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Sisters of Saint Joseph

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Founded at Le Puy, in Velay, France, by the Rev. Jean-Paul Médaille of the Society of Jesus (b. at Carcassonne, 29 January, 1618; d. at Auch, 15 May, 1689). He was admitted into the Society in 1640, became noted as a teacher of rhetoric and philosophy before entering upon his career as a preacher, in which he distinguished himself by his great oratorical power, but most especially by his marvelous influence over souls. He encouraged a few of his most fervent penitents to consecrate themselves to the service of God, and addressed himself to the Bishop of Le Puy, the Right Rev. Henri de Maupas, a friend and disciple of the great St. Vincent de Paul. The bishop invited the aspirants to assemble at Le Puy where shortly afterwards he placed them in charge of the orphan asylum for girls. On 15 October, 1650, he addressed them as a religious community, placed them under the protection of St. Joseph, and ordered that they should be called the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. As their numbers increased, he gave them rules for their guidance, and as the congregation had been established in the diocese for the Christian education of children, he recommended that the teachers fit themselves especially for this important work. He also prescribed as their religious dress a black habit and veil, a black cincture on which a large rosary is worn, a band of white linen across the forehead, and a white linen coif fastened under the chin. Later a white linen gimp was added.

In regard to the spirit by which the sisters were to be animated, Bishop de Maupas writes: "As I have found in the Visitation Order a sort of blessed predilection for the exact observance of the holiest laws of humility and charity, I have decided to institute the Congregation of St. Joseph on the same model, and in the same spirit, as the Sisters of the Visitation before they adopted enclosure." The constitutions which Father Médaille wrote for the sisters are borrowed from the rules of St. Ignatius, the saintly founder adding observations from his own experience. According to the rule, each community was to consider as its superior the bishop of the diocese, who was to appoint a spiritual father to accompany him, or, in his absence, to preside at the election of superiors and perform such offices as the necessities of the community might require. Father Médaille prescribed three months, at least, for the probation time of a postulant, and four years for novitiate training, two years preparatory, and two years after the making of the vows, which are final. At her profession, the novice receives a brass crucifix, which the bishop presents with these words: "Receive, my child, the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, to which you are affixed by the three vows as by so many nails; wear it openly on your breast as a most sure defense against the enemy; endeavour especially to carry it faithfully in your heart, by loving it tenderly and by bearing with delight and humility this sweet burden, that faithfully living and dying in the love of the cross with Jesus, you may also triumph with Him in glory." The sisters devote three hours a day to their regular devotions. They recite the Office of the Blessed Virgin on Sundays and feasts of obligation. On other days, the Office of the Holy Ghost is substituted.

The successor of Bishop de Maupas, Bishop Armand de Béthune, approved the congregation, 23 September, 1655, and Louis XIV confirmed by letters patent the first establishments of the Sisters of St. Joseph in the cities of Le Puy, St-Didier, and several other places in Velay. They were later introduced into the Dioceses of Clermont, Vienne, Lyons, Grenoble, Embrun, Gap, Sisteron, Vivier, Uges, and almost the whole of France. Foundations were made also in Savoy, Italy, and Corsica.

In 1793 the convents and chapels of the sisters were confiscated, their annals were destroyed, and the religious were obliged to join communities in other countries, or to return to their respective homes in the world. The congregation has had its martyrs, three during the persecution in Dauphiné, for refusing to take the civil oath, and two in another persecution in Haute-Loire. During the reign of terror, several Sisters of St. Joseph died for the Faith, and several others escaped the guillotine only by the fall of Robespierre. Among the latter was Mother St. John Fontbonne, who in her notebook records the names of four Sisters of St. Joseph imprisoned with her at St-Didier, five others in the dungeon of Feurs, and twenty in Clermont and other parts of France.

The first use Mother St. John made of her liberty was to try to reassemble her dispersed community. She applied in vain to the municipality for the restoration of the convent in which she had invested her dowry, and while awaiting the dawn of a brighter day, returned to her own home. The vicar-general, the Rev. Claude Cholleton, invited Mother St. John to repair, in 1807, to Saint-Etienne to take charge of a little band of religious representing different communities which, like that of St. Joseph, had been disbanded during the Revolution. Other young women joined the little household, all of whom Mother St. John zealously trained according to the life and rules of the first Sisters of St. Joseph. The community prospered. 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. On reopening the mission at Monistrol, Mother St. John expressed great joy and satisfaction. The work of the congregation continued, the increase in numbers keeping pace with demands now made on every side for convents and Catholic schools. Wherever obedience directed, thither the missionaries hastened, till representatives of the community might be counted in nearly every country in Europe, on the distant shores of Asia, and in the fastnesses of Africa.

