Showing 5 results

People and organizations
Campbell, Ignatia
Person · November 17, 1840-January 3, 1929

Catherine Anne Campbell was born in Thorah Township, Brock Settlement, Ontario on November 17, 1840. Catherine Anne's parents were Kenneth A. Campbell (born ca. 1800, died 1877) and Anne McEwen (born 1803 in Scotland, died February 18, 1872). The family lived in the Brock Settlement in Ontario, situated southeast of Lake Simcoe. The first resident priest in the Settlement in 1855 was Rev. John Walsh, who was later named Bishop of London in 1867. Catherine's father was a farmer and was appointed postmaster in 1829 to carry mail on foot from Thorah to Whitby every two weeks to the store of Mr. J. B. Warren. As there were no postage stamps, he received a small amount of money from those for whom he carried letters or parcels.

Catherine Anne attended S. S. #1 School in Thorah Township. It was later known as Riverview or the "Swamp" school. On October 9, 1855, scarcely fifteen years of age and having never known a religious sister, she entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto at their Motherhouse on Power Street. However, homesickness overcame her and she asked for her father who came for her. As they were ready to leave, she decided to go to the Chapel for moment. She came out of the Chapel and told her father that she had changed her mind. He was said to be a little indignant, but he rejoiced at her remaining. She never experienced any more doubts about her vocation, and it taught her compassion for others who struggled in the same way.

Catherine Anne was formally received into the Congregation on May 3, 1856, and she was given the religious name, Sister Ignatia. The Reception ceremony was under the guidance of Mother Delphine Fontbonne, niece of Mother St. John, from whom she imbibed the spirit of the original foundation in LePuy, France. Mother Ignatia professed her vows on October 15, 1858. She taught elementary classes at St. Patrick's School in Toronto and in the separate schools of St. Catharines and Barrie. In 1867 Sister Ignatia was assigned to Thorold to teach in the Catholic school and named Superior of the newly opened Convent.

The following year Sister Ignatia travelled to London along with four other Sisters to establish a convent in response to a request from Bishop John Walsh. He announced to the parishioners of St. Peter's Parish that the Sisters would visit the sick and the poor, teach in the separate schools, visit prisoners, and establish an orphanage. They arrived on December 11, 1868, and settled in their first home which was situated on Kent Street. However before long they moved to Mount Hope to prepare the orphanage for seventeen orphans arriving October 2, 1869. On December 18, 1870, Bishop Walsh received the vows of the Sisters who were residing in London, establishing a separate Congregation and he appointed Sister Ignatia to be the General Superior. She was then known as Reverend Mother Ignatia Campbell. Mother Ignatia arranged for an Act of Incorporation which gave legal status to the London Community on February 15, 1871.

The children in the orphanage were Mother Ignatia's first concern and she did everything to clothe and feed them. She was known for her compassion and concern for the old people who came to live at Mount Hope. In order to meet all their needs a bazaar was organized at City Hall and three thousand dollars were realized.

A few hundred dollars was the salary of the Sister-teachers for the year, so Mother Ignatia and the Sisters canvassed the people of London and surrounding areas for food and clothing for the orphans. Mother Ignatia was always concerned for her Sisters who were entering and teaching in some of the separate schools in the city and surrounding towns. She arranged for lecturers to teach and assist the teachers.

At Bishop Walsh's request, Mother Ignatia discontinued the "lay" Sisters. Therefore, all new members were allowed to assume the regular habit.

She was known for her kindness to priests of the diocese as she opened Mount Hope to retreats and ordinations for the priests until the new St. Peter's Cathedral was completed in 1885.

Requests for teachers increased and Mother Ignatia opened a convent in Goderich where the Sisters taught in the school. As more requests came, Sisters were missioned to St. Thomas and Ingersoll to teach in the Catholic schools. As the Community, the number of orphans and the elderly at Mount Hope grew, the building became inadequate, and it was necessary to build. The official opening of the new building took place in 1877.

Mother Ignatia, who was worn out with the responsibilities of her position and anxiety over finances, was ordered to rest to regain her health so she travelled with Sister Francis O'Malley to Orillia where her brother, Rev. Kenneth Campbell was parish priest. While she was away, Sister Aloysia Nigh arranged for gas to be installed in the building and when Mother Ignatia returned the entire house was illuminated to welcome her home.

