Series F01-S101 - Receptions and professions series

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Title proper

Receptions and professions series

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  • Multiple media

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  • Source of title proper: Title is based on the contents of the series.

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Series

Reference code

CA ON00279 F01-S101

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area

Date(s)

  • 1871-2006 (Creation)
    Creator
    Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada (London, Ont.)

Physical description area

Physical description

54.5 cm of textual records (17 volumes)
38 photographs : b&w
11 photographs : col.

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Archival description area

Name of creator

(1868-2012)

Administrative history

The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Diocese of London, in Ontario was first incorporated on February 15, 1891 under chapter 92 of the Statutes of Ontario, 1870-1. London, Ontario is on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lūnaapéewak, and Attawandaron Peoples.

On December 11, 1868, at the request of Bishop John Walsh, five Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto arrived in London, Ontario. Mother Teresa Brennan, Sister Ignatia Campbell, Sister Ursula McGuire, Sister Francis O’Malley and Sister Appolonia Nolan were accompanied by Reverend Mother Antoinette McDonald and were welcomed by Bishop Walsh, Rev. J.M. Bruyere, V.G., and Rev. P. Egan, pastor of St. Peter’s Church. Awaiting the Sisters were sleighs that transported them from the train station to a temporary home at 170 Kent Street.

In accordance with their mission in London, three Sisters began teaching at St. Peter’s School in January, 1869. After classes, they visited the sick, the poor and the imprisoned. They were also mandated to open an orphanage in the future. In order to accomplish these tasks, more Sisters and larger facilities were necessary.

On October 2, 1869, the Barker House at the corner of Richmond and College Street in North London was purchased and the Sisters moved there from Kent Street. The building was named Mount Hope, and it became the first Motherhouse of the Sisters, eventually housing the elderly, orphans, Sisters and novices.

On December 18, 1870, the Sisters of St. Joseph became an autonomous congregation in the London diocese, independent of the Toronto congregation. Sister Ignatia Campbell was appointed Superior General, an office she held until 1902. On February 15, 1871, the congregation became legally incorporated.

On October 7, 1877, an addition was made to Mount Hope. This building stood until it was demolished on August 3, 1980, surrounded by the growing healthcare institutions founded by the Sisters, beginning with St. Joseph’s Hospital which opened at 268 Grosvenor Street on October 15, 1888, and followed by the opening of St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1895, and the construction of a new nursing school building in 1927, which saw its last graduation in 1977. On May 1, 1951, St. Mary’s Hospital was opened, followed by Marian Villa on January 12, 1966. In 1985, the hospital complex was renamed St. Joseph’s Health Centre, and ownership was transferred in 1993 to St. Joseph’s Health Care Society.

But it was not only in London that Sisters saw the need for healthcare and nursing education. On October 15, 1890, they opened St. Joseph’s Hospital on Centre Street in Chatham, Ontario, which remained under their control until 1993. In 1895, they opened St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing, which saw its last graduation in 1970. On October 18, 1946, they opened St. Jospeh’s Hospital at 290 North Russell Street in Sarnia which remained under their control until 1993. In Alberta, they administered St. Joseph’s Hospital in Stettler (1926), St. Joseph’s Hospital in Galahad (1927), the General Hospital in Killam (1930), and St. Paul’s Hospital in Rimbey (1932).

On April 10, 1899, the Sisters opened Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse, Novitiate and Orphanage at the former Hellmuth College at 1486 Richmond Street North in London. The orphans were moved to this new location from Mount Hope, which remained a home for the elderly and was renamed House of Providence on June 3, 1899. The orphanage remained at Mount St. Joseph until it was moved to Fontbonne Hall in 1953 (to 1967). The original Hellmuth College building was demolished in 1976.

Later, on September 14, 1914, the Motherhouse and Novitiate moved to Sacred Heart Convent at Colborne and Dundas Streets in London, with the orphans remaining at Mount St. Joseph. The Sisters lived at Sacred Heart Convent until 1953, when they moved back to the newly built Mount St. Joseph, on the original location of the former Hellmuth College. The new Motherhouse and Novitiate was officially opened on June 29, 1954. It was here that they continued a private girls’ school which had begun in 1950 at Sacred Heart Convent, and was now known as Mount St. Joseph Academy (to 1985). It was here too that they continued a music school which had also begun at Sacred Heart Convent and was now called St. Joseph’s School of Music (to 1982). The Médaille Retreat Centre began here in 1992, and the Sisters also administered a Guest Wing for relatives of hospitalized patients (to 2005). The Sisters departed Mount St. Joseph for their new residence, a green building at 485 Windermere Road in London, in 2007.

On September 4, 1873, St. Joseph’s Convent opened at 131 North Street in Goderich, Ontario, followed by other convents in Ontario, including Ingersoll (1879), St. Thomas (1879), Belle River (1889), Windsor (1894), Sarnia (1906), Kingsbridge (1911), Seaforth (1913), St. Mary’s (1913), Woodstock (1913), Kinkora (1916), Paincourt (1923), Maidstone (1930), Leamington (1932), Delhi (1938), Tillsonburg (1938), Simcoe (1938), Langton (1939), West Lorne (1957), and Zurich (1963)

The Sisters also opened missions in other parts of Canada, including in Alberta: Edmonton (1922), Wetaskiwin (1929), St. Bride’s (1934); and in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories Yellowknife (1953), and in British Columbia in Haney, now Maple Ridge (1956), and Rutland (1970). Branching even further afield, Convento San Jose was opened in Chiclayo, Peru in 1962.

