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Mount Saint Joseph Academy

  • Corporate body
  • 1950-1985

The Mount Saint Joseph Academy was a school for girls directed by the Sisters of St. Joseph from 1950 to 1985. It was initially located at Sacred Heart Convent with a mere six students. In 1953, it moved to the newly built Mount St. Joseph convent property, opening in the former Hellmuth Ladies' College and Mount St. Joseph Orphanage building. At this time, there were 26 students but by 1957, this number had grown to 105 students. At this time, 80 girls resided at the school and 25 were day students. In 1958, the Academy was moved to a newly completed wing in the new Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse building.

The mission of the Academy was to provide secondary education for girls in which the Catholic faith was integrated into the curriculum and school life. Students had the option of being day students if they lived in the area or boarders if they came from far away. Students came from across Canada and 10%-15% came from other countries including the West Indies, Mexico, and Hong Kong.

Music was always an important part of life at the Academy, perhaps due to the influence of the St. Joseph’s School of Music which was also run by the Sisters. Students who wished to learn to play musical instruments did so on their own time, usually through the School of Music. They could also volunteer to join the Glee Club, one of the choirs, or the choral group called the Academy Singers which was well-known in the area.

In addition to regular curriculum classes, students were required to sign up for an activity for their enrichment and cultural development. These activities included photography, driving school, typing, fencing, drama, ballet, horseback riding, charm class, scripture study, physical education, crafts, and home economics club.

The Academy closed in 1985, and the wing that it occupied became a guest wing for transplant patients, also run by the Sisters. It is estimated that over the course of 32 years, between 2,000 and 3,000 students received at least part of their high school education at the Academy.

Jamaica Annals

  • Corporate body
  • 1990-2007

In 1987, General Superior Sr. Ann Marshall was president of CRC-O. A request was made to Jim Webb, SJ, Superior in Jamaica, to plan a third world immersion experience for religious leaders in the province. In 1989, Sisters Ann and Katrina Rooney attended a three week mission preparation experience at the University of the West Indies. During this visit the Sisters, in consultation with the Jesuits serving in Kingston, agreed to set up a mission in Annotto Bay, Jamaica. Sisters Ann and Katrina opened the mission on March 22, 1990. Sister Nancy Sullivan joined them in 1993.

During their time at Annotto Bay, the Sisters were primarily involved with pastoral ministry, and attended to health care needs that presented at their home or requested by Sister Shirley Thomas, Matron of the Annotto Bay Hospital. Through the fundraising efforts of John Shea and Jordon Livingston of the Hamilton Rotary Club, a building was erected at the Annotto Bay All Age School dedicated to literacy where the Sisters taught for several years. In 1992, Brian Guest, Dr. Danny Kraftcheck, Hamilton, and Paula Carere, RN, of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Guelph, visited the mission providing five containers of surplus equipment, medical supplies, and equipment to the 127 bed Annotto Bay Hospital. During their visit it was determined that there was a critical water problem at the Port Maria Infirmary. The following year the Congregation donated $10,000 for the reconstruction of a water holding tank, and other structural repairs. In 1990, the principal of the Annotto All Age School, Mr. Smikle, asked the Sisters to teach a Family Life Program to grades 7, 8, and 9, which they did until 1992 when they began a literacy program in a building funded by the Rotary Club.

In February 1992 General Superior, Sister Teresita McInally visited Annotto Bay and agreed to sponsor a wood working program at the school. Library books were collected through the efforts of the Hamilton Wentworth Separate School System, and the first library at the school opened. Church sponsored Basic School programs were opened at the site of the five Churches served by the mission. These programs were similar to kindergarten. Through generous donations the children were served a hot meal each day. The Sisters received great support and financial assistance from a Peterborough, Ontario based charity, Jamaican Self Help.
The Sisters were involved in the parish ministry in the five church communities associated with St. Theresa’s Church in Annotto Bay. In 2001 Fr. Martin Royacher, Pastor, was murdered and Sister Nancy was appointed Administrator of the mission by Archbishop Lawrence Burke. Sister Katrina returned to Canada in 2000 to serve on the leadership. In June 2007, the mission was transferred to the Missionary Order of the Poor from the Philippines. Sisters Ann and Nancy returned to Canada but left part of their heart with the people in Annotto Bay.

