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People and organizations
Ontario Religion

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.

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.

Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse

  • Corporate body
  • 1953-2007

The third Mother House for the Sisters of St. Joseph in London was in the former Hellmuth Ladies’ College, built by Bishop Isaac Hellmuth. This ladies’ college had 140 pupils with 100 of them boarders, including Charlotte Johnson, sister of poet Pauline Johnson. It was formally opened on Sept. 23, 1869 by HRH Prince Arthur, third son of Queen Victoria who became 10th Governor General of Canada. Hellmuth Ladies’ College stood like a stately home of England in a park with the city in the distance and country all around. There were Venetian glass doors, chandeliers, polished floors, wide corridors and a broad staircase. Ann Mills was the first principal of Hellmuth College from 1869-1872, and a chapel built in 1877 named St. Anne’s chapel in her honor stood on a summit to the left of the driveway.

Sadly, Hellmuth Ladies’ College went bankrupt and the Sisters purchased the property on June 10, 1899, opening their residence, novitiate and orphanage and renaming it Mount St. Joseph The formal opening took place on April 29, 1900. A procession several miles long including school children, clergy and church members made their way to the grounds from the Bishop’s palace and church for this grand occasion. Mount St. Joseph was both a convent and home for school-aged orphans until the Sisters moved to Sacred Heart Convent in 1914. After this, the building was used solely as an orphanage, with infants and pre-school children also cared for. The orphanage eventually stopped taking infants who were moved to St. Joseph’s Hospital Children’s Dept. Orphan children over two years of age were moved to Fontbonne Hall on Queens Avenue in 1953, and in 1967 Madame Vanier Services took over the care of the children. St. Anne’s chapel was torn down in 1925, and its bricks used to make repairs on the main building after a fire in 1925. A new chapel, also named St. Anne’s chapel, was built by the Sisters in 1909 and later demolished in 1976.

The need for a new Mother House for the Sisters living at Sacred Heart Convent was apparent by 1940, when a building committee was formed, presided over by Reverend Mother Constance Dunn. Eventually, a new building was designed and planned by Reverend Mother Margaret Coughlin. The sod turning took place on October 15, 1950, and construction began on October 21, 1951, with the building of a new chapel, Immaculate Conception chapel, beginning on January 3, 1953. The professed sisters moved to the old Hellmuth Ladies’ College building from Sacred Heart Convent on September 23, 1953, and the Generalate and Novitiate moved to the completed wings of the new building on November 3, 1953. The formal opening was on June 20, 1954, attended by Bishop John C. Cody and 5,000 members of the public. The new Mother House was also named Mount St. Joseph.

Mount St. Joseph overlooks the Thames River. It is constructed of limestone with wood-trim in a grey-green shade. The central tower with its simple cross can be seen for miles, and extending from this tower are the wings of the building. It took two years and eight months to build. The architects were Watt and Tillman of London, and the General Contractor was Anglin-Norcross Ontario Ltd. The marble for the Immaculate Conception Chapel was supplied by T. Carli-Petrucci Ltd. Of Montreal, the woodwork by Globe Furniture Co. of Waterloo, and the marble and terrazzo in the main entrance on first floor main corridors by V. D’Ambrosio & Co. Ltd., Toronto.

The building had reception parlours with crystal chandeliers from the old Mount St. Joseph (Hellmuth Ladies’ College) building, a library, a reception hall with marble pillars, floor and walls. The mosaic ceiling of the chapel was designed by Count Alexander Svobodo, a member of the Conn Arts Studio in Toronto. The floor, walls and columns are of marble, as is the altar which is a solid piece of green St. Denis marble weighing 4,600 pounds. The kneelers and statues are also of marble. The stained-glass windows in the nave and sanctuary were made in Florence Italy and designed by Rodolfo Fanfani of the firm Guido Polloni. The organ is a Casavant two-manual organ, first installed at Sacred Heart Convent. It was rebuilt and slightly enlarged upon installation in the new chapel in 1953.

The grounds, landscaped by Gordon Culham, contain many beautiful trees and shrubs and a rose garden, as well as a playing field and four tennis courts. The grotto on the south end of the grounds is a replica of the grotto at Lourdes. It was built in 1954 by parishioners of Kingsbridge led by their pastor, Fr Henri Van Vynckt. It has a reproduction of the statue of Our Lady based on the original at Lourdes, and a statue of the kneeling figure of St. Bernadette. It contains stones from each of grottoes of the world in its stonework (Lourdes, Fatima, La Salette). Separated from the grotto by a small bridge, was Medaille House which opened in 1969, and was used for retreats.

