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People and organizations
Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph - London

The Hope Project

  • Corporate body
  • 2009-2010

The Hope Project ran from 2009-2010 in London, with the first meeting about the project in March, 2009. It was funded by a donation from the Congregation, and provided grants of between $20 and $200 to people with ideas to bring hope to their communities. The project was run by Sr. Catherine Stafford and Helene Diesbourg and was based on a similar project run by Sr. Catherine in Edmonton in 1995-1996. The project in Edmonton was sponsored by the Hope Foundation and involved the administration of small grants ($20-$100) to be used to spread hope. A project was also run by Sr. Yvonne Parent in Windsor. The Windsor project started in 2009 with a grant of $10,000 from the Congregation, which was disbursed in 2010. Funds were requested for 2011and $2,000 was received from the Congregation, with instructions to seek funding from four business partners. It was not possible to find partners, and so the Windsor project came to an end.

In London, Sister Catherine and Helene visited with contact people at local agencies who recommended applicants who then took part in the application process. The local agencies received the applications. Some of these agencies had strong connections to the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. The agencies included Cross Cultural Learner Centre, My Sister’s Place, and St. Joseph’s Hospitality Centre. My Sister’s Place, originally Home for Women in Need, was run by the Sisters. The Cross Cultural Learner Centre is connected to the Congregation through the Sisters’ donation of the Refugee House behind the St. Joseph’s Hospitality Centre. The Hospitality Centre is a soup kitchen run by the Sisters. Glen Cairn Community Resource Centre, Crouch Community Resource Centre, and the London Intercommunity Health Centre were other agencies which accepted applications for the Hope Project.

Over the course of The Hope Project in London there were 50 funding requests, with total project expenditures of $7,455. The types of projects that were funded included supporting the purchase of YMCA memberships, musical instruments, pet care, health or dental care, and household supplies.

Workshops and Events

  • Corporate body
  • September 1953- December 2006

The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in London has been around since the 19th century. The longevity of the organization has seen many members both formerly and currently working with the diocese to spread the word of God and the community involvement of the Sisters that represent the Congregation. Anniversaries have come and gone which continue to build on the legacy of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Workshops and events focused around celebrations, reunions and festivals usually accompanied a major accomplishment or transition within the Congregation and helped to memorialize the progress of the Sisters that make up the diocese in Canada. The workshops and events sometimes were also arranged around missioning ceremonies like a send off or return of a Sister from another country to spread the word of God and the Congregations community involvement. Workshops range from educational to creative and encourage positivity.

Community Communications

  • Corporate body
  • 1947-2014

The newsletters in this series were produced as a way of communicating to Sisters living in the Motherhouse and also in convents in the places in which they were missioned. Before email communication became more common, the physical newsletters were the primary source for congregational news. The various newsletters have different authors. Three authors of note are General Superiors Mother Margaret Coughlin (1947-1959), Mother Julia Moore (1959-1971), and Sister Katherine McKeough (1979-1987).
Mother Margaret Coughlin had a significant impact on the congregation particularly with regard to community projects. During her tenure, the St Mary’s Hospital building project was completed, Catholic Central High School was opened, new Constitutions were approved, and sod was turned for a new Motherhouse at Mount St. Joseph. In addition, various new homes and missions were established for Sisters.

Mother Julia Moore was a great leader in the congregation. She was highly educated, and served as a teacher before assuming leadership of the Sisters of St. Joseph of London. The Sisters recognized Mother Julia as a true mystic who led the Congregation through the Second Vatican Council. After her time as General Superior, Mother Julia served as a general councillor, health care coordinator of the community, and finally as Superior at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Sister Katherine McKeough trained as a nurse and spent most of her life in hospital ministry. She eventually obtained a Masters of Science in Adult Psychology at Boston University, which enabled her to be a clinical supervisor in psychiatry. She held various positions at St. Joseph’s Hospital and served on various associations and committees related to health and religious life. As General Superior, Sister Katherine is remembered for her unconditional acceptance of others and belief in people’s goodness. After her term as General Superior, Sister Katherine worked to improve the situation of homeless women.

Gagner, Sister Eveline, 1917-2020

  • Person
  • 1917-2020

Sister Eveline Gagner was born in Chatham, Ontario on July 3, 1917. She was one of five children born to Dieudonne Gagner of Tilbury, Ontario and Marie Helene Caron of Dover Township, Kent County, Ontario. Her sister, Viola Marie Blanche, also entered the Congregation, and was given the religious name Yvonne.

