SISTERS OF ST JOSEPH OF CARONDELET
Sisters. of St. Joseph of Carondelet is a congregation of women
religious which traces its origin to and follows the spirit of the
foundation made in LePuy en
about 1650 by Jean Pierre
Medaille, S.J., with Francoise Eyraud and her five women
companions, under the pastoral care of Bishop Henri de Maupas. Dedicated
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" (Primitive
Constitutions), the community had a rapid growth until the
time of the French Revolution when some of the convents were
suppressed and the sisters were forced to live as lay persons.
Sisters of St. Joseph were put to death by the revolutionaries and
among those imprisoned was Mother St. John Fontbonne, superior of
the convent at Monistrol. Scheduled to be executed on July 28,
1794, she was spared when Robespierre fell from power on July 27.
Thirteen years later, Cardinal Fesch, Archbishop of Lyons,
requested her to reestablish the community in his diocese.
Through Mother St. John Fontbonne the Congregation maintains
continuity with the community founded by Father Medaille and officially
established in LePuy by Bishop de Maupas.
first Sisters of St. Joseph came to
in 1836 in response to a
request from Bishop Joseph Rosati for a small group of religious
to open a school for the deaf in
. Two convents were established
- one in Cahokia, which closed in 1855, the other in Carondelet, a
village on the outskirts of St. Louis. Carondelet was destined
to become the cradle of the American congregation, and the school
for the deaf which was opened there in 1837 survives today in St.
Joseph's Institute for the Deaf, a school internationally
recognized for its excellence.
Rosati named Mother Celestine Pommerel superior of the Carondelet
community in 1840. In 1847 the first foundation outside St. Louis
was made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to be followed shortly by
foundations in St. Paul, Minnesota and Toronto, Canada. As
foundations continued to multiply, the need for centralized
government was recognized. At the invitation of Mother St. John
Facemaz, successor to Mother Celestine, delegates from the several
branches of the Sisters of St. Joseph met in St. Louis in May 1860
to approve a plan of general government. Three provinces were
established with headquarters in St. Louis.
. Mother St. John Facemaz was
elected first superior general for a term of six years. (Some
communities at this time made the decision to remain under
of the first concerns of Mother St. John Facemaz was to secure
papal approbation for the Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Shortly
after her election, Mother St. John went to Rome and presented a
copy of the Constitutions
for approval. A degree of commendation was received in 1863.
Some years later, when Mother Agatha Guthrie was superior general,
the final approbation was received, dated May 16, 1877. This approval
established the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet as. a
congregation of pontifical right.
fourth province was added in 1876 with provincial headquarters in
Tucson, Arizona. In 1903 the provincialate was moved from
. Subsequently, several small
groups appealed to Carondelet for admission into the congregation,
including the Sisters St. Joseph of Lewiston, Idaho who became
part of the Los Angeles Province in 1925. and the Sisters of St.
Joseph of Georgia, who joined the congregation as a separate
province in 1922 and became part of the
in 1961. The Sisters of St Joseph
of Superior, Wisconsin joined our congregation in 1986, becoming
part of the St. Paul Province.
congregation established foundations in Hawaii in 1938, in Japan
in 1956 and in Peru in 1962. These have flourished and have
attracted native members.
The Hawaii community
became a vice-province in 1956, the Japan
communities in 1978.