The former Mount St. Joseph (Hellmuth Ladies’ College) building served several purposes after the orphanage was moved. A Kindergarten and pre-kindergarten ran from 1954 to 1975 for ages 4-6 years in the basement of its chapel for children who lived outside London. The building was renamed Fatima Hall High School and Aspirancy in 1957. This initiative was started by Mother Margaret Coughlin in London and at Edmonton Regional House. The Aspirancy provided spiritual and academic education for girls interested in religious life in grades 9-12 - ran from 1957 to 1967. The building also housed laundry and maintenance facilities.

In 1955, the second, third and fourth floors were added to the Novitiate wing. From 1958 to 1959, a new Academy wing and the east wing of the Juniorate were added. In 1961, there were fourth floor additions to the southeast and northeast wings. In 1968, Ignatia Hall wing was opened as an infirmary and residence for the senior sisters. It also housed Generalate offices and the Medaille Program Centre, which was located on the ground floor.

A music school had started at Sacred Heart Convent in the early 1920s. With the move to the new Mount St. Joseph, this music school fell under the principalship of Sr. Callistus Arnsby, and was renamed St. Joseph’s School of Music. Three music studios were set up in the old Mount St. Joseph (Hellmuth Ladies’ College) building and later moved to the new building. The music school taught to the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music exam requirements and gave piano, violin, singing and music theory lessons. It amalgamated with the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music on the university campus in 1982.

The girls’ school which had been at Sacred Heart Convent moved to Mount St. Joseph in 1953, and to its own new wing in 1958. The school was both a boarding and day school. Known as Mount St. Joseph Academy, it provided education to over 3,000 young women until it closed in 1985.

In 1975, patients and their relatives from the transplant program at University Hospital were given accommodation at Mount St. Joseph. After the Academy closed, the third and fourth floor of its wing became known as the Guest Wing, accommodating up to 75 guests who could take meals in the Sisters’ dining room. The wing also was used for St. Joseph’s Health Care Centre. The Guest Wing program closed in 2005.

On April 20 1976, the old Mount St. Joseph (Hellmuth Ladies’ College) building demolition began. Ellis Don Construction completed work on a new laundry, maintenance facilities and pool on Feb. 22, 1977. The pool was used by the Ursulines, Seminarians, Sisters, Academy students, and patients from St. Mary’s Hospital.

On December 8, 2005, the property was sold to Ivest Properties and London Property Corporation and leased to Retirement Residences Real Estate Trust (REIT).

St. Joseph's Hospital, Chatham, Ont.

  • Corporate body
  • 1890-1993

In 1890 a meeting was held between Reverend Paul O.F.M of St. Joseph’s Parish Chatham, Reverend Mother Ignatia Campbell, and Mother Aloysia Nigh, along with some of the prominent doctors of Chatham. They decided that the community was in need of a hospital and the sisters agreed to run it. A boarding house, formerly the Salvation Army Barracks, was leased until funds could be secured for a new hospital to be built. The hospital was officially opened in its temporary quarters on October 15, 1890 with Mother Aloysia as its head, assisted by Sisters Francis and Martha. Construction began at the hospital’s long-time site of 519 King Street West on the Thames River with the laying of the cornerstone in 1891. Construction was completed in 1892. Over the years, wings were added onto the hospital to accommodate the growing community of Chatham and, therefore, the growing demand for hospital services.

In 1972, the amalgamation of services occurred between St. Joseph’s Hospital and Public General Hospital as ordered by the Ministry of Health for financial reasons. Legislative changes, increasing government control, and the decline of Sisters in the health care field led to the gradual withdrawal of the Sisters from the hospital. The last year that a sister was a hospital administrator was in 1984. In 1992, the Sisters withdrew from residence at the hospital, and in 1993 the ownership of the hospital was changed over to the St. Joseph’s Health Care Society. The hospital is now Riverview Gardens, a long-term care facility.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

House of Providence

  • Corporate body
  • 1869-1985

The property which became Mount Hope originally belonged to William Barker, formerly the mayor of London. It was bounded by Grosvenor, Burlington (now Richmond), George and Thomas (now College). It was originally a school for the Religious of the Sacred Heart from 1857 to 1867, but found to be unsuitable for education due to its size and location. It was bought by John Cooke Meredith from the congregation in 1867. It was then sold to Francis Smith on May 1, 1869 for the sum of $9,250. The property was then purchased by Bishop John Walsh on May 10, 1869 for the same price. It officially opened as the new Mother House and orphanage for the Sisters of St. Joseph on October 2, 1869.