The Community celebrated Mother Ignatia's 25th anniversary in 1881. Her brother, Archdeacon Kenneth Campbell of Orillia, presented her with a silver Monstrance for the Chapel.

When the pleasure boat, "The Victoria," sank on the Thames River after leaving Springbank Park, Mother Ignatia sent Sisters, two by two, to visit and to help the families who had lost a loved one.

In 1884 she arranged for the Sisters to take charge of the domestic arrangements at Sandwich College, later known as Assumption College, where priests were educated. The Sisters of St. Joseph remained there until 1904.

Mother Ignatia was truly a dedicated apostolic religious. No matter how demanding her administrative duties, she was always attentive to the needs of the Sisters, especially the sick and suffering.

When the new St. Peter's Cathedral opened, Mother Ignatia and the Sisters hosted a banquet at Mount Hope for Bishop Walsh and his guests.

In 1887 there was an epidemic of "black diphtheria" at the orphanage. Two Sisters, who were with the orphans, remained quarantined with the sick for three months. Mother Ignatia initiated prayers to St. Roch during the epidemic as he was known as a protector from contagious diseases.

The Inspector of Charitable Institutions, Dr. W. T. O'Reilly encouraged Mother Ignatia to open a hospital in London. The first hospital in the former home of Judge W. T. Street across from Mount Hope, was opened in 1888. Another hospital was established in Chatham, ON when the vacant Salvation Army Barracks was leased for two years. The new hospital was built on King Street West and was formally opened and blessed on November 15, 1891.

Due to overcrowding at Mount Hope, the need to separate the children and the senior residents was the catalyst which encouraged Mother Ignatia to seek a new property. When Hellmuth Ladies College closed, she planted a statue on the grounds outside the gate and when it was announced that Norwood House, Hellmuth College, the Chapel and one hundred and forty acres of land were for sale, Mother Ignatia immediately sought the help of Mr. Philip Pocock who bought the property for her with the approval of the Administrator of the Diocese, Rev. Joseph Bayard. The Sisters began collecting for funds to repair the buildings. Another bazaar and orphans' benefit program helped to finance the project. After the blessing on April 26, 1900, Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse, Novitiate and Orphanage officially opened. The task of moving one hundred and eight orphans across the river on the stepping stones where the bridge had been torn down, was a mammoth one, along with having to say goodbye to their first home at Mount Hope. She rejoiced though with the Sisters and orphans who were enjoying the invigorating air and scenic beauty of their new home, named Mount St. Joseph.

After Mother Ignatia sent two Sisters to study as graduate nursing specialists, the St. Joseph's Schools of Nursing at the London and Chatham hospitals were established.

Mother Ignatia, who had governed the Community for thirty-two years, from 1870-1902, resigned as General Superior and was elected first councillor in 1902. She resided at the Convent in St. Thomas. At her Golden Jubilee, which was celebrated on May 3, 1906, she was given a gold Chalice as a gift from the Community. Present for the celebration were her four nieces. Three were members of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peterborough and one was a member of the Loretto Sisters of Toronto.

Mother Ignatia lived in the Convent in St. Mary's when it opened in 1913. That same year, Convents were opened in Seaforth and Woodstock and St. Joseph's Hospital in Chatham was enlarged. The Motherhouse was moved to Sacred Heart Convent in 1914 which had been the Academy of the Sacred Heart Religious.

In 1916, Mother was honoured by the Community on her Diamond Jubilee. The celebration of three days, consisted of a Solemn High Mass each day, programs honouring her, and festivities celebrated at St. Joseph's Hospital, the House of Providence and Mount St. Joseph Orphanage.

In December 1918, the Community celebrated the Golden Jubilee of the coming of Sisters of St. Joseph to London. Mother Ignatia was present for the Mass and was the only living member who was with the original band of Sisters who arrived in London in 1868.

