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People and organizations
Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada

Assembly

  • Corporate body
  • 1990- 2009

Chapter meetings happened every four years and were the most official gatherings of the Sisters. A Chapter is the formal, decision making body of the congregation at which the leadership council is elected, and decisions are taken by the membership as a whole. Assemblies happened in the middle period between Chapters, in other words every two years. Assemblies were meant as a time to get together, to discuss decisions made at Chapters, to make or evaluate new potential decisions, and to prepare for major works to do at the next Chapter. This was also the time for celebration and prayer. Assembly meetings lasted for two days.

Assembly meetings were a necessary part of the congregation’s government structure. For every Assembly, a summary was written about what had been discussed, or questioned, or proposed during the meeting. The documentation was often accompanied by photos of participants.

Awards

  • Corporate body
  • 1999-2012

The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in London, Ontario, has received awards from external organizations recognizing their contributions and leadership, and for their significant contribution to Canadian communities and fellow Canadians. The Sisters of St. Joseph received the “Women of Distinction Lifetime Achievement Award” for more than 130 years of distinguished service. They received the “Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal” for persons who have made a significant contribution to Canada to their community or to their fellow Canadians. This medal was created to mark the 50th anniversary of the accession of Her Majesty to the throne. Two Sisters received the “Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal” in 2012 for their anti-poverty advocacy, community leadership, and support of affordable housing. The Sisters of St. Joseph received the “Leading Women, Building Communities” award for their exceptional community leadership to improve the lives of women and girls in Ontario.

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.

Community Days

  • Corporate body
  • 1988-2004

The “Community Days”, unlike the “Assembly” days, were not a necessary part of the congregation’s government. These gatherings had a non-formal nature and were meant for coming together for reflection. A Community Day lasted for one day, during which the Sisters met for conversations, mealtimes, and pleasant evenings. There were no formal reports about meetings or discussions. The series includes several years of Community Days records which differ by topics discussed.

During the Community Days of 1988-1990, the following topics were discussed: principles for understanding power, types of formal power, impact of experience on decision making, modes of religious life, and the ability to reflect critically on one’s own experience. The details and statements of a professional caretaker are provided, including such discussions as the nature and meaning of depressions, the sensitivity to the needs of others, and the origins of emotional difficulties that one may carry throughout the life. The Community Days of 1993-1994 included the following topics: communal graced history which is important “ so a person or a community can decide with the movement towards the Trinity and resist the self-centred movement”; steps towards selecting a leadership; understanding of the nature, aspects and models of church; reflections on charisms; and reflections on the nature and identity of religious life in Canada. The Community Days of 1999 discussed the experience of Chapter meeting; and training to understand the stages of community development. The Community Days of 2000 included morning prayer; a case study about child poverty; and reports on activities, including an article on destructive cycles in organizations.

Community Liturgy

  • Corporate body
  • 1958-2007

As a congregation, there is a significant focus placed on community liturgy and both independent and guided prayer. Prayer is central to the Sisters’ lives of quietude and contemplation — a means to meet God in silence and contemplate the ways in which one has encountered him in their daily interactions. Prayer is not only performed independently, but collectively through daily celebration of the Eucharist (also referred to as Mass). A broader example of community prayer and celebration is performed before or during major events — a type of prayer known as indulgences. While the historical roots of indulgence run deep, in the modern day these prayers are said as a means of giving special attention and gathering community efforts as communicated by the Vatican. They serve as an act of bestowing goodwill and blessing during new, unfamiliar, or trying times. While prayer and quiet contemplation are central to the lives of the Sisters, public service and maintaining a strong bond within the communities they live in is also of great importance. Along with providing service to the people in their community, the Sisters produced booklets and newsletters as means to share their reflections and particular focuses within the community, and practice solidarity in faith and worship more generally.