Sister Eveline received her B.A. from Assumption University, Windsor in 1963, and her M.A. in Theology from the University of Windsor in 1972. She received a diploma from Lumen Vitae in Brussels. Following this, she received the Attestation d’Etudes: Recherche en Catéchèse from the University of Montreal in 1967. Three years later, in 1970, she received her Attestation d’Etudes: Perfectionnement en Religion from the University of Sherbrooke. Sister Eveline attended the EXODUS program in St. Louis Missouri, during a sabbatical period in 1988.

As well as her academic training, Sister Eveline holds her permanent teaching certificates for French and English. She taught from 1939 to 1979 in separate schools in Ontario, in London, Windsor, Belle River and Sarnia, and held positions as principal as well during this time. From 1969 to 1973, she served as the religion consultant for the Roman Catholic Separate School Board in Windsor, Ontario. From 1979 to 1982 Sister Eveline worked in the field of adult faith education as a catechist in the Stratford Deanery, followed by pastoral ministry at St. Andrew’s Parish in London from 1982 to 1988. Sister Eveline served as a volunteer in various capacities, including as a hospital visitor and ministering to the poor.

Ferris, Sister Margaret, 1931-2017

  • Person
  • May 25, 1931-November 12, 2017

Born Mary Margaret Ferris in London in 1931, Sister Margaret Ferris was a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, who has spent much of her life furthering her education and ministry. In particular, she has been a reformer and innovator of prayer, community involvement, and spiritual direction at the Congregation. She also published a book titled Compassioning: Basic Counselling Skills for Christian Caregivers in 1993, and various articles pertaining to spiritual direction and community living and involvement.

Sister Margaret Ferris was involved in her local parish at an early age and was especially encouraged in her faith by her grandmother, who lived with the Ferris family. At a young age she began to consider entering religious life. She completed upper school at St. Angela’s College in 1950 and graduated in the first class to ever graduate from Catholic Central High School in 1951. At age twenty-two, after working as a legal secretary, she joined the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. After the completion of her novitiate, she attended the University of Western Ontario where she completed her B.A. in 1959, and Master’s degree in Education in 1977. In 1959, she began her teaching career as a high school teacher.

She continued to advance in her career in the 1960s. She became vice-principal of St. Patrick’s High School in Sarnia in 1963, and then principal of Mount St. Joseph Academy in 1966. During the 1960s, she continued to further her own education. She studied during the summer months at the University of Notre Dame. There she received a Master’s degree in Science in 1968. She also became a leader of spiritual renewal at the Congregation, which resulted in a strengthening of her own prayer life.

In 1972, she resigned as principal of Mount St. Joseph Academy, and with three other Sisters, established Internos, a home for troubled teenage girls, who experienced family difficulties or substance abuse. Her ministry evolved as she became exposed to, and involved in family and community life. In 1977, she became Director of the Congregation’s Medaille Retreat House. During this time, she was also completing her Master’s degree in Counselling at the University of Western Ontario part-time. During this time, she continued to broaden her experience and understanding of spiritual direction and contemplative spirituality.

In 1978, she was elected to the Congregation’s General Council while still maintaining her position at the Retreat House where she worked alongside individuals of other Christian denominations. In 1984, she studied for a year at the Institute for Creation-Centred Spirituality in California where she obtained a Master’s degree in Spirituality and Culture. She marks this as the richest experience of community in her life, which strengthened and broadened her own spiritual understanding and life.

When she returned to London in 1985, she was asked to join St. Peter’s Seminary as a faculty member in the positions of teacher, counsellor, and Formation Director for Lay Ministry. This was another fulfilling experience for Sister Margaret Ferris as she was able to influence the development of the Church and to give empowerment/influence to the laity. She held this position for over ten years. In 1992 she obtained her Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Direction at the Graduate Theological Foundation, and in 2007 she received an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from the same institution.

Sister Margaret Ferris also dedicated a portion of her life to travelling. From 1959-1963, she made various trips around Ontario and northern U.S.A. In 1981, she travelled to Peru and Florida. In 1990, she and other Sisters visited Rome where she also met Pope John Paul II and received a rosary from him. In 2003, she made a pilgrimage to Le Puy, France, from where the Sisters of St. Joseph originally came. In 2004, she was honoured as one of the seven Golden Jubilarians in the Congregation.

