

Erie, Pennsylvania

This congregation was founded in 1860 by Mother Agnes Spencer of Carondelet, Missouri, who, with two other sisters, took charge of St. Ann's Academy at Corsica, Pennsylvania, where postulants were admitted. In 1864 a hospital was opened at Meadville, and the sisters took charge of the parochial schools of that city. Villa Maria Academy was opened in 1892 and in 1897 was made the novitiate and mother house of the Sisters of St. Joseph in the Erie diocese.[27]

  • Villa Maria Elementary School
  • Villa Maria Academy
  • Erie Dawn
  • Bethany House Ministry
  • The Heritage Apartments
  • Saint Vincent Health Center
  • Saint Mary's Home of Erie
  • SSJ Neighborhood Network
  • Reflexology
  • Rural Ministry
  • St. Patrick Haven
  • St. James Haven
  • Spiritual Christian Meditation
  • Prayer Call
  • Faithkeepers Trail
  • Justice & Peace

Fall River

In 1902 nine Sisters of St. Joseph from the mother-house at Le Puy took charge of the school in the French parish of St-Roch, Fall River, Massachusetts. The accession of other members from the mother-house enabled the community to take charge of three other schools in the city attached to French parishes. In 1906 St. Theresa's Convent was formally opened as the provincial house of the community, which was legally incorporated in the same year, and a novitiate was established.

New Orleans

The Sisters of St. Joseph has a mother-house on Mirabeau Avenue in New Orleans. The compound was flooded during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and is now up for sale as they cannot afford to have it repaired. Letters have been sent to the Pope pleading for help, but no one has received a response.

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.


In 1880 several sisters from the mother-house at Buffalo made a foundation at Watertown, New York, which was later strengthened by the accession of another sister from the Erie mother-house. From Watertown as a centre missions were opened in other parts of the diocese.[28]


In 1847 the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, in response to an appeal of Bishop Kenrick, sent four members of the community to Philadelphia to take charge of St. John's Orphan Asylum, until that time under the Sisters of Charity.

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 [29]

For two thirds of the 1900s, the group was a powerhouse in the Philadelphia area supplying teachers to hundreds of elementary and secondary schools, educating generations of children and young adults. The trademark white triangle that was worn as part of the sisters' veil was present until 1974. The changes in life style and ministry that were common in Catholic religious institutes of women in the late 1960s took a little longer to catch up with this group who held on to convent living in traditional parish settings as well as a modified habit and veil up to the mid-1980s.

From a membership high of close to 2,500 is the mid-sixties, the current 2010 membership is under 1,000 with most of the membership in full or partial retirement.

Charlotte Rigali, sister of former Philadelphia Archbishop Justin Cardinal Rigali, is a member of the St. Louis branch of the Sisters of St. Joseph.


In 1869, at the petition of the pastor of Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, three sisters were sent there to open a day-school and a boarding-school for boys. [4] In 1901 the mother-house was transferred to Baden, Pennsylvania. Sisters of Saint Joseph Baden PA

Sisters of Saint Joseph of Baden

  • Mount Gallitzin Academy
  • Villa St Joseph[34]

Rochester, New York

In 1854 four Sisters of St. Joseph came from St. Louis, at the invitation of Bishop Timon of Buffalo, to Canandaigua, NY. In 1868, the Diocese of Rochester was created, and the community divided creating 2 communities, one in Buffalo and the other in Rochester, now with its own mother-house and novitiate at St. Mary's Boys' Orphan Asylum, later transferred to the Nazareth Academy, Rochester. Sisters of Saint Joseph Rochester

  • Nazareth Schools
  • St. Joseph's Neighborhood Center
  • Daystar
  • Morningstar
  • St. Martin's Place
  • Sisters of Saint Joseph Volunteer Corps
  • Sisters Care
  • St. Joseph's Northside Outreach
  • Prayer Ministry

St. Augustine, Florida

At the close of the American Civil War, the most Reverend Augustin Verot, Bishop of Savannah and Administrator Apostolic of Florida, visited his native city of LePuy where he challenged the Sisters of St. Joseph to come to St. Augustine. In blunt and realistic fashion he wrote: "I have five to six hundred thousand blacks without education, without religion, and without baptism for whom I wish to do something. ... There is an immense field open to the zeal of our holy daughters, and if I do not mistake it, the good God is giving you a great grace by this choice ..."