Diocese of London

  • Corporate body
  • 1910-1979

A diocese is a level of unit of administration for a Church or religious organization, usually led by a high-ranking church official, such as a bishop. The Diocese of London was established on February 21, 1856 under the guidance of Bishop Pierre-Adolphe Pinsoneault. In 1867, Bishop Pinsoneault was succeeded by Bishop John Walsh. At the request of Bishop Walsh, five Sisters from Toronto answered the call to spearhead the education of children and care for the elderly in the London area, as the population of London was growing due to immigration, primarily of Irish Catholics, to the diocese. The Sisters went on to establish the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada in London in December 11, 1868. The Sisters of St. Joseph served the community through their involvement in health services, education and engagement in religious missions. The fifth Bishop of the Diocese, Bishop Michael Francis Fallon, was a strong supporter of Catholic education, and founded St. Peter’s Seminary and also helped support the Women’s College of the London area, Brescia College. Missionary work was an important part of the work that the Diocese engaged in and organized many committees and commissions. They presided and oversteered the financial and admirative aspects of these missions so that they were both successful and financially sound. In February 1974, Sister Mary Brendan Flynn and Sister Teresa Carmel visited Labrador at the request of Bishop Peter Sutton of the Labrador-Schefferville Diocese. The Sisters participated in Bishop Gerald Emmett Carter’s call upon clergy, religious men and women and the laity to participate in the Second Synod of the Diocese of London in 1966-1969 to restructure and address church reform to include active participation from church laity. Currently the Diocese of London comprises of southwestern counties of Ontario including Middlesex, Elgin, Norfolk, Oxford, Perth, Huron, Lambton, Kent and Essex Counties.

Diocese of London - Sisters' Council

  • Corporate body
  • 1966-1982, 2006

The London Diocesan Sisters’ Council was composed of elected or appointed Sisters from each community represented in the Diocese. Meetings for the Sisters’ Council were presided over by an Executive Committee comprised of a president, vice-president, corresponding secretary, treasurer, and recording secretary. This committee met prior to each Council meeting to prepare an agenda for each meeting. The Sisters’ Council elected two members per year to be members on the Board of Governors of the Diocesan Council. These religious communities, in 1975, included the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Sisters of the Holy Names, the Society of the Sacred Heart, the Ursulines of Chatham, the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph, the Grey Sisters of the Immaculate Conception, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the Polish Ursuline Sisters, the Sisters of the Holy Family, the Felician Sisters, the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa, the Carmelite Sisters of Saint Teresa, the Misericordia Sisters, the Ursuline Sisters of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus, the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, and the Sisters Servants of Mary Immaculate. The Sisters’ Council strived to assume a more effective role in the Church’s ministry by studying the true meaning and focus of religious life, to establish a means of open communication with one another and the church, to be informed about the Apostolic needs of the diocese and to cooperate with priests and lay deaneries, and to stimulate a concern for contemporary issues. The Sisters’ Council accomplished this by meeting three times a year, writing committee reports and constitutions, keeping in touch with priests and lay deaneries as well as by keeping the community informed with regular newsletters and events.

Diocese of London School of Christ

  • Corporate body
  • 1939-1964

The Monsignor W. T. Flannery Radio and Television Broadcasts, known as the “School of Christ,” was a radio and television program that aired from 1939 to 1963. Founded by Monsignor W.T. Flannery, the radio broadcast was transmitted from the Chapel of the Sacred Heart Convent in London, Ontario encouraged by Sister Constance Dunn, as General Superior. The program made its debut on CFPL Radio in London, Ontario, on December 3, 1939. Named after a phrase from the writings of St. Augustine, the program’s stated purpose was to educate people about the true Catholic faith as a way of combating anti-Catholic prejudice. The 30-minute long program aired on Sunday afternoons and consisted of Msgr. Flannery providing catechetical instruction and a question and answer segment with schoolchildren. There were also musical performances by the “School of Christ Choristers” formed by Sister Mary Margaret Childs. The School of Christ Choristers consisted of a senior choir, of women aged 18 years and older, directed by Sister Mary Margaret Childs from 1939 to 1963, as well as a Junior Choir, known as the “Little Radio Choir,” composed of Grade 6 to 8 students, later directed by Sister Marie Brebeuf Beninger. Originally a local broadcast, the School of Christ became syndicated in Toronto, Chatham, and Windsor in 1940. Soon after, it extended into the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York. At one point, the program was estimated to have had a potential listening audience of 10 million people, many of them non-Catholics. Starting in the mid-1950s, the programs were taped in advance and broadcast on CFPL-TV until 1963, when Msgr. Flannery retired.