St. Joseph's Hospital, Sarnia, Ont.

  • Corporate body
  • 1944-1990

The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Diocese of London had been invited by the Sarnia City Council in 1942 to open a hospital in Sarnia. Initially, the Sisters faced opposition on the part of the Ministerial Association, the Derry Orange Lodge, and some medical personnel. Construction of the hospital began in 1944, and after numerous delays due to shortage of materials and labour during WW II, one floor was finally opened in 1945 to meet the acute need for hospital beds. St. Joseph’s Hospital was fully operational with 150 beds on March 1, 1946. The formal opening ceremony for St. Joseph’s Hospital was held on October 18, 1946. The Honourable George A. Drew, Premier of Ontario cut the ribbon. Bishops J.T. Kidd and J.C. Cody (Coadjutor, Bishop), and priests from London and Detroit were present. Officials from other hospitals were also present.

The entire million-dollar project was funded by the Sisters of St. Joseph. They received no financial assistance from the government and only a $10,000 grant from the City of Sarnia. The units were filled with both Canadian and American patients from Port Huron and the state of Michigan.

The Sisters carried out active nursing roles and administrative duties, notably Sister Pascal Kenny who served as the first Administrator of the hospital. She had previous experience working in operating rooms and administration, and was a member of the American College of Hospital Administrators and of the Board of Governors of the Ontario Hospital Association.

In the early days, nursing, technical, and domestic staff were difficult to find. Many of the staff were mothers of families who could only work occasionally. Students from St. Joseph’s Training School of Nursing in London helped fill the nursing rota, and were hired permanently after graduation. Because of the nursing shortage, innovations were made such as the central distribution of medicines and central surgical supply rooms.

By September 1948, St. Joseph’s Hospital was better able to provide for patients. A detoxification centre was opened and many alcoholics were treated at the hospital. A clinic for cancer patients was also held regularly at the hospital, overseen by a team from the London Cancer Clinic, who did follow-up checks and therapy. The Auxiliary Radiotherapy and Follow-up Cancer Clinic, the first of its kind in Ontario, was opened in conjunction with the Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation.

The late 1950’s saw increased demand for hospital services, which led in 1959, with the advent of government sponsored coverage, a seven-storey, two million dollar addition and an increase of 150 active treatment beds. In 1960, a 45-bed paediatric wing was added. An Intensive Care Unit was opened in 1967, and an Employee Health program was established. The late 1960’s saw the addition of a Social Service Department, and in 1969, a diagnostic radioisotope service. This time period also saw the establishment of District Health Councils.

In the 1970s, the hospital needed to update its facilities to meet accreditation standards, as well as to comply with the Sisters’ own standards of care. Because government funding was decreased, Sisters needed to do more independent fundraising. This decade also saw the Ministry of Health deciding to amalgamate hospitals and rationalize services in Lambton County. This became a political issue which meant many hours were spent on discussions with the District Health Council, the Mustard Report, and other tasks. St. Joseph’s Hospital also became embroiled in a confrontation with the Ministry of Health on contentious issues regarding health services, which conflicted with the Catholic faith. The end of this tumultuous period saw the closure of the paediatrics unit and the doubling of obstetrical unit beds.

From 1979 onwards, diminishing numbers of Sisters able to take on the responsibilities of hospital management led to the hiring of qualified laypersons, beginning with Frank Bagatto as the Executive Director in June, 1979.

In the 1980s, quality assurance became a major focus, and new services such as the chiropody and palliative care were added. The new Chronic Care Facility was financed and completed. In November of 1983, A Memorandum of Understanding between St. Joseph’s Hospital, Sarnia and Sarnia General Hospital was drafted to form the basis for the future planning of each hospital.