Mother Ignatia also observed the sixtieth anniversary of the arrival of the Sisters of St. Joseph to London. Mother Ignatia's death came on January 3, 1929, on the closing day of the Sisters' annual retreat. The Ceremony of Reception of the Habit which was to occur the next day was held as planned. The Vicar General reminded the postulants who were to receive the habit that they would never be called upon to make such sacrifices or experience such difficulties as Mother Ignatia had realized in her long religious life as pioneer and founder. "Her fingers had been worn and her Habit often frayed during her long years of charitable service."

Coughlin, Margaret
Person · December 30, 1887-December 2, 1980

Josephine Hildegarde Coughlin was born in Mount Camel, Ontario on December 30, 1887 to Bartholomew Coughlin and Johanna Curtin. One of her sisters, Nora (1884-1957), also joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of London and took on the religious name Sister St. Francis. Josephine entered the congregation and received her habit on June 24, 1909. She was given the religious name Sister Margaret and professed her vows on September 16, 1911, in the Chapel of St. Anne at Mount St. Joseph, London, Ontario. After completing senior high school, she attended Ottawa Normal School and graduated in 1913. She then taught in St. Thomas, London, and Woodstock and was appointed the community’s Supervisor of Schools, a position she held for 11 years. In 1945, Sister Margaret transferred to St. Patrick’s High School in Sarnia where she took charge of building an expansion of the original school.

In 1947 she was elected as General Superior. During Mother Margaret’s term as General Superior a great many projects were initiated. Among them were St. Joseph’s House of Studies, which opened for Sisters in studies at London’s University of Western Ontario; property at 353 and 534 Queens Avenue was purchased as a residence for Sisters; Sisters were missioned to housekeeping duties at the Holy Family Retreat House which the Diocese opened in Oxley, on Lake Erie; St. Mary’s Hospital building project was completed and opened in 1951; Catholic Central High School was opened and a private school at Sacred Heart Convent began; a summer home was purchased in Kingsville for the Sisters; a new mission for Sisters in Yellowknife, NT was established; Holy Rosary Convent in Windsor was purchased to replace the overcrowded Cadillac Street convent; two Sisters went to Ireland to seek new candidates; an aspirancy was opened to train young women interested in becoming Sisters; St. Joseph’s House of Studies was opened in Windsor; new Constitutions were approved and sod was turned for a new Motherhouse at Mount St. Joseph.

Under Mother Margaret Coughlin, the “Ireland project” was initiated and Sisters were sent to Ireland in the hopes of recruiting young women interested in joining the congregation. The Superiors’ Institute was initiated in 1958 along with a tertianship program for Sisters, and held at Holy Rosary Convent in the summer with Rev. Embser, C. S. B, assisted by Sister Mary Angela Flaherty. In 1950, Mother Margaret and Sister Placidia Walsh went on a Holy Year pilgrimage to Rome, Italy, and visited the Sisters of St. Joseph in Le Puy and Lyon, France, to celebrate the Sisters of St. Joseph’s tercentenary. During her trip to Rome, she consulted with Monsignor Elio Gambari concerning papal approbation of the congregation’s rule, and as a result the Constitutions received Pontifical Approbation on July 11, 1953.

Mother Margaret Coughlin was deeply involved in the designing of the chapel of the new Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse. It was she who insisted the windows from the old chapel should be incorporated into the new one. In designing the Chapel, her love of the Eucharist shone through as she worked with the architect and artisans to produce a masterpiece of artistry from the wrought iron grill, the pews and sanctuary furnishings which all bore hand-carved grapes and wheat design, symbolic of the Eucharist. The formal opening of the new Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse on June 20, 1954, presented to the people of London a building with heraldic towers and a beautiful chapel with stained glass windows personally chosen by her in consultation with the artist, Guido Polloni, of Florence, Italy.

The Superiors’ Institute was initiated in 1958 along with a tertianship program for Sisters, held at Holy Rosary Convent in the summer with Rev. Embser, C.S.B., assisted by Sister Mary Angela Flaherty. When Sister Julia Moore was elected General Superior in 1962, Mother Margaret remained as an elected Council member. She encouraged the opening of the first foreign mission in Cayalti, Chiclayo Diocese in Peru. A new regional house, St. Joseph’s Convent, was opened in Edmonton, AB. She helped to plan for Ignatia Hall - a home for the senior Sisters and the sick, which was completed in 1969. It was she who suggested that Ignatia Hall be so named since Mother Ignatia must not be forgotten. Mother Margaret died on December 2, 1980.