Members of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph played an instrumental role in the formation and operation of the program. Sister Constance Dunn encouraged the formation of the program during her term as the Congregation’s General Superior. Sisters Marie Brebeuf Beninger, Mary Margaret Childs, and Maureen Dalton participated in the direction of the show’s choirs, while Sister Callistus Arnsby provided accompaniment. Although the primary forum for these choirs to perform was through radio and television, they also gave annual live concerts in a variety of venues, including London’s Grand Theatre, the auditorium at H.B. Beal Technical School, and Toronto’s Massey Hall Theatre in 1964.

Donations Committee

  • Corporate body
  • 1995-2017

The Sisters of St. Joseph have historically, provided financial support to a variety of worthy causes. These have included educational bursaries as well as donations to charitable organizations and projects around the world. The Sisters’ vow of poverty mandates that they do not have personal ownership to distribute congregational funds, and therefore committees were established to assist in the allocation of charitable resources. The congregation seeks to support groups that work in the area of systemic change, which means groups that are about changing the whole way of “doing business” in our world, whether that be in the area of human rights, getting at the root causes of poverty, environmental justice, small projects in the developing world that foster self-sufficiency, or initiatives that address the position of women amongst the most poor.

The London Foundation was created to provide charitable receipts to donors to the congregation. Later, a sum of money was put into the Foundation so that the Sisters could disburse charitable donations from that fund. Prior to 2000, charitable giving was overseen by the General Treasurer, while a Bursary Committee handled educational grants.
The Sisters of St. Joseph Donations Committee was proposed by Sister Margo Ritchie in October 1999 and approved by the General Council in November 1999, to research, assess, and ultimately decide which requests for charitable financial aid would be supported by the Sisters. The Committee first met in January 2000. It has had a steady membership of Sisters, who served (starting in 2002) for a three-year term with possible renewal. The Sisters sitting on the committee in 2000 established guidelines for the decision-making process. These included favoring long-term projects for systemic change, groups that worked well with others, using annual reports to monitor the use of congregational-donated funds, not serving as the major financial support of any group, reconsidering each request annually, and favoring groups without a great deal of public funding or high levels of public awareness. These were grouped under five categories for reporting purposes, with targets for the allocation of available funds to each: child poverty (20%), women (15%), emergency relief (5%), Third World projects (20%), and Canada (40%). The committee met five times a year, alternating between Windsor and London. They made recommendations to the Leadership for final approval.

In 2009, the Sisters invited six members from the wider community to review the process of their annual donations. These six individuals possessed both knowledge of the congregation and experience in seeking or granting funds. Following this process, updated priorities and selection criteria for funding were established and shared with those seeking funding, and these guidelines remained in place until 2017.

The Children’s Aid Society (CAS) Bursary program was created in 2002 at the request of the CAS for a bursary to support the post-secondary education of youth in care (who lacked familial financial support). Beginning with four grants in 2002, the program grew to more than 28 grants in 2007, and The Sisters of St. Joseph were joined by other funding partners in providing financial support.

In 2009, Sisters Caroline Bering and Loretta Manzara proposed, and successfully executed, the first Pipe Organ Bursary, continuing a longstanding tradition of support for musical education by the Sisters. This bursary provided $1,000 to pay for 12 one-hour lessons on the pipe organ with supplementary instruction in Catholic liturgical music resources, over the course of one year. Eligible candidates had a minimum grade nine piano certification and completed an interview and audition process. The bursary was advertised within London parishes, the University of Western Ontario, and to London-area piano and organ teachers, and the candidates were adjudicated by the two founding Sisters. The bursary was sufficiently successful in its first two years to be awarded once again in 2013.