Seventeen orphans – fifteen from Toronto, and two from London – arrived at the opening of Mount Hope. By June 1870, elderly men and women from Victoria Hospital and the Municipal Home for the Aged also came to live at Mount Hope. The number of orphans living at Mount Hope grew to fifty. The women residents assisted with domestic duties and the men did gardening and other tasks.

The former Barker residence had beautiful grounds with broad shaded walks hedged with privet or bordered with flowers, as well as rose bushes, shrubs on the lawn, and many trees including pine, catalpa, birch and maple. The rear grounds were filled with apple, pear, plum and black English cherry trees. The orchards made way for the new brick building added to the Barker house. Inside the building, there was a chapel, a parlour, various workspaces, kitchen and bake room, refectories, and accommodation for the Sisters as well as dormitories for orphaned girls. The floors were bare wood kept scrubbed white and clean. The house was heated by wood stoves and lit by coal oil lamps, with a good oven in the basement where the Sisters made their own bread. Water came from a single well and was hauled from the river in barrels. A frame building at the rear of the house held a school room, sleeping quarters for resident men, a laundry, and dormitory for boys. In the laundry, wooden tubs and washboards were set around the walls, and an iron boiler rested on a big heater in the middle of the room. The stable housed a horse and cow at the rear of this building. Not far from the frame building was a two-storey brick building used by the Religious of the Sacred Heart as their poor school.

On December 18, 1870, a mass was celebrated at Mount Hope Chapel, at which time Sister Ignatia Campbell was installed as the General Superior. Through the efforts of Justice McMahon K.C., the Congregation was incorporated through an Act of the Legislature on February 15, 1871. The first reception for novices took place at Mount Hope Chapel on March 25, 1871.

Mount Hope was expanded to provide more room for the Sisters and for the poor, elderly and orphans. The sod turning took place on June 20, 1876. Bishop Walsh provided the security for any debts, and Mother Ignatia Campbell borrowed from the banks and private individuals. The building took two years to complete and was opened on October 7, 1877. The citizens of London helped to liquidate the debt incurred in construction by donating to collections and working at picnics and bazaars for many years. The newly extended building was christened the Mount Hope Mother House, Orphanage and Home for the Aged.

The new building was a Gothic design, four storeys high, built of white brick trimmed with red around the windows and porches. A large, airy bright basement contained the kitchen, store rooms, refectories and school rooms. The first floor had parlours, a community room and the novitiate, while the second floor held rooms for the Sisters. The chapel was on the north wing opposite the Bishop’s parlour and contained statues of St. Joseph and of the Sacred Heart, which were purchased in France and given to the Sisters by Bishop Walsh. This floor also had rooms for elderly women who preferred to live with the Sisters although they had independent means. The cupola on the third floor was surrounded by rooms for orphan girls, and a lamp that always stayed lit hung in the hallway. The fourth floor held the children’s dormitories. There were also dormitories for elderly women, and elderly men were housed in the remodeled former boys’ dormitory, by then a two-storey brick building.

Improvements were made with the installation of gas in 1878, and in 1887 when machinery was brought in for the laundry. In 1880, Mount Hope provided shelter to over 200 people, its only source of revenue being the salaries of Sister teachers and donations.

By the late 1890s, there was overcrowding of elderly and orphan residents. Many elderly residents required medical care. It was decided for health reasons that the elderly and orphans be separated. In 1899, the orphans – first the school-age children, beginning with the girls and then the boys and the infants – moved with the Sisters to set up their new Mother House at the former Hellmuth College for Young Ladies, which was renamed Mount St. Joseph Orphanage. The elderly residents stayed at Mount Hope, which was renamed House of Providence in 1899.

The House of Providence was a charitable institution which operated under the Charitable Institutions Act.

By the 1940s, the Sisters decided that a new facility was needed since the House of Providence was not able to properly accommodate the growing number of residents and chronic care patients. Additionally, area treatment hospitals were also encountering an increased number of chronically ill patients occupying beds, which were needed for active treatment patients and emergency care. A new addition would allow the Sisters to care for chronically ill patients from London and its surrounding areas, freeing up space in the area’s treatment hospitals. Approval for the new chronic care hospital was given by the Government of Ontario in 1948, and after grants were given by both the Federal and Provincial governments, the construction of St. Mary’s Hospital commenced. On May 1, 1951, St. Mary’s Hospital opened, located on the corner of Grosvenor Street and Richmond Street and one side of the House of Providence. Subsequently, chronic care patients were moved to St. Mary’s.