Aubert, Sister Marie Angela, 1924-2008

  • Person
  • November 26, 1924 -January 17, 2008

Born November 26, 1924 in Detroit, Michigan, Angela Marie Aubert was the only daughter of Joseph Telesphore (Ted) Aubert (d. 1936) and Helen Benesch (d. 1971). She had one brother. She was raised in Wildwood, near Edmonton, Alberta during the depression. Angela Aubert attended high school in Wildwood, and in 1945 moved to Edmonton to enroll in business and secretarial studies at McTavish Business College. She began her career as a secretary in Edmonton. It was at this time that she felt a call to religious life and on August 25, 1948, she was received into the Community of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Sacred Heart Convent in London, Ontario and given the name Sister Marie Angela. After her first vows on August 25, 1950, she returned to Edmonton where she began teacher training at the University of Alberta, graduating in 1951. Sister Marie Angela Aubert professed her final vows on August 25, 1954 in London. Her first assignment, until 1957, was at the Catholic school in St. Bride's, Alberta where she was a teacher, then principal. From 1957 to 1961, Sister Marie Angela Aubert was assigned to the business office at St. Joseph's Hospital in Galahad, Alberta and then returned to teach at St. Nicholas School in Edmonton until 1964. At that time she was asked to teach business and religion at O'Leary High School. As head of the business department, she encouraged her students to manage a real business in the classroom under the sponsorship of Junior Achievement. The students had great success, even winning awards and a chance to go to Vancouver to compete in the Junior Achievement national competition. She finished her Bachelor of Education studies, graduating in 1969, from the University of Alberta. In 1971, Sister Marie Angela Aubert returned to London, Ontario as head of the business department at Mount St. Joseph Academy, and in 1975, was assigned to Catholic Central High School. While teaching there from 1975 to 1978, she received the Catholic Central High School Business Club award. When Mount St. Joseph Academy closed, the facility was opened as a Guest Wing for those who had a family member as a patient in University Hospital, and Sister Marie Angela Aubert was appointed treasurer. During those years, she volunteered at the jail, participated in the Toastmistress Club, initiated self-Bible study, and turned Gospel stories into plays. She also maintained an interest in social justice, reaching out to the least fortunate and forgotten. In 1985 and 1987, the Ministry of Corrections gave her service awards for her volunteer work at the London Detention Centre. In 1991, she was moved to Ignatia Hall Infirmary and then to the care centre at 485 Windermere Road when it was built in 2007. Sister Marie Angela Aubert died there on January 17, 2008. A Mass of Resurrection was held in St. Joseph Chapel at the 485 Windermere Road residence. She is buried at St. Peter’s Cemetery in London.

Luney, Dr. F. W. (Frederick Winnett), 1892-1987

  • Person
  • 1892-1987

Frederick Winnett (F. W.) Luney was the oldest child of Isabella and James S. Luney, born in 1892 in Middlesex, Ontario. He had three younger brothers: Oswald S., Russell H., and Willford R. In 1914, Luney graduated from the medical program at the University of Western Ontario. On May 12, 1916, he enlisted with the Canadian military in the Army Medical Services division, where he held the position of Lieutenant. Dr. Luney served as an intern at Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario, where he was appointed Senior Pathologist in 1917, a position he held until 1927. He was also appointed to the Institute of Public Health (London, Ontario) in the Division of Pathology and Bacteriology. On June 29, 1918, he married Cora E. Spettigue in London, Ontario. In 1927, Dr. Luney began work at St. Joseph’s Hospital (London, Ontario) as Director of Laboratories. In 1928, he established the Clinical Pathology Laboratory, known later as the Department of Laboratory Medicine (from 1960 to 1986). Dr. Luney was Secretary of the St. Joseph’s Hospital Nominating Committee from 1928 to 1930. From 1929 to 1961, he held the position of Clinical Laboratory Chief. Through experimentation on animals, Dr. Luney made great advances in blood transfusion techniques, and even pioneered a new blood transfusion apparatus, a “two-person multiple syringe” that allowed blood to flow directly from donor to patient. On March 19, 1945, Dr. Luney directed the opening of the Blood Bank Department at St. Joseph’s Hospital. He placed Sr. Leonarda Kelly, R. T. in charge of the department. Between 1941 and 1942, Dr. Luney was appointed the fourth President of the Ontario Association of Pathologists, a non-profit medical society committed to representing patients and pathologists, and promoting excellence in the practice of pathology. During his tenure at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Dr. Luney was a member of the First Library Committee (1931), Chief of Staff (1941-1943, 1952-1954), and a founding member of the Historical Committee (1950). He retired in 1961, after 34 years of medical service. In 1970, Dr. Luney established the Dr. F. W. Luney Fund, donating $5,000 for the purchase of supplies for the St. Joseph’s Hospital Medical Library. In addition to his work at both Victoria and St. Joseph’s, Dr. Luney established private pathology consulting services to smaller medical centres in St. Thomas (Ont.), Tillsonburg (Ont.), Chatham (Ont.), Sarnia (Ont.), and Brantford (Ont.). He was also an Associate Professor at the University of Western Ontario for 44 years. Dr. Luney died on February, 1987.