From at least 1998 onward, the Bursary Committee (later renamed the Educational Bursary Committee) of the Sisters of St. Joseph provided varying amounts of financial support (often in the range of $1,000-$2,000) for male and female lay persons attending ministry-related graduate programs at a variety of institutions of higher education in Canada and abroad. The committee was chaired by the General Treasurer of the religious community, who handled much of the correspondence relating to applications for funding. The programs pursued by students included fields such as practical nursing, business administration, and social work, as well as ministry and spirituality, but all applicants identified a desire to pursue these fields in conjunction with ministry-related purposes.

The Sisters of St. Joseph Bursary at St. Clair College in Windsor, Ontario was created in the early 2000s with a portion of a bequest left to the Sisters with instructions that it be used to alleviate child poverty. The portion of the bequest set aside for a college bursary was augmented with money received from the sale of the Sisters’ Queens Avenue property, making a total $100,000 donation which was matched by St. Clair College. The interest on the $200,000 fund allowed for a bursary of $500-$1,000 to be given each year. The bursary was awarded to single mothers studying at St. Clair College, and applied toward their tuition costs in the upcoming semester. A small committee of Sisters sat on the selection committee.

In 2012, four formerly separate congregations in Hamilton, London, Peterborough and Pembroke, amalgamated to form one new congregation. After amalgamation, the congregation moved to consolidated financial statements, one budget timeline, a common chart of accounts, and one charity returns form. Since amalgamation, the original London Donation Committee was maintained. This committee continued to review applications from groups which carried out work locally, nationally and globally, and made recommendations to Leadership for the distribution of funds specifically set aside in the London Foundation to be donated. Bursaries continued to be administered separately.
A donations review committee was set up in 2014 which met four times to discuss how to make donations in a unified manner. The review committee made recommendations that were approved at the Congregational Leadership Circle (CLC) meeting in November 2014. The CLC established a Central Funding Committee (CFC) for donations. The committee was composed of two members from each of the four originally separate congregations, as well as the General Treasurer and two members of the CLC as ex-officio members. The CFC’s mandate was to review requests for larger local donations and all national or international grant applications in keeping with the Constitutions, the call of the Gospel, and the objectives of the congregation. Funding requests were supported in keeping with established priorities and Canada Revenue Agency guidelines. Local Donation Committees were established in London, Hamilton, Peterborough and Pembroke comprised of at least three Sisters as well as an Associate/Companion. These committees meet at least twice a year to review requests for local donations. Their mandate includes support of the poor, women and children in need, food banks, and housing for people in need. Donations included funding from the congregation and through the Luke 4 Foundation with initial capital from the former Peterborough congregation.

In 2015, a committee was established which met in June, October and November to create the terms of reference for the Central Funding Committee (CFC) and the Local Donation Committees. Following the election of the CLC in 2016, the CFC welcomed the participation of an Associate/Companion.

Between 2015-2016, most national funding was allocated to address issues concerning poverty, Indigenous peoples, and the environment. Global funding was allocated in the areas of women’s issues.

A meeting at the Hamilton site in October 2017 was held to review CFC processes and priorities. This meeting resulted in changes to the funding structure and funding level ranges for grants were introduced. National priorities were determined to be poverty reduction, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, and environmental action, with international priorities continuing to be empowerment of women.

Beginning in 2017, the London Donations Committee mandate was redefined to focus its donations primarily on groups within its geographical area. National and international grant applications were now the work of the Central Funding Committee. The London Donations Committee considered applications from groups in the London area and in areas in the west and north of Canada where the Sisters ministered. The London Donations Committee decreased its funding level range and revised its three previous priorities to target people in need and the care of the earth. The committee also outlined its expectations for grantees. The committee wanted to fund projects that built and sustained relationships; promoted systemic change; sought funds in conjunction with other funders; built on community input and needs assessment; demonstrated achievable outcomes; and required minimal administrative costs.

