You can find Sisters of St. Joseph just about anywhere. We were founded to discover where the need was greatest. We were to go there with love of God and love of neighbor without distinction. For over 350 years, that’s what we have been doing, and it must be effective, for you can now find us in 57 countries. The Springfield Congregation and our lay associates serve in schools and prisons, protest war and advocate nonviolent means of peacemaking, and work with and for justice. We do so joyfully.
It all began in a little village of LePuy, France, more than 350 years ago. The founding Sisters formed a community of women who would love and serve their “dear neighbor”. They worked in orphanages, and schools. They took care of the poor and the sick.
The Congregation dispersed during the French Revolution but was restored by Mother St. John Fontbonne in Lyons, France several years later.
In 1836, nearly two centuries after their founding in France, a small group of Sisters came to Carondolet, Missouri to begin a school for the deaf. From there, the Sisters moved to many parts of the United States and Canada. One of the original buildings at Mont Marie, Holyoke, circa 1950.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield was founded in 1883 following a request by the pastor of St. Patrick’s in Chicopee Falls. He needed help starting a parish school and so seven sisters from the New York Congregation moved to the Springfield area. The small community grew slowly but steadily while educating poor immigrant children in central and western Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
By the mid 1960’s, the ranks of the Springfield Congregation swelled to over one thousand women. The group had founded or staffed sixty schools and had established the Elms College.
Then following the Second Vatican Council, the Sisters restructured their community life. Many moved out of convents and into small houses and apartments in local towns and cities. Their ministries expanded as well. No longer limited to schools, the Sisters worked in prisons, parishes, homeless shelters and other social services.
In the mid 1970s, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Fall River merged with the Springfield Congregation. In 2001, Sisters of St. Joseph of Rutland, Vermont joined the community which also covers Worcester, the Berkshires, Rhode Island and even Louisiana and Uganda. Today, the Springfield Congregation of about 330 Sisters continues to serve the people of God through a variety of ministries.
The SSJ Springfield Congregation is part of a Federation of all the Sisters of St. Joseph in the United States which includes over 7,000 members of 23 congregations. Visit their web site at: SSJ Federation