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People and organizations
Middlesex, County of Religion

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Kirwin, Sister Mary Leo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kuntz, Sister Mary Lillian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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