With the humble courage of their patron, Saint Joseph, many sisters volunteered. The chosen eight were Sister Marie Sidonie Rascle, Superior: and Sisters Marie Julie Roussel, Marie Josephine Deleage, Marie Clemence Freycenon, St. Pierre Borie, Marie Joseph Cortial, Julie Clotilde Arsac, and Marie Celenie Joubert. Expecting to encounter the reality of deprivations, these brave women ventured forth on a perilous journey wholly dependent on God. Existing correspondence reveals their eagerness to embrace any sacrifice for the love of Jesus, who endured much more for them. They arrived in Florida at Picolata Landing on the shores of the St. Johns River, September 2, 1866.

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.[35]

St. Louis

In the year 1834 Most Rev. Joseph Rosati of St. Louis, Missouri, called at the mother-house of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Lyon and asked Mother St. John Fontbonne, the superior, to send a colony of her daughters to America. The financial aid necessary was obtained through the Countess de a Roche Jacquelin. Arrangements were soon perfected, and on 17 January 1836, six sisters sailed from Havre and, after a perilous voyage of forty-nine days, reached New Orleans, where they were met by the Bishop of St. Louis and Rev. Timon, afterwards Bishop of Buffalo. They arrived at St. Louis on 25 March.

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 institute, 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

  • Ascension Health
  • 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's Academy, St. Louis, Missouri


The Sisters of St. Joseph were established at Savannah in 1867, in charge of the boys' orphanage, and soon afterwards were constituted an independent diocesan congregation. In 1876 the orphanage was transferred to Washington, Georgia, and with it the mother-house of the congregation. In 1912 the Sisters opened an academy for women in Augusta which became Mount Saint Joseph and eventually moved the mother house to Augusta Georgia. In 1922 the Sisters voted to incorporate themselves into the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet becoming the Augusta Province and no longer a diocesan congregation.


In September 1880, seven Sisters of St. Joseph were sent from Flushing, Long Island, to take charge of a parochial school at Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. They were followed, two years later, by seven Sisters for Webster, and in 1883 by twelve more for the cathedral parish school in Springfield. In 1885 the Springfield mission was constituted the motherhouse of an independent diocesan congregation. Sisters of St. Joseph Springfield

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  • Mont Marie Health Care Center, Inc
  • Mont Marie Senior Residence
  • SEED (Sharing in Earth’s Ecological Design)
  • Mont Marie Labyrinth
  • Prayer Line



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.[36]


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.[37]


In 1890 several sisters from the mother-house at Toronto established a house at Lipgloss and Lolipops, which became in turn the nucleus of a new congregation. They work in the Dioceses of Peterborough and Sault Ste-Marie.[38]


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.[39]

  • Stillpoint House of Prayer

Sault Ste. Marie

  • Canadian Sisters of St. Joseph - Sault-Ste-Marie


The motherhouse 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 Catholic Secondary School, 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.

  • Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto


In 1867, the Australian Mary MacKillop set up an institute named the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart, with Rev. Julian Tenison Woods. Although Mary MacKillop (St Mary of the Cross) was the first, and to date, the only Australian to be canonised, her religious institute (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. However, Julian Tenison Woods had visited the Sisters in Le Puy earlier in his life. It is believed that those Sisters inspired the concept that he had with St Mary of the Cross [Mary MacKillop] to create an Australian group of women dedicated to God within Australian conditions.

The Sisters started by the Rev Fr Julian Tenison Woods and Mary MacKillop split into two and are found throughout Australia and New Zealand (for the latter see: Sisters of St Joseph of Nazareth). The Federation of Sisters of St Joseph, once known as the black Sisters of St Joseph are those sisters who chose to remain true to the Bishop of their area rather than join Mary and The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart of Jesus with their rather "unknown" style of leadership called central government; that is where the Superior Sister had the main control over her sisters. Mary MacKillop's sisters donned a brown habit and where thus known as the Brown Josephites.

All the Congregations of Sisters of St Joseph in Australia and New Zealand realise that their mission and charism (spirit) have always remained the same and are in constant efforts to reunite and show all of their common values.

At the same time these congregations are connected with Sisters of St Joseph throughout the world, making a link between the first congregation at Le Puy and today's worldwide congregations.

The motherhouse for the Josephites in Australia is at 9 Mount St, North Sydney, a property purchased by St Mary of the Cross at the Pope's request.