St. Joseph’s Hospital was officially re-opened as St. Joseph’s Health Centre on October 12, 1990. This was the amalgamation of St. Joseph’s Hospital, the Continuing Care Centre (formerly the Chronic Care Facility), Sarnia-Lambton Workers’ Treatment Centre, and a Day Hospital. The name change reflects a concomitant change in service provision and governance. St. Joseph’s Health Centre no longer served as exclusively as an in-patient treatment centre for the critically ill. It also provided long-term care beds and outpatient treatment. Assets were transferred from the Sisters of St. Joseph to the newly incorporated body of St. Joseph’s Health Services Association of Sarnia. The board of directors of the corporation was now the hospital board, and six Sisters formed the General Administration as members of the corporation which was an un-shared capital corporation. Ownership lay with the corporation while the Sisters maintained final authority over decisions.

In January 1995, the Sisters donated their residence at 430 London Road to St. Joseph Health Centre to be used as a hospice. On January 29, 1998, the St. Joseph’s Health Centre joined in partnership with the Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital and the Sarnia General Hospital by signing the Strategic Alliance Agreement. In April 2003, ownership of St. Joseph’s Health Centre was given to the Lambton County Hospital Group.

Mount St. Joseph Centre

  • Corporate body
  • 1960-1980

In 1960, Mount St. Joseph Centre opened to treat emotionally disturbed boys. It was located at 354 King Street West, Hamilton, which was the former site of Mount St. Joseph Orphanage, which had been closed by the Sisters of St. Joseph due to the declining number of orphans in residence. A shift in views occurred in the 1950s, and the Welfare Protection Agency began placing more children into foster homes rather than keeping them in large orphanages.

Mount St. Joseph Centre was a private, charitable, and non-denominational organization, operated by a board of directors. The Sisters of St. Joseph sat on the board, along with professionals and laypersons. Sister Eugenia Callaghan was the Administrative Director of the Centre. Other Sisters worked there as teachers and child care workers. All of the Sisters who worked at the centre had living quarters on the third floor.

Due to its success, more space was eventually needed, and in 1975, boys aged 6 to 12 remained at 354 King Street West, while boys aged 13 to 17 moved to 66 Canada Street, otherwise known as “Canada House”.

Mount St. Joseph Centre’s board of directors defined “emotionally disturbed youth” as children who had difficulty adjusting to everyday life, and thus needed special attention. The boys were described as being in conflict with their families, communities, and themselves.

A child entered the centre after first trying community-based, out-patient counselling services. If this treatment did not prove helpful, then a team of representatives from the Children’s Aid Society, Board of Education, Probation and Court Services, treatment centres, counselling services, and the Regional Children’s Centre met to discuss the child’s case. If it was determined that the child’s needs could be better met by residential treatment, they were sent to Mount St. Joseph Centre. It is important to note that children were never taken away from their parents. Instead, the centre offered a place for boys to live and receive treatment. If the child did not have a family, then the Centre worked with the Children’s Aid Society to find an appropriate family for them.

The therapy was based on everyday positive relationships with staff members. If a boy acted out, he was provided with explanations and clarifications about his behaviour, and encouraged to try new responses. This type of therapy was used to instill self-esteem into the child, as well as re-adjust his thinking about how to better respond to social interactions. The children were encouraged to join community activities, like sport clubs.

In 1967, the Department of Health promulgated the White Paper, which outlined the necessity for residential treatment centres. As a result, Mount St. Joseph Centre was accredited as a Schedule IV institution under the Revised Mental Health Act of August, 1968. This Act provided financial support for children in residential treatment centres, but not for additional educational services. In 1971, it was decided that the Public School Board would assume the responsibility for the educational programme at the centre.

On September 5, 1980, Mount St. Joseph Centre moved from 354 King Street to 69 Flatt Street, Burlington. They subsequently changed their name to Woodview Children’s Centre. The Sisters were not involved with the Centre once it moved.