Following the construction of St. Mary's Hospital and despite financial difficulties, the staff of Sisters, under the leadership of Sister Patrick Joseph Gleeson, decided to renovate each floor of the House of Providence to make it comfortable for elderly patients. The renovation included the expansion and brightening of the small, dark rooms as well as the creation of sitting rooms. The Chapel was also renovated and expanded to make it wheelchair accessible. These renovations were completed in 1952.

Various changes occurred in the administrative structure during this time when the government was taking a more active role in social welfare, and the House of Providence made an effort to become more involved in the local community. During these changes, Sister Consolata became General Superior of the House of Providence and St. Mary's Hospital in 1956. Her interest in aiding the sick made her well liked among the patients. Father McCabe, Director of Catholic Charities, formed an Advisory Board to examine any financial or social issues pertaining to the House. Other committees were created to aid the Advisory Board, including the Recreation Program Committee, which was involved in the day-to-day activities of the patients, and the Budget Committee which was responsible for the annual operating budget.

Other individuals also became involved in the operation of the House. The residents themselves were responsible for entertainment at every social evening. A group of community members formed the House of Providence Guild, which was concerned with residents maintaining hobbies and life interests. The Catholic Family Centre helped the House of Providence conduct interviews for the admission process in order to ensure that adequate care could be provided for each resident. Some doctors, nurses, and other members of staff volunteered their time and services. The Sisters continued to care for the poor. Even when residents did not qualify for pension or welfare, the Sisters would admit them. Indeed, the Sisters themselves would take on financial responsibility for room and board as well as any other service residents were provided.

In May, 1962 a plan for a new facility to accommodate the need for more hospital beds was approved, and in January of 1966, Marian Villa was built on the other side of the House of Providence, supplying an additional 214 beds. The House of Providence still housed 58 beds, but residents from the House of Providence building were gradually relocated to Marian Villa. At Marian Villa, the Sisters were dedicated to providing both residential and extended health care to elderly residents. Additionally, the Sisters placed great emphasis on high quality long term care and viewed residents in a familial manner.

The Barker House was torn down in 1963 when Marian Villa was built, and the 1877 extension was demolished in 1980 when the addition to St. Mary's Hospital was built. By 1969, the House of Providence was deteriorating, and it was decided that is was necessary to build an additional fifth floor to Marian Villa in 1976. The House of Providence was demolished in August 1980. In 1981 a new chapel was opened, and kitchen and laundry departments opened for use by both Marian Villa and St Mary’s Hospital in October, 1982. In 1987, a secured special care unit, containing 14 beds, opened in Marian Villa to provide care for the elderly residents with mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

On June 24, 1985, Marian Villa, St. Mary’s Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital were amalgamated and named St. Joseph’s Health Centre. Today, Marian Villa and St. Mary’s Hospital form the Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care.

Jubilees

  • Corporate body
  • 1932-2017

Jubilees are celebrations, where Sisters renew their vows and celebrate their 25th, Golden (50th), Diamond (60th), Grace (70th), 75th and 80th year anniversaries with the congregation.

The jubilee date is calculated from the reception date which takes place nine months after the postulant entered the convent. At the reception ceremony, the postulant received the habit.

Jubilees are celebrated one to two times a year, depending on the number of Sisters celebrating anniversaries. When there are two jubilee ceremonies in one-year, younger Sisters are recognized in May, and senior Sisters are honoured in September. Unless the Sisters decide that they want a private jubilee, friends and family are invited to the hour-long mass and large feast that make up the day of celebration.

Reunions, where Sisters who left the congregation were invited to return for visitation, occurred far less frequently than jubilees. The last reunion took place when the congregation was moving to a new convent in 2007, and wanted to give former Sisters one last chance to walk through the building. Much like jubilees, reunions were a day long event, with an hour-long prayer service and lots of good food.