Ferris, Sister Margaret

  • 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.

Fontbonne Hall

  • Corporate body
  • 1953-1967

Fontbonne Hall, located at 534 Queens Avenue in London, Ontario, was a residence for the Sisters of St. Joseph from May 1951 to September 1953. The building, which was built by William Spencer in 1856 and had previously served as a former Knights of Columbus residence, was purchased to provide more room for the Sisters who had been living at Sacred Heart. On September 11, 1953, all children were transferred from Mount St. Joseph Orphanage to Fontbonne Hall due to changes in government policy that required improved boarding care. A total of 41 children were moved. As a result of this policy change, children under the age of two were placed back with the agency that had referred them. The building was officially opened on December 20, 1953. Fontbonne Hall was more like a foster home than an orphanage, as the new government policies required. In addition, the Sisters operated a Day Nursery School at this location which was licensed from 1954 until 1965 for the children of working families.

In 1963, the decision was made to change Fontbonne Hall’s focus to care for emotionally disturbed children in order to fulfill a growing community need. In June 1965, the Fontbonne Hall Board disbanded and in October 1965, the orphanage came under the direction of Madame Vanier Children’s Services which operated under the Catholic Charities. In June of 1967, the Sisters of St. Joseph withdrew. In 1968, Fontbonne Hall became the first private treatment centre licensed in the province of Ontario under the children’s mental health services legislation. In June of 1972, the contract at Fontbonne Hall was terminated, but the residents of Madame Vanier Children’s Services were allowed to stay until their new quarters were ready. On August 4, 1972, the new facility located at 871 Trafalgar Street was opened for the children’s care, and Fontbonne Hall was closed. The building at 534 Queens Avenue was reopened by the Sisters of St. Joseph under a new program called Internos, which served as a group home for teenage girls.

Formation

  • Corporate body
  • 1868-2012

In order to become a Sister of St. Joseph, a woman had to complete the formation process. She spent at least six months as a postulant when she first entered the convent. She then became a novice and spent two years in this position. During the first year, known as the canonical year, she could take no outside work. She studied her vows, the charism, and the life of the Sisters of St. Joseph. In the second year, she could possibly do some outside ministry, but not fill a professional role such as a nurse. After the first two and a half years, she took her first vows. After this, she could have a ministry. The first vows were considered temporary vows. The next three to six years were spent in the Juniorate. After this, she took her final vows and became a professed Sister.

The Tertianship was an opportunity to regroup and reaffirm for a professed Sister who had been in a Ministry. It could only be taken once and took place in a one-month period. Tertianship was not part of the formation process, although one could view it as part of ongoing formation. After a while, the Tertianship process died out and all Sisters were encouraged to study the works of the Vatican Council.

Vocation is the process of encouraging a woman to heed the call to enter religious life.

Gagner, Sister Eveline

  • 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.

Galahad Hospital, Alta.

  • Corporate body
  • 1927-1978

In 1927, following the Sisters of St. Joseph's exit from Stettler, Alberta, Archbishop Henry Joseph O'Leary decided that a hospital was greatly needed in Galahad, Alberta. His request for one was granted by the General Superior and her Council, and in 1927, the Sisters of St. Joseph arrived in Galahad. At this time, the only building available to the Sisters was a small two story teacherage. The building, which had no plumbing, consisted of only six rooms and came with little to no equipment that could be used for medical purposes. The Sisters were thus frequently required to improvise and make-do with what was available. During these early years in Galahad, the government provided no financial aid to the Sisters; consequently, they depended on funding provided to them by the community and via bank loans.

