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Sisters of St. Joseph Celebrate 175 Years in the United States
On March 25, 1836, after seven weeks at sea and a three-week trip up the Mississippi River, six courageous Sisters of St. Joseph, ages 21-30, arrived in St. Louis from France. They hastened to the Old Cathedral to give thanks for a safe end to a long journey.
Since that very day, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet have served the dear neighbor without distinction. All of us, sisters, associates, family, friends, benefactors, colleagues, partners in ministry, share in these 175 years of live-giving presence, relationships and collaboration. We invite you to unite with us as we remember the past, celebrate the present and embrace the future.
A combination of circumstances contributed to the first establishment of the Sisters of St. Joseph in America. Through her work with the Propagation of the Faith, Felicité Duras, a French countess, was greatly moved by a letter from Bishop Joseph Rosati, the first bishop of St. Louis, asking for sisters who would undertake instruction of the deaf. The countess offered to defray the expense of establishing a community of Sisters of St. Joseph in the diocese of St. Louis. She had a great love and admiration for Mother St. John Fontbonne and asked her to send the sisters to America.
The first six sisters arrived in New Orleans March 5 after seven weeks at sea. On March 25, 1836 they traveled up the Mississippi River and reached the old Cathedral. After spending some time in St. Louis learning English, these courageous women opened their first mission in Cahokia, Illinois, on April 7, 1836. On September 12 they moved into the log cabin in Carondelet which was destined to become the Motherhouse of the community in America.
From Carondelet many institutions had their start and continue their good works to the present day. Within Church structures the sisters developed professionally into a well-educated and competent group of women, teaching in schools and institutes of higher learning, caring for the sick and elderly in hospitals and homes, and caring for the deaf and orphans.
The Present Time
Today, as the Sisters of St. Joseph celebrate 175 years in the United States, they continue to work closely with lay persons as they serve in parishes, schools, colleges, universities and diocesan offices; in health care, child care, deaf education, youth ministry and adult education; in homes and programs for the elderly, in social work, neighborhood and community development and social concerns; as artists, consultants, counselors, and spiritual directors. In a special way they are in partnership with men and women who are desirous of sharing the mission of Jesus. Non-vowed associates of the sisters also meet regularly to share life and prayer with one another and to share in the Church’s mission with the Sisters of St. Joseph.
You might enjoy reading some of the following publicity about our 175th Anniversary in the United States:
“Sisters of St. Joseph 175th Celebration of Arrival in the U.S.,” St. Mary’s Hospital at Amsterdam NY, March 30, 2011