With a now vacant building at 354 King Street, the Sisters put together a committee to determine what to do with the property. There were discussions about creating a seniors’ day centre and also a pastoral care centre for aging priests. The seniors’ day centre was to be in partnership with Providence House, a facility for the care of the aged, which was an institution which had been founded by the Sisters. It does not appear that these projects came to fruition.

In 1982, the Cool School leased two floors of the former Mount St. Joseph Centre. The school offered alternative education to assist troubled youth and those with learning disabilities. Other tenants included a pastoral counselling centre, St. Joseph Hospital Foundation and a bereavement group sponsored by the Sisters.

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.

Workshops and Events

  • Corporate body
  • September 1953- December 2006

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

The Hope Project

  • Corporate body
  • 2009-2010

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

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

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

Tertianship

  • Corporate body
  • 1958, 1960, 1963, 1966

The tertianship program delivered by the Sisters of St. Joseph of London was conducted in the summers of 1958, 1960, 1963 and 1966 at Holy Rosary Convent in Windsor, Ontario. The tertianship program was a month-long program and a Sister could only take part in it one time. The tertianship was an opportunity for professed Sisters to deepen their spiritual and religious vows through meditation, self-evaluation, reflection, and study. They also studied what Pope John XXIII had written in his encyclical on mercy. After Bishop Carter called a synod on Vatican II, tertianships ended. Mother Julia assumed leadership of the Sisters of St. Joseph of London five years prior to the Second Vatican Council, and was very involved in the tertianship process.

Stettler Hospital, Alta.

  • Corporate body
  • 1926-1927

In 1925, the Board of Trade passed a resolution that the leaders of Stettler should ask Archbishop Henry Joseph O'Leary to set up a "Sisters' Hospital" in Stettler, Alberta. In turn, the Archbishop sent for four sisters from the Sisters of St. Joseph in the Diocese of London to run the hospital: Sister Patricia Coughlin, Sister Virginia Lobban, Sister Austin Gurvine, and Sister Jane Francis O'Rourke. They arrived in March of 1926.

Due to religious factions in the community, soon after it was known that the Sisters would be running a hospital, another proposal was made to establish a public municipal hospital instead. Since the voting on this issue was dragged out, the Sisters went ahead and began work in a small existing hospital. Upon arrival, the Sisters cleaned the building and ordered new supplies because the hospital was in a poor state. The local parish was very supportive and a nearby cottage was rented for the purposes of storage and an oratory for the Sisters to celebrate mass and have community prayers.

Meanwhile, a vote was finally conducted but failed to pass. After the district boundaries were redrawn, another vote was held in favour of a municipal hospital. Also around this time, the hospital's cottage was burned down by opponents. Both these factors contributed to the Sisters closing the hospital and moving to Galahad where the Village of Galahad had asked them to establish a Sisters' Hospital.

St. Mary's Hospital, London, Ont.

  • Corporate body
  • 1951-1985

The Sisters of St. Joseph built St. Mary’s Hospital at 200 Grosvenor Street in 1951. It received its first 35 patients on April 3, 1951 from the House of Providence. It was created to serve the special medical and nursing needs of the chronically ill. The Sisters assigned to St. Mary’s Hospital in 1951 were: Sr. Patrick Joseph as Superior; Sr. Leonora Doyle as Superintendent of the Hospital; Sisters: Irene Redmond, Austin Gurvine, Christina Dewan, Alberta Kenny, Lutgarde Stock, Bernandine Boyle, St. Matthew McMurray, Gervase Martin, Roseanne Sheehan, Ludmille (Isabel) Girard, Carmela Reedy, Justina Mahoney, Vincent de Paul Cronin, Genevieve Anne Cloutier, Dolores Sullivan. Its physiotherapy department was especially well-known for its efficiency, modern equipment, and well trained staff.

Many patients at St. Mary’s were there for long-term care and were encouraged to make the hospital their home. Some of the programs that facilitated this were the Patients’ Council, a patient newspaper called Between Friends, and fund-raising events for charities and the hospital. The hospital’s budget was often strained. In 1959, the Ontario Hospital Commission Insurance was created which provided welcome financial relief for many hospitals, including St. Mary’s. It was difficult for administrative and medical staff to adjust with extra patient evaluations and paperwork required to qualify for insurance.