Medaille Retreat House

  • Corporate body
  • 1969-2012

Medaille Retreat House was founded in 1969 as a community retreat centre where members of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph could stay to spend time in prayer and contemplation. The house was named after Fr. Jean-Pierre Medaille, who established the Sisters of St. Joseph at Le Puy, France in 1650. The building which became Medaille House was located on Windermere Road. The grounds had originally belonged to Hellmuth College, and when the property was sold, some of the land was purchased by the Sisters of St. Joseph. In 1912, an eight-acre property adjoining Hellmuth College was also purchased, but later sold to the Nelles family who built a home and a gardener's house which they called Norwood Place, likely after the name of the original house built by Bishop Hellmuth which was named Norwood House. In 1943, the Sisters purchased the property back, and renamed the building St. Joseph's House of Studies. This building accommodated Sisters studying at the University of Western Ontario between 1949 and 1960.In 1960, the building was rented to Dr. J. J. McCredie. When the lease expired in 1969, it was decided to use the building as a community retreat centre, and it became Medaille Retreat House later that year. Sisters visited the retreat house for varying lengths of time ranging from a few hours of prayer to retreats lasting for several weeks.

Beginning in 1975 with their “Time Out” program, a 48-hour retreat for single mothers, Medaille House welcomed members of the public for courses and retreat experiences. Groups from churches, educational institutions, community organizations, and health care facilities attended programs at the retreat centre. In addition to the many programs designed to offer peace and spiritual connection, a beautiful labyrinth was added to the grounds in 1998 as a walking meditation tool. In response to a growing need, the Sisters created a new space for service and instruction in the Ignatia Hall auditorium at Mount St. Joseph. Located on the first floor, the newly refurbished space was called Medaille Program Centre. Programs began here in the fall of 1990, running until 2006.

During its years of greatest activity, Medaille House welcomed over 2,000 participants over an eight-month period from September 1992 to May 1993. After a closing ceremony on October 30, 2004, Medaille House moved to a new property, formerly known as Highview, at 545 Fanshawe Park Road West. The new Medaille House location opened on March 2, 2005. The original building on Windermere Road was demolished in July, 2005 in order to build the new Motherhouse. The demolition involved Habitat for Humanity volunteers participating in the dismantling so that materials could be re-cycled through the Re-Store. Programs at Medaille Program Centre were discontinued in 2006. In 2012, the Medaille Retreat House finally closed.

Today the CSJ Spirituality Centre carries on the work of Medaille House by providing spiritual direction, while retreats may still be arranged at the new Motherhouse on Windermere Road.

Mount Hope Motherhouse

  • Corporate body
  • 1869-1980

Mount Hope was the first Catholic institution in the Diocese of London to offer refuge and a home for the sick, infirm, destitute, and forsaken. The property that was originally the Barker House, was purchased by Bishop John Walsh and opened in 1869 as a Motherhouse and orphanage for the Sisters of St. Joseph. By 1870, the number of orphans living at Mount Hope grew. The elderly also moved to Mount Hope from Victoria Hospital and the Municipal Home for the Aged. The residents helped with domestic duties, gardening and other tasks. In 1877, the original building was extended and renamed Mount Hope Mother House, Orphanage and Home for the Aged. The only source of revenue were the salaries earned by Sister teachers and donations. By the late 1890s, Mount Hope became overcrowded. For health reasons, the orphans were moved to a new location and the elderly stayed at Mount Hope which was then renamed House of Providence. In 1951, St. Mary’s Hospital was built on one side, and in 1966, Marian Villa was built on the other side. The elderly were moved from the House of Providence to Marian Villa over time. In 1980, the House of Providence was demolished.

Policy

  • Corporate body
  • 1968-2012

Policy development in the congregation takes place when there is a need to create an approach to handle certain situations; in other words, policy development is an as-needed activity. Changes and revisions to policy are typically determined by new regulations released by the government, and these regulations are then incorporated into policy by congregational staff, such as Human Resources, as well as committees consisting of other staff and Sisters who wish to participate in the policy creation. The purpose of policy and procedures is to ensure that all members of the congregation, from the Sisters to the staff, are aware of their roles and responsibilities in creating a safe, cohesive environment that reflects the values of the congregation. This policy series mainly focuses on the roles and expectations of the Sisters specifically, but also includes important information regarding manuals and committees that pertain to the congregation’s work environment.

Renewal Programs

  • Corporate body
  • 1974, 1980-1981

Renewal programs were recommended for all religious communities, as a result of the Second Vatican Council. Events consisted of presentations, reflection and discussions regarding the Church, personal commitment, growth in relationship with Christ, and service to others. Two major events are recorded: 1974 and 1981. Both events were held twice to accommodate all the members of the Congregation. Prior to the program of 1981, a Vow Committee was formed to organize the proceedings. Minutes and correspondence and resources are contained in the series.

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