Throughout 1927, increasing numbers of settlers arrived in Galahad, Alberta. At times, this led to crowding within the existing hospital and to a heavier workload for the Sisters. Sister Jane Frances O'Rourke and Mother Patricia Coughlin are said to have played crucial roles during this time. Due to the growing role of the hospital and because of space constraints, plans for a new hospital building were soon underway.

In 1927, Mr. Hugh Taylor, (the sole real estate agent in Galahad), offered the Sisters four and a half acres of land on which to build their new hospital. Following this acquisition of land, bids were tendered and the C. Gordon Company of Vegreville won the construction job. The Wheatland Municipality contributed $2,500 to construction costs. The new building, which consisted of two stories, a brick interior and large grounds, was officially opened by His Grace Archbishop O'Leary on September 3rd, 1928.

In 1932, the average number of patients was 20, and most were from the towns of Galahad, Forestburg, and Alliance. The first doctors to work in the hospital were Dr. Maynes and Dr. A.J. Cook. In 1947, Sister Loyola Donovan became Administrator and Sister Genevieve Casey became Superior of the Galahad community.

In 1953, having conferred with the community, the Sisters advised that a new building was once again needed. They requested that a new structure be built - one that could house 45 beds and a 10 bed bassinet nursery. In 1953, having won the contract, Burns and Dutton started work on the project with Mr. Alex Fellows in the role of construction superintendent. The cost of the new building was estimated at $250,000 and was funded through a long-term loan from the Bank of Montreal in Forestburg. In September 1954, the new building was officially opened and blessed by Monsignor Carleton.

In 1955, renovations to the old hospital were undertaken. Upon completion of the renovations, the building became living accommodations for the Sisters. During this time, the Chapel was also relocated nearer to the new hospital and later blessed by Archbishop MacDonald in May, 1955.

In 1962, an Advisory Board was established that included local business men and district farmers. This Board was meant to advise and assist the Sisters with matters regarding the hospital as well as provincial and municipal affairs.

On August 4th, 1973, St. Joseph's Hospital in Galahad was granted full accreditation. Toward the end of the 1970s, many physicians were leaving rural practice and vacancies created by retirees were not being filled. In the meantime, the Sisters also faced staffing problems. Since Vatican II, more professions and apostolates had become available to Sisters which resulted in a decline of health care apostolates. All of these changes led the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph to re-evaluate their ownership of St. Joseph's Hospital, Galahad.

On August 31st, 1979, the Sisters of St. Joseph gave up their ownership of St. Joseph's Hospital, Galahad. Thereafter, ownership was transferred by the Department of the Ministry of Health to Flagstaff-Hughendan Hospital District #55. During the period the Sisters administered the hospital, it grew from 23 beds in 1945 to 40 beds in 1978.

General Secretary

  • Corporate body
  • 1995-2007

The General Secretary is a member of the Leadership Council. From 1999 to 2007, the General Secretary was Sister Pat Hogan. At the end of Sr. Pat Hogan’s term, Sister Jean Moylan replaced her and served until 2012. The Leadership Council is the decision making body of the Congregation. The positions on the Council comprise the General Superior, General Secretary, General Treasurer, and two General Councillors. Sisters are elected to the Leadership Council at Chapter meetings, held every four years. Every two years, midway between Chapter meetings, an Assembly meeting is held.

The Leadership Council forms the local leadership for the religious community. In 2012, the London Congregation amalgamated with the Congregations in Hamilton, Peterborough and Pembroke to form a new Congregation called the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada. As a result, the Leadership Council is now drawn from members of the four formerly separate Congregations.

The Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada was an umbrella organization formed in 1965. It comprised the Congregations in Toronto, Peterborough, Hamilton, London, Pembroke and Sault Ste. Marie.

The records in this series were created by the formerly separate Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in the Diocese of London.