In 1960, the hospital re-organized its staff in preparation for the Canadian Council Accreditation Survey which the hospital passed. The hospital maintained its accreditation over the years despite inadequate facilities which were addressed in 1979-1981 with a large building project. The old laundry and what remained of the Mount Hope Chapel were demolished to make way for a new chapel, laundry, and kitchen which connected the hospital with the neighbouring Marian Villa. In 1979, the Pastoral Department was created at the hospital. A Sister or priest worked part-time to co-ordinate the Sisters who volunteered for pastoral visits to patients.

In 1985, St. Mary’s Hospital merged with St.Joseph’s Hospital and Marian Villa to become St. Joseph’s Health Centre. In 1986, rehabilitation services were added at St. Mary’s Hospital for acute injuries, amputees, neurological, orthopaedic, and chronic pain. In 1997, it became part of the Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care.

St. Joseph's School of Music

  • Corporate body
  • 1914-1982

The Sisters of St. Joseph have a long history of music instruction. The St. Joseph’s School of Music traces its beginnings back a century ago to 1914, when the Sisters of St. Joseph first took up residence at Sacred Heart Convent in London, Ontario, and began formal music instruction, due to the initiative taken by Sister Ursula McGuire and Sister Patricia Mallon. The school's earliest known music recital took place in 1919; however, it wasn't until the early 1920s that the school was established as the Sacred Heart School of Music. The music ministry has an even longer history, though, as individual Sisters were actually offering music lessons in small mission houses and schools throughout Ontario as early as 1867.

In the early days of the Sisters’ music ministry and the Sacred Heart School of Music, music studios were established in a number of schools within the London Separate School Board, and Sisters would visit the schools once or twice a week to teach. These schools included St. Michael, St. Martin, Holy Cross, Holy Rosary, Blessed Sacrament and St. Peter’s Catholic Schools. By 1929, the music ministry had 27 music teachers, and the Sisters offered music instruction in Windsor, Belle River, Leamington, Goderich, St. Mary’s, Ingersoll, Woodstock and St. Thomas in Ontario, as well as in Edmonton, Alberta. That year, Sister Callistus Arnsby was appointed Community Music Supervisor and Principal of the Sacred Heart School of Music. She was responsible for creating uniformity in policies and structure throughout the schools, and for helping the Sisters to grow professionally.

The Sacred Heart School of Music’s instructors studied and were trained themselves at the London Conservatory of Music (1892-1922), which later became the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music (1934-1997). Some of the Sisters also received special instruction in violin and piano teaching from a well-known musician of the time, Mr. St. John Hyttenruck.

The Sisters originally taught a program of studies based on the examination requirements of the Toronto Conservatory of Music (now the Royal Conservatory of Music). Students could take annual examinations, with examiners from the conservatory coming to the school for the exams. However, when the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music was established in London in 1934, the Sacred Heart School of Music began following its courses and requirements instead.

As the years went on, the Sacred Heart School of Music continued to grow. School policies were instituted, student recitals took place regularly, scholarships and awards were established, and bi-annual report cards were issued to students. There was even a music library. In the 1940s, the Sacred Heart Concert Orchestra was formed by Sister Immaculata Brophy. Originally a string ensemble, the orchestra eventually expanded to include wind, bass and percussion instruments. The Sacred Heart Concert Orchestra played frequently at important civic and religious events, and gave annual concerts in London and other nearby cities until the late 1940s when it disbanded.

When the new Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse opened in 1954, the music school was relocated there and its name was changed to the St. Joseph School of Music. The new St. Joseph School of Music contained larger, modern facilities, including St. Cecilia’s Recital Hall and adjoining music studios for teaching and practice. However, some of the school’s original studios were still retained, such as the studio at 429 Colborne St., a small house across the street from the Sacred Heart Convent, which continued to be used for teaching until 1973.