Hartleib, Sister Mary Anthony, 1924-2008

  • Person
  • February 10, 1924- June 23, 2008

Sister Mary Anthony Hartleib (nee Mary Anne Lenore) was born in Stratford, Ontario on February 10, 1924. She was the daughter of Charles Henry Hartleib and Loretta Durand. Her stepmother was Mary Hartleib of Waterloo, Ontario. Mary Anne Lenore Hartleib joined the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of London, Ontario and received the habit on July 2, 1965. She made her first vows on July 2, 1966 and her final vows on May 30, 1971 in the Chapel at Mount St. Joseph. She was given the religious name Sister Mary Anthony. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in art and theology at the University of Windsor in 1969, and then studied at Althouse College in London, Ontario. Sister Mary Anthony received a permanent teaching certificate in 1972, a supervisor’s certificate in art, and a teaching certificate in art and English. From 1970 until 1981, she supervised the art department at Mount St. Joseph Academy in London. She was appointed assistant bursar at Mount St. Joseph, but continued with art and the teaching of ceramics until 1985 when her art work took a new turn. Always interested in the spiritual, Sister Mary Anthony turned to iconography. She spent two years studying Chinese water colour painting, followed by three years of iconography. She was a scholar, a skilled teacher of art, and a passionate advocate of the way icons open the mystery of the sacred. Sister Mary Anthony became well known as an iconographer and maintained a studio in the Sisters’ residence after Mount St. Joseph Academy closed. For several years, she shared her knowledge of iconography with the seminarians at St. Peter’s Seminary in London. The community of the Sisters of St. Joseph moved to 485 Windermere Road in 2007, where Sister Mary Anthony occupied her own art studio. Three of her icons, including that of the Blessed Trinity, were placed in the Chapel at the new residence. After a very short illness, Sister Mary Anthony died in the care centre at the Sisters’ Residence on June 23, 2008. Her funeral Mass of Resurrection was celebrated in St. Joseph Chapel in the residence at 485 Windermere Road. Father Frank O’Connor of St. Peter’s Seminary was the main celebrant. Sister Mary Anthony was buried in St. Peter’s cemetery in London.

Kirwin, Sister Mary Leo, 1922-2015

  • Person
  • January 7, 1922-November 26, 2015

Sister Mary Leo Kirwin was born Mary Margaret Kirwin in Ingersoll, Ontario on January 7, 1922 to Leo Joseph Kirwin and Mae Henesey. Mary attended Sacred Heart School from 1936-1940 and Ingersoll Collegiate Institute from 1940-1942. She then completed her teacher training at London Normal School from 1941-1942. After earning her teaching certificate, she spent the summer of 1942 working in a munitions factory, but began teaching in September of that year. Her teaching career began at RCSS #2 in Clinton, Ontario. She then taught at Sacred Heart School in Ingersoll from 1944-1946, and later moved to St. Mary’s School from 1946-1947. On July 2, 1947, Mary Kirwin entered the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph and received the habit. She took the name Sister Mary Leo on January 3, 1948, and made her first vows on January 3, 1950. She took her final vows on January 3, 1953.

Sr. Mary Leo Kirwin worked as a teacher from 1950-1953 at the Holy Rosary School in London, Ontario. From 1953-1957, she served at this school as the principal. She moved to Simcoe to be a teacher and principal at St. Mary’s Catholic School from 1957-1961. During this time, Sr. Mary Leo also attended the University of Western Ontario and obtained her B.A. in 1958. From 1961-1965, she taught at St. Louis School, Riverside in Windsor. She remained in Windsor from 1965 to 1967, where she taught at F.J. Brennan Catholic High School. She then returned to London and became a teacher and head of the home economics department at Mount St. Joseph Academy from 1969-1983. While she was teaching in London, she graduated from the University of Toronto with an Honours Specialist in Home Economics in 1980.

In 1983, Sr. Mary Leo was called to move to Edmonton to serve as the General Superior of St. Joseph’s Convent and act as coordinator of Western Houses, a role in which she served until 1989. While living at the Edmonton Regional House in 1987, Sister Mary Leo became involved with the People In Need Shelter Society during a housing crisis. Along with Sister Alice Caswell and Sister Olga Barilko, she worked with disabled people. She also worked with the poor alongside Sister Esther Lucier. Her involvement grew and eventually the Society named a house for homeless men and women after her (the Kirwin Lucier House). From 1989-1991, she took up a new role at Elizabeth Place, a home for needy women in Edmonton. She was also involved with the Elizabeth Fry Society where she worked with prison women doing handiwork and visiting. In 1991, she returned to London, where she served as the general treasurer at Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse until 1998. In addition, she was on the local leadership council. Although she retired in 1998, Sr. Mary Leo Kirwin still provided relief for Sr. Veronica Cooke at Elaine Lucas Place from 1999-2001. The Elaine Lucas Place in London is a 45 bed residence for the homeless on Little Simcoe Street with which Sr. Mary Leo Kirwin was affiliated.