Kirwin, 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 on January 3, 1948. She took the name Sister Mary Leo. 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.

McCarthy, Mechtilde
Person · January 1, 1862-June 12, 1943

Susan McCarthy was born on January 1, 1862, at Maidstone, Essex County, Ontario. She was one of eleven children born to Jeremiah McCarthy and Susan McMahon. She joined the Sisters of St. Joseph congregation in London, Ontario, and received the habit on March 19, 1881, taking her final vows on December 8, 1883, at Mount Hope. Her religious name was Sister Mechtilde McCarthy. She taught at St. Peter’s School, London for 22 years and at the Roman Catholic school in Goderich for two years. In 1911 she was appointed Superior at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London The chapel at St. Joseph’s Hospital was built under the guidance of Sister Mechtilde. It is of classic Renaissance architecture and Romanesque design. The whole chapel was a model of artistic taste and reflects on Sister Mechtilde under whose supervision it was erected. As the growth of the hospital kept pace with the city, an urgent need for larger facilities was realized and in 1914 work was begun to the west of the main building on an addition embodying the latest and best ideas of hospital construction and equipment.

In 1917, she was elected General Superior of the congregation. At that time there were 185 Sisters in the Community and the number of aged at the House of Providence was 212. The orphans at Mount St. Joseph orphanage numbered 231. In the Roman Catholic Schools the pupils numbered 1161 and in the hospitals there were 2573 patients. During her term of office she began a foundation in Edmonton which included a novitiate. A Eucharistic Congress was held at Mount St. Joseph in July 1923. The Community received approbation of the 1920 Constitutions which had been requested by Bishop Fallon in 1917. During her term of office, she began a foundation in Edmonton which included a novitiate. She left the office of General Superior in 1923 and continued mission work at St. Mary’s, Ingersoll, Belle River and at St. Joseph’s Hospital in London, Ontario in 1934. She was General Superior from 1917-1923. She died on June 12, 1943.

Moore, Julia
Person · November 30, 1911-October 5th, 1995

Julia Cecilia Moore was born on November 30, 1911, to Francis (Frank) Joseph Moore (d. 1938) and Julia Camilla Coughlin (d. 1965) in St. Thomas, Ontario. Active in the St. Thomas community growing up, Cecilia was a summer lifeguard at Alma College Pool, and served as recreational director at her alma mater, St. Joseph’s High School, during her college years in the 1930’s. Having obtained an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and French from the University of Western Ontario, Cecilia went on to obtain a high school assistant certificate in English and History from the Ontario College of Education in Toronto. Cecilia entered the congregation in London, Ontario in 1935 at Sacred Heart Convent and received the habit and religious name of Sister Julia on August 25th, 1936. She professed her first vows on August 25th, 1938, and her final vows on August 25th, 1941 in the Chapel of Sacred Heart Convent. Sister Julia began teaching at St. Michael’s School in London, with teaching assignments at Roman Catholic high schools in St. Thomas and Sarnia, during which time she completed a Master of Arts Degree in French at Laval University. She eventually became the principal at Catholic Central High School in London. After two years as a principal, Sister Julia was elected General Superior in 1959. She held the position until 1971, then served four years as a General Councilor.

Her leadership had an impact on many aspects of the Sisters of St. Joseph’s involvement in education, health care, social work, retreat work and missions in Peru and Northern Canada. Mother Julia was also named Health Care Coordinator of the community, serving five hospitals and two chronic care hospitals. She was the Superior of the community of Sisters at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and a member of the pastoral care team, during which time she studied theology and scripture during a sabbatical year at Regina Mundi College in Rome. In 1979, Mother Julia returned to Mount St. Joseph where she directed retreats, and served as a spiritual director as well as a historian for the Congregation, and a consultant for the archives department. Mother Julia’s work, Beginnings in London Diocese 1868-1879, was presented to the Canadian Catholic Historical Society in 1978 and published by the London Roman Catholic School Board. Mother Julia died on October 5th, 1995.