The recent upheaval in France is like history repeating itself in the spirit of the Revolution. Hundreds convents, schools, and charitable institutions, belonging to the Sisters of St. Joseph, have been suppressed, and the religious have been obliged to seek safety and shelter in other lands. Consequently many new missions, in the remotest parts of the United States , have been recently opened. In 1903 four sisters who fled from France at the beginning of the troubles there, sought and obtained hospitality at St. Joseph's Convent, Flushing. They remained nearly two years, or until they had sufficiently mastered the English language, and fitted themselves for educational work awaiting them in Minnesota, where they have since opened three little mission houses.

United States


In 1873 the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brooklyn 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. The sisters were soon in demand throughout the archdiocese, and now (1910) number 300, in charge of an academy, 12 parochial schools, a school for the deaf, and an industrial home for girls. They have 7000 children under their care.


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 8 Sept., 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 community, now (1910) numbering over 600 members, is represented in over 50 parishes of the diocese, in which the sisters preside over 8 academies, 50 parochial schools, 3 orphan asylums, a home for women, and 2 hospitals, having under their care 11,000 children, not including 1300 orphans. They teach Christian doctrine in many Sunday schools besides those attached to the schools under their charge. In nearly all the mission houses are evening classes for adults to whom the sisters give religious instruction. They also visit the sick in the parishes in which they reside.


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. The congregation, which now (1910) numbers 285 members, also has charge of 28 parochial schools in the diocese, 3 orphan asylums, a working boys home, an infants' asylum, and a home for women and working girls. The sisters have under their care 5000 children, not including 470 orphans and deaf mutes and 600 inmates of their various homes.


In 1873 the Rev. Charles Boylan of Rutland, 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, 15 October, 1876. The congregation now (1910) numbers 75 religious, in charge of an academy attached to the mother-house, 6 parochial schools, one in the Diocese of Pittsburg, and a home for the aged, with 36 inmates. The total number of children under the care of the sisters is 1700.


The Sisters of St. Joseph were established at La Grange, Illinois, 9 October, 1899, by two sisters under Mother Stanislaus Leary, formerly superior of the diocesan community at Rochester, New York. On 14 July, 1900, the corner-stone of the mother-house was laid. The sisters who now (1910) number 65, are in charge of an academy with an attendance of 100 and a school for boys.


The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Diocese of Cleveland are chiefly engaged in the parochial schools. They number about 80 and have charge of an academy and 13 parish schools, with an attendance of 4500.


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 now numbers 240, in charge of 3 academies, 2 hospitals, and 26 schools, in the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Dioceses of Marquette, Rockford, Kansas City, Omaha, Lincoln, and Concordia. The sisters have about 4000 children under their care.


In 1889 Sisters of St. Joseph from the Diocese of Ogdensburg established a new congregation at Kalamazoo, Michigan. The novitiate was transferred, in 1897, to Nazareth, a hamlet founded by the sisters on a four-hundred-acre farm. The congregation, which numbers 187, has charge of a hospital, training school for nurses, normal school, a home for feeble-minded children, an orphan asylum, and several other educational institutions, besides supplying teachers for 7 parish schools of the diocese. The sisters have about 1600 children under their care, including 200 orphans.


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. Later an orphan asylum, a hospital, and a home for the aged were erected in the city of Erie. 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. The congregation now numbers 210 members, in charge of 14 parochial schools, attended by 3900 children, in addition to the other institutions mentioned above.

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. The sisters now number 43, in charge of four parochial schools, with an attendance of about 1200.

Fort Wayne

The Sisters of St. Joseph, with their mother-house at Tipton, number 60, in charge of an academy and 5 parochial schools, with an attendance of 1000.


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. The congregation, which now numbers about 75 members, has charge of several parish schools, the Immaculate Heart Academy at Watertown, which is the mother-house, an orphanage, and a school for boys, having about 1100 children under its care. In 1907 the sisters established a mission at Braddock, Pennsylvania, for work in the parochial schools there.


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 Venerable Bishop Neuman, 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, the 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. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia now (1910) number 626 professed members, 64 novices, and 31 postulants, in charge of a collegiate institute for the higher education of women, an academy and boarding-school, 42 parish schools, and 2 high schools in the Archdioceses of Philadelphia and Baltimore, and the Dioceses of Newark and Harrisburg, and 4 asylums and homes. The number of children under their care, including those in asylums, is nearly 26,000.


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. The accession of new members enabled the sisters to meet the increasing demands made upon them, and they now number 175, in charge of 23 schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Dioceses of Pittsburg, Cleveland, and Columbus, with an attendance of 6075; they also conduct a hospital and 2 boarding-schools. In 1901 the mother-house was transferred to Baden, Pennsylvania.