Guatemala Annals

  • Corporate body
  • 1963-1978

In October 1963, Sisters Francis Xavier Ruth, Marie Garnier (Joan) McMahon and Bertille Riordan started a mission in Guatemala. They traveled to Teculután to establish a school. A construction committee was formed to buy a plot of land belonging to the Casteñeda-Rossal family called “Peretete for the school and convent. The town gave half of the land to the Sisters and Don Carlos Piaz of the construction committee provided them with the other half in order for the school to be established. The Sisters raised funds to pay for the construction of the buildings. The school opened on January 18, 1965. It was officially inaugurated and given the name “Colegio San José” on March 19, 1965. The school offered both elementary and secondary programs and was fully approved by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education. Education was also extended through the airwaves, where literacy programs were broadcast. Evangelization work occurred through catechetics in the schools, the local parish, and through radio programs. In the 1970s, a beca (Spanish for “scholarship”) program was created. This program collected donations in-order-to help fund children’s education.

There were several Sisters involved with the Guatemala Mission, including: Marie Garnier (Joan) McMahon (1963-1967, 1968-1972); Francis Xavier Ruth (1963-1968, 1971-1974); Bertille Riordan (1963-1966); Loretta Ford (1966-1973); Aloysia Fischer (1972-1976); Dorothy Winfelder (1972); Ruth Ditner (1974-1975); Mary O’ Sullivan (1974-1979); Madeleine Graf (1975-1979); Diane Marchetti (1976); Anastasia Ward (1968-1970, 1974-1978), Margaret Dyett (1968); Francis Anne Ayotte (1968); and Gabriela Hinca (1966-1969, 1970-1975).

Several other projects were initiated in addition to the school. In 1969, a dentistry clinic was built. The clinic also provided a space for Sister nurses to treat the sick. Several of the Sisters also worked in the local clinics. In 1977, Sister Mary O’ Sullivan started the Nutritional Centre in order to help children with malnutrition receive care. A focus was also placed on pregnant mothers, offering them nutritional advice to ensure the health of their babies. The Nutritional Centre officially opened on August 22, 1978. In 1976, an earthquake devastated Guatemala. Restoration programs commenced shortly after. The Sisters lent the football field of the school in order to have homes built for the 200 workers who had lost their homes during the disaster. The Sisters in Hamilton started “Operation Guatemala” to raise funds and send supplies to the devastated country.

Sister Aloysia Fischer was responsible for the organization and administration of the Christian Children’s Fund, which was an American program, from 1972-1976. She also administered the Guatemala Education Bursary (C.O.G.E.B.) in 1975. This bursary program was created by Bishop Reding of the Hamilton Diocese. He wanted to start a program similar to the Christian Children’s Fund but with Canadian and Diocesan roots. The program determined that participating children must go to school either at Colegio San José or at the local school; that mothers must attend one hour of cooking, one hour of sewing, and one hour of nutrition classes per month; and that the families receive financial assistance to help with school costs. Sister Madeleine Graf later administered this program from 1977-1979.

The Sisters undertook other programs such as bringing portable water and electricity to poor areas. The Sisters and priests brought running water to El Jute and Gúijo in 1978, and to the small village of Los Palmares in 1979.

The mission formally ended in November 1979 when the Sisters returned to Canada. That year, they relinquished control of the Colegio San José and the Nutritional Centre to the Capuchin Sisters of the Third Order. Although they were no longer directly involved in the mission, the Sisters continued to send funds to Guatemala into the 2000s. Several Sisters went back to celebrate various milestones. For instance, Sisters Madeleine Graf and Marie Garnier (Joan) McMahon returned to Teculután in 2005 for the 40th anniversary of the Colegio San José.

Hartleib, Sister Mary Anthony

  • 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.

Heart-Links

  • Corporate body
  • 1994-

Heart-Links began in Sept. 1994, as a community-sponsored ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph. The ministry grew out of the Sisters’ work in Zana Valley, Peru (1962 to 1994, when the order closed the mission). In 1994, when Sister Janet Zadorsky returned to Canada, she began as a way for the Sisters and others to continue links with Peru and expand the work the Sisters started.