Sr. Mary Leo was involved in many committees throughout her life, including the Elizabeth Fry Society in Edmonton, L.I.F.T. Housing in London, and the Congregational bursary, donations, and strategic planning committees. She was also a community representative on the Red Cross Board.

One of her lasting contributions was her work with a low-income housing organization in Edmonton, the Edmonton Inner City Housing Society. The society opened its first project, a five-bedroom house in the McCauley neighbourhood and 30 years later, the year Sr. Mary Leo died, the same Edmonton Inner City Housing Society had grown to the point where it owned and managed more than 20 housing developments. These houses provided shelter for individuals and families, and supported 500 people in 300 housing units in inner city neighbourhoods.

Sr. Mary Leo also, as a result of visiting at Edmonton Women’s Prison, saw the need for post-incarceration housing for women. The Congregation bought a house, known as Elizabeth House, with a Sister serving as housemother. Later, they purchased another house called Tess’s House, with Sister Theresa Carmel Slavik serving as housemother for at risk young adults.

The Kirwin-Lucier House, which opened in 1993 in Edmonton, is a housing project of the Edmonton People in Need Shelter Society and provides a home for people with chronic mental disorders or substance abuse. It was named after Sisters Mary Leo Kirwin and Esther Lucier for their contributions to the society and its clients.

Sister Mary Leo was an expert at needlework, sewing of all kinds, quilting, upholstery, caning, and gardening. In 1976, her students at Mount St. Joseph Academy made an Olympic quilt which was presented to Prime Minister Trudeau. She continued making at least two quilts each year with a friend from the low cost housing development in London, until her death.

Sr. Mary Leo died November 26, 2015 in London, Ontario and is buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery in London, Ontario.

Kuntz, Sister Mary Lillian, 1935-2015

  • Person
  • December 30, 1935-October 23, 2015

Mary Lillian Kuntz was born in London, Ontario on December 30, 1935. She was the daughter of Edward J. Kuntz and Margaret H. Ward.

Mary Lillian attended St. Angela’s School in London from 1949-1950, and then Catholic Central High School in London from 1950-1953. She entered the Congregation on July 2, 1953 and received the habit and her religious name Dolores on January 3, 1954. She took her first vows on January 3, 1956 and her final vows on January 3, 1961. Sister Mary Lillian trained at London Teachers’ College from 1956-1957. Later, she attended the University of Windsor, obtaining her B.A. in 1965. This was followed by the completion of an M.A. in Educational Administration from Columbia University in New York in 1976. Almost a decade later, she completed a B.A. and J.C.L. in Canon Law from the University of Ottawa in 1985.

Sister Mary Lillian served as a teacher and principal in London from 1957-1972. She spent the summer of 1969 in Uganda, teaching mathematics to teachers. She then moved to Yellowknife, where she was principal at St. Patrick’s High School until 1977. During her time in the north, she also served as a bursar for the local religious community. She returned to London, and taught high school mathematics from 1978-1981. She then worked as an administrator at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse from 1981-1983.

Following this, Sister Mary Lillian studied canon law in Ottawa from 1983-1985, and then received several canonical appointments. She was the Associate Judge and substitute Defender of the Bond for the Vancouver Regional Tribunal, working through the Nelson, B.C. office in 1984. She then served as Judge and Defender of the Bond for the Nelson Marriage Tribunal after it became a distinct Diocesan Tribunal in 1985. She was appointed to the Disability Pension Committee for the Diocese of Nelson in 1985. In 1987, she was appointed Judge, Auditor and Notary on the Marriage Tribunal in Nelson. She held this position until 1993, when she also became the Director of the Marriage Tribunal. In 1996, she became the Director of the Nelson-Kamloops Interdiocesan Tribunal, still serving as a Judge and Auditor.

Sister Mary Lillian held other positions of service, including on the Diocesan Synod Steering Committee, the Diocesan Pastoral Council, the Diocesan Sexual Abuse Committee, and the Cathedral Liturgy Committee. She was the treasurer for the Sisters’ Council in the Diocese of Nelson. Sister Mary Lillian was also a world traveller.

Sister Mary Lillian died on October 23, 2015 in London Ontario and is buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery, in the same city.

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