In 1864 four Sisters of St. Joseph from Buffalo opened an asylum for orphan boys at Rochester. Three years later the Diocese of Buffalo was divided and that of Rochester created, and the following year, 1868, the Rochester community dissolved its affiliation with the Buffalo mother-house and opened its own novitiate and mother-house at St. Mary's Boys' Orphan Asylum, later transferred to the Nazareth Academy, Rochester. The number of institutions now directed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester has risen to 50 (1910): 5 private educational institutions , including a conservatory of music and art; 5 charitable institutions, including 3 orphan asylums, a hospital, and a home for the aged; and 40 parochial schools, including one high school. The community numbers 430 members, in charge of 15,000 children.

St. Augustine

In 1866 eight Sisters of St. Joseph from the mother-house at Le Puy were sent to St. Augustine, at the request of Bishop Verot , to teach the coloured people, recently liberated by the Civil War. In 1880 a novitiate was established, and about the same time, owing to the departure of the Sisters of Mercy from the city, the training of the impoverished whites also devolved on the new community. In 1889 connection with the mother-house in France was severed, and many of the French sisters returned to their native land. The sisters now number about 105 in charge of 6 academies, 14 day-schools, and 1 orphanage. They have under their charge about 1438 white and 240 coloured children, and about 35 orphans. The mother-house of the Florida missions is at St. Augustine.

St. Louis

In the year 1834 the Right Rev. Joseph Rosati of St. Louis, Missouri, called at the mother-house of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Lyons 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 Father 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 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.

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 7 June, 1867, and ten years later, 16 May, 1877, a decree approving the institute and constitutions was issued by the Sacred Congregation of Bishops and Regulars. On 31 July, 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 is at present (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 City, Indianapolis, Peoria, Belleville, Alton, Denver, Marquette, Green Bay, Mobile, and Oklahoma. The province of St. Paul includes the houses in the Archdiocese of St. Paul, Minnesota , and the Dioceses of Winona and Fargo, North Dakota. 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 Dioceses of Tucson, Arizona, and Los Angeles, California. 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. The congregation now (1910) numbers 4 provinces, with 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 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. The sisters now number about 65, in charge of an academy, 2 boarding-schools for small boys, and several parish schools, with a total attendance of over 500.


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, Springfield. In 1885 the Springfield mission was constituted the mother-house of an independent diocesan congregation. The sisters are in constant demand for parochial schools and now (1910), with a membership of 300, conduct 19, with an attendance of about 9000. In 1889 they took charge of the school at Windsor Locks in the Diocese of Hartford, from which, in 1908, they were recalled to the Springfield diocese. The curriculum of their boarding-school at Chicopee embraces a normal course. They also visit the sick and take charge of Sunday-school classes. Since 1892 the sisters have devoted themselves particularly to the work of establishing Catholic high schools, and high-school courses are connected with practically all the parochial schools under their supervision.


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 ; they now number over 100, in charge of 3 hospitals, 12 schools and academies, and 2 orphan asylums, with about 1700 children under their care.


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 Diocese of Leavenworth. The following year the Right Rev. L. M. Pink, Bishop of Leavenworth, decided that those sisters should belong to his diocese exclusively, and in so doing they became the nucleus of a new diocesan community of the Sisters of St. Joseph, having their mother-house established at Abilene, under the title of Mount St. Joseph's Academy. 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. At the present time (1910), the sisters, who number 200, have charge of 3 hospitals, all in the Diocese of Wichita, and 18 parochial schools, including one in the Diocese of Leavenworth, one in the Diocese of Kansas City, Missouri, and 3 in connection with the sanitarium at Del Norte, Colorado.



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. During the cholera epidemic of 1854 the sisters cared for those afflicted. 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 and now (1910) numbers 155 religious in charge of 2 hospitals, 2 houses of providence, and 12 schools, with an attendance of 2300.


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. The sisters now (1910) number 131, in charge of 10 mission houses, including 9 hospitals, 12 schools, an orphan asylum, and a house of refuge for the aged; they have about 2200 children under their care.


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. The community now (1910) numbers 200 sisters, in 14 houses, in charge of an academy 3 hospitals, 2 orphanages, a home for the aged, and 10 separate schools, in the Dioceses of Peterborough and Sault Ste-Marie. They have over 1000 children under their care.


The mother-house of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Toronto was established from Le Puy, France, in 1851. The congregation now comprises 266 members, in charge of 3 academies, 1 high school and 22 separate schools, with a total attendance of 5025; 5 charitable institutions, with 900 inmates; and 1 hospital, with an annual average of 2900.



In England the Sisters of St. Joseph devote themselves entirely to the work of teaching. The mother-house of the English congregation is at Annecy in Savoy, where the sisters possess the very cradle of the Visitation Order. They have Seven houses in England and one in Scotland, under the provincial house and novitiate for England, which was founded in 1864, at Newport, Mon. The congregation now numbers 60, in charge of 10 elementary day and boarding-schools, with an attendance of about 2000. In Scotland, at Blair's College, 15 sisters have charge of the household arrangements and work of the college.