The first board for Heart-Links met in 1995, and eventually Pat Mailloux took over accounts and Sister Marie Celine organized artistic work and sales. On November 1, 2002, Heart-Links was incorporated under the Canada Corporation Act, and on January 1, 2003, it received charitable registration from Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. At this time, Heart-Links became a secular, autonomous organization.

The Sisters and other volunteers raised funds through Heart-Links for Peru via concerts and bazaars. Each year beginning in 1996, an Awareness trip took volunteers to visit the work and communities in Peru supported by Heart-Links. In 2014, Heart-Links celebrated its 20th anniversary.

Over the years Heart-Links in Peru has supported communal kitchens in Zana, Aviacion, Nueva Rica, and Mocupe, a music group in Chiclayo, a dance group in Zana, school breakfast programs, special needs schools in Mocupe and Zana, a school for needy in Zana, a bakery in Reque, and the construction of a new communal kitchen in Zana, among others.

Hellmuth College

  • Corporate body
  • 1869-1976

Hellmuth College was originally granted by the Crown to the English Church Corporation. The Anglican Bishop Hellmuth directed the building of a young ladies’ college which opened September 23, 1869. The college went bankrupt, and the land where Hellmuth College was situated was put up for sale and subsequently purchased by the Sisters of St. Joseph of London on June 10, 1899. A year later, on April 29, 1900, the property was blessed and the name was changed to Mount St. Joseph. In 1900, approximately 108 school age children moved from Mount Hope to Hellmuth College, and the site also became an orphanage. On April 3, 1914, the Sisters moved to Sacred Heart Convent after its purchase from the Religious of the Sacred Heart. After the move, Mount St. Joseph became exclusively a home for orphans, and the remaining children at Mount Hope were moved to Mount St. Joseph in 1914. There were as many as 370 children cared in the orphanage at any time. Mount St. Joseph Orphanage had a fire on April 14, 1925, which was attributed to defective wiring, however only the roof was lost. The orphans were moved from Mount St. Joseph to Fontbonne Hall in 1953. In 1967, Fontbonne Hall came under the direction of Madame Vanier Services of London and the Sisters withdrew. In 1954, the Sisters built a new Motherhouse next to the old Mount St. Joseph building. The former orphanage building was renamed Fatima Hall, and became the home of the Mount St. Joseph Academy, a private girls’ school, from 1954 until 1959 until a new wing for the school was added to the new Motherhouse building. The building was also used for a Kindergarten and pre-Kindergarten which ran from 1954 until 1975. The building was also used from 1957-1967, the Fatima Hall High School and Aspirancy was founded for girls to introduce them to religious life. The former orphanage building was demolished on May 28, 1976.

History

  • Corporate body
  • 1925-2014

The Sisters of St. Joseph congregation began in Le Puy, France in 1650 when six women joined together to offer their lives to those in need. By 1683, they had expanded the congregation to Gap, St. Vallier and Vienne. The women devoted their time to caring for the sick, the aging, orphans, the poor, and the imprisoned. During the French Revolution, the convents were suppressed, and many Sisters were arrested and imprisoned, including Mother St. John Fontbonne. After the French Revolution in 1808, Mother St. John Fontbonne re-established the congregation in Lyon, France and in 1863 many Sisters were sent to North America, where the first congregation, Carondelet, was established in St. Louis, Missouri, with the help of Mother Delphine Fontbonne. She later went on to establish the congregation in Toronto, Ontario in 1851. This was followed by the founding of the Hamilton congregation in 1852, the London congregation in 1868, the Peterborough congregation in 1890, and the Pembroke congregation in 1921.

The Sisters of St. Joseph still flourishes today, and in 2012 four of the six Congregations, Hamilton, London, Peterborough, and Pembroke, joined together to become the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada. The Sisters’ still make it their mission to reflect “a profound love of God and of neighbour without distinction”. Today, the Sisters of St. Joseph can be found worldwide in over 54 countries and continue to respond to the needs of others.

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