In addition to piano and violin instruction, the Sisters also offered vocal instruction. In fact, Sister Mary Margaret Childs organized several choirs over the years, including a senior girls’ choir called the School of Christ Choristers and a junior choir called the Little Radio Choir. In 1963, she formed a choir of her own senior vocal students called the St. Cecilia Singers who sang a repertoire of sacred songs, folk songs, popular songs, plain chant and carols. The St. Cecilia Singers made quite a name for themselves, touring throughout Canada and the United States and winning many awards at Rotary and Kiwanis Music Festivals. The choir is still in existence today as part of the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University. By 1972, the St. Joseph’s School of Music had an enrolment of approximately 400 students, and lessons were offered in piano, violin, singing and music theory. At this point the school had 30 teachers, seven of whom were Sisters.

In September 1982, the St. Joseph's School of Music was amalgamated with the Western Ontario Conservatory of Music on the University of Western Ontario campus. The St. Joseph's School of Music programs continued, its teachers were invited to join the conservatory staff, and its students were able to continue with their same teachers. By 1993, only three Sisters remained teaching at the conservatory. Shortly thereafter, the three Sisters began teaching independently again, offering independent instruction at the Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse. Today, in 2014, Sister Caroline Bering is the sole Sister still offering music instruction, with one student under her tuition.

St. Joseph's Hospital School of Nursing, Chatham, Ont.

  • Corporate body
  • 1901-1970

The St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing in Chatham dates back to 1901 when it was discovered that secular nurses would be needed to help out the Sisters of the Congregation in the hospitals. Doctors gave the lectures at the school. From 1903 onward, graduates could be given diplomas. Sister Monica Coyle became Directress of the School. The Alumnae Association of St. Joseph’s Hospital, which started in 1915, raised funds for the school. The last graduating class from the school was in 1970. After the closure of the nursing school, training was delivered by St. Clair College, and nurses did their practical training at both Chatham hospitals (St. Joseph's Hospital and Public General Hospital).

St. Joseph's Health Care Society

  • Corporate body
  • 1993-

In 1987, following the election of a completely new General Council of the Sisters of Joseph, hospital ownership and sponsorship were raised as key issues. The Society was formed in 1993 in response to a decision made by the Sisters to cease direct administration of the health care institutions founded by them in London, Sarnia and Chatham.
St. Joseph’s Health Care Society is a publicly funded, incorporated body which owns and operates three health care institutions formerly managed by the Sisters of St. Joseph in the Diocese of London, as well as two affiliated institutions. These are St. Joseph’s Health Care (London, Ont.), St. Stephen’s House (London, Ont.), St. Joseph’s Hospital (Chatham, Ont.), St. Joseph’s Hospice (Sarnia, Ont.), and St. Joseph’s Hospice (London, Ont.).
In London, the health care complex now known as St. Joseph’s Health Centre (originally St. Joseph’s Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital and Marian Villa), was administered by the Sisters until 1993. St. Stephen’s House, a transition home for alcoholics, was run by the Sisters until 2004. In Chatham, St. Joseph’s Hospital was administered by the Sisters until 1993, and since 1998 has been part of the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.

In January 1995, the Sisters donated their residence at 430 London Road to St. Joseph’s Health Centre in Sarnia to be used as a hospice. St. Joseph’s Hospice in London came under the direction of the St. Joseph’s Health Care Society whose expertise in operating the ten-bed hospice in Sarnia was integral to their involvement. A residential facility was opened in 2014.
The St. Joseph’s Health Care Society is governed by a volunteer board of directors. The Society approves the appointment of institutional board members, upper management, and auditors and annual audited financial statements.

The Society is responsible to:
• approve the appointment of board trustees who are committed to the mission and values of St. Joseph’s Health Care Society;
• ensure the provision by board members, staff, and administrators of health and pastoral care services to reflect Roman Catholic values; and
• foster the Catholic Church’s philosophy of health care through sponsorship of a health leadership program.

