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THE SISTERS OF ST JOSEPH OF CARONDELET

 

The 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 Velay , France 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.

Five 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.

The first Sisters of St. Joseph came  to America from Lyons 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 St. Louis . 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.

Bishop 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. Missouri , St. Paul , Minnesota and Troy , New York . 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 diocesan juris­diction.)

One 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.

A fourth province was added in 1876 with provincial headquarters in Tucson, Arizona. In 1903 the provincialate was moved from Tucson to Los Angeles . 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 St. Louis Province in 1961. The Sisters of St Joseph of Superior, Wisconsin joined our congregation in 1986, becoming part of the St. Paul Province.

The 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 and Peru communities in 1978.

The First Convent for the Sisters when they Arrived at Carondelet in St. Louis in 1836
 
 

The History of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Hawaii is described in wonderful detail in the book "Aloha Ke Akua, The Love of God"

By Sister Kathleen Marie Shields, CSJ.  

Sister Kathleen served twenty-one years of ministry in the Hawaii Vice-Province. 

The chapters of Aloha Ke Akua have grown out of a deep gratitude for the courageous lives of the Founding CSJ missionaries and a joy-filled experience of shared ministry with the present Sisters, The Ohana and the rainbow of multicultural people throughout the Diocese of Honolulu.

 


The book can also be purchased by mail:

The Vice Province Office

Aloha Ke Akua
Carondelet Center
5311 Apo Drive
Honolulu, Hawaii 96821

(808) 373-3850

 

The price is $10.00 plus $5.00 Shipping & Handling

 

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