Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
History of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet
In the mid 1600s, six ordinary women joined together in community under the patronage of St. Joseph in LePuy, France. They were neither educated nor wealthy, but worked to support themselves by making lace, a common trade in that region of France.
This community without cloister or habit and devoted to the needs of ordinary people continues today. The sisters live among the people and offer their lives in love and service to the dear neighbor without distinction. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet traces its origins to and follows the spirit of the foundation made by Jean Pierre Medialle, S.J. in France. The members of the community continue to dedicate themselves to the "practice of all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy of which woman is capable and which will most benefit the dear neighbor."
This group of women grew in number and service until political turmoil during the French Revolution in the 1790s disbanded the women, suppressed the convents and forced the sisters to live as lay persons. Mother St. John Fontbonne, a heroic woman who narrowly escaped the guillotine, refounded the Sisters of St. Joseph at Lyon, France in 1807.
In 1836, a request came from Bishop Rosati in St. Louis, Missouri for sisters to teach the deaf. Eight women were chosen to travel across the ocean and make the first foundation in the United States. They arrived in Carondelet, Missouri, a small town outside St. Louis. The foundation was destined to become the cradle of the American congregation.
Two of the sisters began St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf in 1837. This ministry continues to the present time. Their intense identification with the local church in France served the Sisters of St. Joseph well in putting down roots in the United States. The sisters began teaching local children and continue today in education at all levels. In countless locations the sisters minister in parishes, health care facilities, clinics, retreat houses and neighborhood outreach centers.
The congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet grew throughout the United States. Besides Missouri, province houses were established in New York, Minnesota and California. During the middle of the twentieth century, vice province houses were established in Hawaii, Japan, and Peru. At the present time there are twenty-two congregations represented in the United States Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
For over three centuries the Sisters of St. Joseph have continued to live in community, support one another in prayer and reach out to address the needs of all with generosity and love. The needs of the new millennium continue to call for right relationships with the Earth and one another in a spirit of reconciliation and unity.
More complete information on the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet can be found on their web site www.csjcarondelet.org.
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet - St. Louis Province
The St. Louis Province is one unit of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and maintains the distinction of preserving the site of the original foundation established in the village of Carondelet in 1863. With the spread of the Sisters of St. Joseph throughout the United States, headquarters for the St. Louis Province remain at the original site located at 6400 Minnesota Avenue in the City of St. Louis. St. Joseph’s Academy was established at our historic motherhouse in 1840 and the original Academy sign still remains above the entrance on the Holly Hills side of the building. Although the Academy relinquished its location at Carondelet in 1925, the St. Louis Province continues to sponsor St. Joseph’ s Academy.
In concert with other units of the Congregation, the Sisters of the St. Louis Province work to form loving relationships with God, with themselves, within community, Church, society, and all creation. They work toward this mission through the ministries of prayer, direct service, consciousness raising, and systemic change.
Please visit the Province web site at www.csjsl.org for current information about Province activites and tours of Carondelet, our Motherhouse.