Social Justice

  • Corporate body
  • 1974-2013

It is part of the congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada’s mandate to live out contemplative spirituality in ways that bring about systemic justice. This is done through research, political advocacy, activism and education. Consistent themes of this work have been the opposition of poverty and human trafficking, and the support of the environment. The Social Justice Committee was formed in approximately 1974, to help organise and promote this outreach work. It became the Our Call to Justice Committee in approximately 1980. In 2004, in London, the Office for Children and Systemic Justice was formed, becoming part of the Federation for the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada in 2006.

Sisters' Ministries

  • Corporate body
  • 1964-2007

Ministries, which take the form of professional roles of service, are fundamental to the Sisters of St. Joseph, as helping others has always been important to their mission. Professional roles such as nurse, music teacher or homemaker are created in order to fill occupational gaps in the community or the congregation. For example, when the community was in desperate need of music teachers, many Sisters were assigned the ministry of “music teacher.” Before the Second Vatican Council, 1962-1965, these professional roles were assigned to Sisters by the head superior in the form of a note on their pillow, and sisters obediently performed their ministries. After the Council, which made the congregation question their vows of obedience, this tradition was altered so that Sisters could form and enlist in ministries that appealed to their specific interests in the congregation and the community.

Sisters may engage in a ministry during their second year as a novice, but they cannot assume a professional role until they take their temporary vows and become Juniorates. In order to perform their ministries, Sisters are required to attend the same university or college programs that other members of the community would attend to perform the same roles. For this reason, training is constantly changing and evolving, as are the Sisters of St. Joseph.

Sisters of St. Joseph Concert Band

  • Corporate body
  • 1968-1973

The Sisters of St. Joseph Concert Band began as part of the Centennial Program for the London based Sisters, which lasted from December 1968 until December 1969. However, the Concert Band lasted well beyond the Centennial year, and was quite successful, playing at ecumenical concerts, music festivals, and performance venues from Quebec City to Edmonton and many places in between. From March 1968 to June 1970, the Sisters of St. Joseph Concert Band performed in 15 cities, at 35 public concerts, traveled 8,000 miles and performed for over 23,000 people. Its conductor was the well-known and respected Mr. Martin Boundy, until 1971 when Mr. Donald H. Jones became the Band's conductor.

The instruments first arrived on March 17, 1967, and the Sisters began practicing. Their first concert was on March 19 (St. Joseph's Day) in the Mount St. Joseph Academy Auditorium in London, Ontario.

The Concert Band first officially performed at Catholic Central High School on March 15, 1968. On October 1 of the same year, they played at the Kiwanis Convention on the ground floor of Centennial Hall in London. Another significant performance included the 1968 Waterloo Instrumental Clinic on April 27, 1968, when they laid down their instruments and performed as a choir and received a standing ovation from their audience.

Sister Lists

  • Corporate body
  • 1911-2012

This series contains records of the activities of the Sisters including their occupational work appointments, residences, vows, and any departures from the congregation that occurred. The material contained in this series is primarily administrative and allowed the Sisters to keep track of membership, duties, and contact information.

Occupational work was assigned based both on the needs of the community and the skills and training of the Sisters. The primary occupational work fulfilled by Sisters outside of the congregation was in education or nursing, but Sisters also fulfilled roles within the congregation such as housekeeping, and administrative work. With an increasingly aging population, there has been a greater dependence on lay staff to fulfill these sorts of duties within the community.

The large range in dates of the records provides insight into changes that have taken place in the congregation since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), most notably in the lists of name changes and the lists of sisters who withdrew from the congregation. Prior to the Second Vatican Council, women who joined religious orders received new names of patron saints when they took their vows to represent their separation from the lay world. The Second Vatican Council called upon religious orders to return to their roots and emphasized the value of not separating religious life from the rest of the world, and a large part of this was having Sisters reclaim their baptismal names. Some Sisters felt that the changes imposed by the Second Vatican Council were too much, and there was an exodus of withdrawals in the later 1960s.