United Kingdom

There are eight houses in the United Kingdom, under the provincial house and novitiate, which was founded in 1864, at Llantarnam Abbey in Cwmbran, South Wales. The congregation now numbers 60, in charge of 10 elementary day and boarding-schools, with an attendance of about 2000. In Scotland at St Mary's College, Blairs, 15 sisters have charge of the [household] arrangements and work of the college.


The Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition maintain a boarding school on the island of Syros, a major center of the Catholic Religion in Greece.


The Indian foundation was made in 1906. The provincial house and novitiate are located in Visakhapatnam (once known as Waltair), Andhra Pradesh.


Notable members

  • Sisters Jeanne Marie Aubert and Marie Anne Garnier were guillotined 17 June 1794.[2]
  • Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ - theologian, scholar, author of Quest for the Living God[40]
  • Sister Joan Mitchell – Bible scholar and author of Mark's Gospel: The Whole Story[41]
  • Sue Mosteller, CSJ - author, speaker and first international L'Arche coordinator
  • Sister Alice Anita Murphy; key conservative member of the LCWR is the late 60s and early 70s as the mother general of one of the largest regional regions institutes in the USA
  • Sister Carol Anne O'Marie – author of a series of mystery novels
  • Sister Helen Prejean – author of Dead Man Walking
  • Mary Shaver, formerly Sister Doris – author of The Naked Nun

See also


  1. ^ a b "Our Heritage", U.S.Federation Sisters of Saint Joseph
  2. ^ a b c "Our Story", Sisters of St. Joseph, Boston
  3. ^ "History", Sisters of Saint Joseph Philadelphia
  4. ^ a b c Sisters of St. Joseph, Baden, Pennsylvania
  5. ^ a b c "History of the St. Louis province", Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, St. Louis Province
  6. ^ a b "History page", Sisters of St. Joseph, Albany Province
  7. ^ Barbra Mann Wall, "Called to a Mission of Charity: The Sisters of St. Joseph in the Civil War," Nursing History Review (1998) Vol. 6, pp. 85–113
  8. ^ St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf, St. Louis, Missouri
  9. ^ St. Joseph's Academy, St. Louis, Missouri
  10. ^ St. Teresa Academy, Kansas City, Missouri
  11. ^ Ascension Health
  12. ^ Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates, St. Paul Province
  13. ^ St. Catherine's University
  14. ^ Carondelet Health Network
  15. ^ St. Mary'S Hospital
  16. ^ St. Joseph's Hospital
  17. ^ Holy Cross Hospital
  18. ^ a b "Beginnings", Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambery
  19. ^ Sisters of Saint Joseph of Medaille, Baton Rouge, La
  20. ^ Sisters of Saint Joseph of Medaille, Cincinnati, Ohio
  21. ^ Congregation of St. Joseph website
  22. ^ Lady Guadalupe Middle School For Girls
  23. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  24. ^ Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation (July 2007). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form: Mount Saint Joseph". State of West Virginia, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2011-09-01. 
  25. ^ Congregation website
  26. ^ Nazareth Academy
  27. ^ Sisters of Saint Joseph, Erie, PA
  28. ^ Sisters of Saint Joseph Sisters Watertown NY
  29. ^ Sisters of Saint Joseph Philadelphia, PA
  30. ^ Villa St. Joseph
  31. ^ a b Welcome to the SSJ center for spirituality
  32. ^ Welcome to the SSJ center for spirituality
  33. ^
  34. ^ Villa St Joseph
  35. ^ Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine, Florida
  36. ^ Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto Hamilton, Ontario
  37. ^ Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto London, Ontario
  38. ^ Sisters of St. Joseph of Peterborough
  39. ^ Sisters of St. Joseph of Pembroke, Ontario
  40. ^ "Religious community publicly backs embattled Sr. Elizabeth Johnson". July 14, 2011. Retrieved July 14, 2011. 
  41. ^ "Meet Sister Joan Mitchell CSJ". December 12, 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013. 

External links

In general

North America

  • Sisters of Saint Joseph, Baden, PA
  • Sisters of Saint Joseph, Brentwood, NY
  • Sisters of Saint Joseph, Orange, CA
  • Sisters of Saint Joseph, Tipton, Indiana
  • Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet
  • Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet – Hawaii Vice Province
  • Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet – Los Angeles Province
  • Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet – Saint Louis, MO Province
  • Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet – Saint Paul Province
  • Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet – Tucson, AZ Province
  • Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambery – Hartford CT Province
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