In India the sisters have hospitals, homes, orphanages, etc., just as they have in France, and they also go out to nurse the sick in their own homes. In British India there are about 70 sisters in 7 houses, the provincial house and novitiate being at Waltair, with which are connected a day-school, boarding-school, native orphanage, native day-school, dispensary, and a novitiate for natives. In other parts of India the sisters conduct a primary school, a boarding and day school, an intermediate school for Hindus, with an attendance of 200, a home for Rajpoot widows and another home for widows, a workshop for widows and orphans, and 4 orphanages. At Palconda are two sisters who serve as catechists and sacristans. In all these missions the primary, secondary, and intermediate schools are under the Government. In some the orphanages are aided or wholly supported by the Government. Everywhere remedies are given to the sick natives, and the work of infant baptism of natives is carried on. When natives enter the congregation, the noviceship is made apart from the Europeans, but they are treated in every way as members of the community. The work of the native novitiate is only in its infancy, and it is hoped that the native sisters will in the future be most useful with the native population. The Indian foundation was made in 1849.


Sisters of St. Joseph of Bourg

In 1819 a foundation from the mother-house of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Lyons was made at Belley ; a novitiate was opened and houses were established in other parts of the diocese. In 1823, at the desire of the Bishop of Belley, the sisters of the diocese were constituted an independent diocesan congregation. The mother-house was transferred to Ain, in 1825, whence houses were founded at Ferney Gap, Grenoble, Bordeaux, and elsewhere. In 1828 and again in 1853, Bishop Devie obtained the approval of the French Government for the new congregation. By 1865 the number of members had reached 1700, and the congregation was established throughout France, the principal academies being at Bourg, Paris, Boulogne-sur-Seine, and Marseilles.

In 1854 the sisters were sent from Bourg to establish a house at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, in the Diocese of Natchez. In 1863 a novitiate was opened at New Orleans, and later one was established at Cedar Point, Hamilton County, Ohio. The sisters are now in charge of 15 educational institutions, including several academies, as well as coloured and Indian schools, a home for working girls, and an industrial school, with about 1800 children and young women under their care.

The Sisters of St. Joseph were established at Superior, Wis., in 1907 by seven sisters from Cincinnati. They now number 21, in charge of 3 schools, with an attendance of 225.

In 1904 a colony of French sisters was sent out from Bourg, and schools have since been opened among the French Canadians in Minnesota and Wisconsin. In the Diocese of Duluth they have 2 academies with an attendance of 220.

Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambéry

After the reconstruction of the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Lyons, by Mother St. John Fontbonne a colony of sisters was sent to Chambéry, in Savoy, in 1812. The tide of anarchy and revolution had wrought awful havoc in France, and the education of youth, especially the children of the working classes, was the special work devolving on the Sisters of St. Joseph. The works of charity, the care of the sick in hospitals, of the aged and orphans, and the visitation of the sick in their homes, were also carried on as prior to the Revolution. The original habit was somewhat modified and became about what it is now in the French houses, consisting of a black dress, veil and underveil, woollen cincture, wooden beads strung on brass and fastened to the cincture, a brass crucifix on the breast, and a linen coronet, front, and gimp. In 1843 Mother St. John Marcoux, superior since 1812, resigned her office, which was assumed by Mother Félicité, under whom the congregation continued its extraordinary development. More than eighty houses rose beneath her hand, and when, in 1861, a state normal school was opened at Rumilly, Savoy, 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.

The province of Denmark, whither the sisters were sent in 1856, has its seat at Copenhagen, and now numbers 400 members, in charge of flourishing parochial and private schools and a large hospital in the capital, with schools, orphan asylums , and hospitals, on a smaller scale, scattered all over the kingdom. From Copenhagen sisters were sent to Iceland, where they have a school, give religious instruction, visit the sick, and, during the proper seasons, repair to the fisheries on the coast to nurse sick sailors. In 1901 this province opened a house at Brussels, where the sisters have a large public school under the Government. The Brazilian province, founded in 1859, has several flourishing academies, besides day-schools for the upper classes, schools for negroes, hospitals, orphanages and foundling asylums, and one home for lepers. The sisters number about 250, under the provincial house at Itu. In 1862 sisters were sent to establish a school at Stockholm, and in 1876 to Gothenburg. The Norwegian province, dating from 1865, with seat at Christiania, has over 180 sisters. The province of Russia, founded in 1872, with novitiate at Tarnapol, Galicia, outside the frontier, has establishments at St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Odessa: two large academies, a day-school, an orphan asylum , a hospital, a home for the aged, etc. In 1876 the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rome, founded from Turin in 1839, were annexe

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