Sacred Heart Convent

  • Corporate body
  • 1914-1953

The building which became Sacred Heart Convent was built in 1854. It was originally the home of Lawrence Lawrason, London's first Police Magistrate. The first structure, which had the Sacred Heart statue facing it, was the part that overlooked Dundas Street. In 1867, an additional and major structure was added. The Religious of the Sacred Heart operated a school at this location, but withdrew in September, 1913. The Sisters of St. Joseph began to use the building for commercial classes in two rooms as well as elementary classes in two other rooms. The commercial class provided training in typing, stenography, commercial law and other subjects related to business. On March 31, 1914 through the efforts of Sir Philip Pocock and Mr. T. J. Murphy, the Sacred Heart Convent and property ownership was secured by the Sisters of St. Joseph. The owners, the Religious of the Sacred Heart, discounted the price for the Sisters who were aided by donations from Philip Pocock and Ed Shea. The building became the new Mother House and Novitiate for the Sisters of St. Joseph. The address was 401 Queens Avenue.

The convent housed a Casavant organ, made in Quebec by a company known world-wide for their craftsmanship, and installed in 1931. The Sisters who lived at the convent started teaching music, establishing the Sacred Heart School of Music, later the St. Joseph School of Music, and even an orchestra called the Sacred Heart Concert Orchestra. Mr. César Borré, a renowned Belgian musician, was a friend to the Sisters and helped with music.

The first six students from Sacred Heart Commercial High School attended their graduation ceremonies at St. Peter’s Hall Auditorium in October, 1938. When a Departmental inspection took place at the school, it was determined that instruction was above average, and that graduates with a general business or diploma had an education equivalent to a secondary school diploma.

In 1915, the Separate School Board bought some of the Sacred Heart School property at the northwest corner. Three years later, the School Board rented room in the convent for a household science class. In 1936, the City Council asked that eight feet in from the property line be given to them, and an iron fence was erected along the new line. In 1946, property on the corner of Queens Avenue and Colborne Street was sold to the School Board.

In 1946, the Sacred Heart Convent site was chosen to build a new Catholic high school which would include both a junior and senior school. Until rooms were built for the senior high school, the first two floors of the west wing of the convent were rented to the Catholic School Board and became Catholic Central High School. The boys, with the Christian Brothers as teachers, were on the first floor, and the girls with Sisters as teachers were on the second floor. The Sisters continued to teach girls at Sacred Heart School in grades 9 and 10, while boys in grades 9 and 10 remained at St. Peter’s Parish Hall at what was called De La Salle High School. In 1950, a boarding school for girls was started at Sacred Heart Convent with six students. In the same year, rooms in the convent were rented for high school classes.

The Senior School, named Catholic Central High School (grades 11-13) opened in September 1950 in the former Sacred Heart Convent, being the amalgamation of Sacred Heart Commercial School (1914-1950), St. Angela’s College (run by the Ursuline Sisters from 1913-1950) and De La Salle High School (1920-1951). The Senior School was administered separately from the Junior School. This latter school which opened in September, 1952, was named Catholic Central Separate School (grades 7-10). Classes started being taught at Catholic Central High School on September 2, 1950 in its new building, with Father Joseph Finn and Sister Mary Angela Flaherty as associate principals. Eventually, the Christian Brothers left in 1952. The next year, a special class for special needs students was set up, which moved the following year to three rooms in Sacred Heart School.

In 1953, the building ceased to be a convent and the boarding school moved to the newly built Mount St. Joseph, and in 1958 to the newly completed wing. It was now called Mount St. Joseph Academy.

In 1955, the property was transferred to the Catholic School Board for offices and classrooms. By 1959, most of Sacred Heart Convent had been demolished except the chapel wing, which was torn down in 1986. The new Catholic Central building opened in September 1959 with Sister Elaine Dunn as Principal and with 247 students. In 1960, the formal opening of Catholic Central High School took place. In 1967, the separate school (grades 9-10) and high school (grades 11-13) operated under one principal as Catholic Central High School. In 1986, the North Wing was built, and further renovations took place up until 2000. A blessing and rededication of the school was held in October, 2000. Catholic Central High School held a 50th anniversary reunion in 2001.

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.

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.

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