Over the years, as well as their service as teachers in the separate school system, as music teachers, as healthcare workers, as nursing educators, in providing care to orphans, and in providing parish ministry, pastoral care, and administering spiritual retreats, the Sisters were also involved in social service ministry. In Windsor, they opened the Roy J. Bondy Centre on September 13, 1970 which was a receiving home for the Children’s Aid Society, withdrawing in 1982 but continuing to provide residential care for disabled children afterward. In London, they opened Internos, a residence for teenage girls attending school and later for troubled teens (to 1979). This was followed by the opening of St. Joseph’s Detoxification Centre on September 13, 1973 (to 2005) and St. Stephen’s House, an alcoholic recovery centre on February 1, 1982 (to 2000). Loughlin House in London opened as a residence for ex-psychiatric female patients in 1986 (to 1989), followed by the Home for Women in Need at 534 Queens Avenue in 1979 (to 2004). Later, St. Josephs’ House for Refugees was opened in 1987 (to 2005), followed by St. Joseph’s Hospitality Centre, a food security program, on February 2, 1983.

On November 22, 2012, the congregation amalgamated with those in Hamilton, Peterborough, and Pembroke into one charitable corporation under the name Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada Act, a Private Act of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario which received Royal Assent on June 13, 2013.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This series contains material related to the receptions and professions of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Diocese of London, Ontario. The records are primarily concerned with Sisters who had their receptions and professions in London, Ontario and at the mission in Edmonton, Alberta. This series includes records related to the vows and vow ceremonies, which are the rituals involved in becoming a member of a religious community. These ceremony records include correspondence, invitations, seating charts, guest lists, and forms of vows. The first receptions occurred at Mount Hope which was the Sisters’ first motherhouse in London, and a historical summary of those early ceremonies is present. There are also scripts for speeches and homilies and written accounts. Photographs, prayers, and ephemera including booklets, programs, and newspaper clippings from these ceremonies are also present. One pamphlet is from the 1987 Profession of the Sisters of St. Michael the Archangel of the Diocese of Ekiti, Nigeria. Various lists of Sisters’ ceremony dates, stages of religious life, deaths and withdrawals are also included. The vows present here are primarily in bound volumes, though some are on individual sheets of paper. Many of the volumes have related correspondence, renewals, or scripts for the vows (referred to as forms) tucked or pasted within. The vows are generally formulaic, though some are unique. Some, mainly first vows, list the Sisters’ hometown, age, and parents.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

These records were transferred to the archives by the congregational leadership.

Arrangement

Order was imposed by the archivist. Some volumes of textual records had an existing order which, when present, was followed.

Language of material

    Script of material

      Location of originals

      The records are located at The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada Archives.

      Availability of other formats

      Restrictions on access

      F01-S101-01-02 contains material which is restricted from public access due to privacy concerns.
      The Archives reserves the right to restrict access to the collection depending on the condition of the archival material, the amount of material requested, and the purpose of the research. The use of certain materials may also be restricted for reasons of privacy or sensitivity, or under a donor agreement. Access restrictions will be applied equally to all researchers and reviewed periodically. No researcher will be given access to any materials that contain a personal information bank such as donor agreements or personnel records, or to other proprietary information such as appraisals, insurance valuations, or condition reports.

      Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

      Permission to study archival records does not extend to publication or display rights. The researcher must request this permission in writing from the Archives.

      Finding aids

      Series and file list available.

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      Related materials

      Accruals

      No further accruals are expected.

      General note

      Receptions and professions (also referred to as vows) are critical rituals of becoming a Sister of St. Joseph of the Diocese of London, Ontario. The first step was to become a postulant, during which time a woman would enter the motherhouse and begin learning and living by the constitution of the Sisters of St. Joseph. After a minimum of six months, the postulancy ended and the reception occurred. At the reception ceremony, a postulant dressed in a wedding gown as a bride of Christ, made the reception agreement, received her religious name, and received the Holy Habit. She was then a novice and began the canonical year, a one-year period where she would take no work outside the community and would study the charism, vows, and life of the Sisters of St. Joseph. In her second year, a novice could do outside ministry but could not fill professional roles, such as a nurse. After around two years, a novice would take first vows, sometimes referred to as temporary vows. As a postulant and novice, the prospective Sisters lived in the novitiate, a wing of the motherhouse, and after taking the first vows she would move to the juniorate for three to six years. During this time, she would renew her temporary vows annually. Then came the final vows, also called the perpetual profession, in which she would officially become a professed Sister.

      The process to become a Sister varies over time, usually regarding terminology and time requirements. However, the main elements of receptions, first vows, and final vows remain consistent. The Sisters’ vows were of chastity, poverty, and obedience and were made to dedicate themselves to religious life. The vows generally follow similar formulas at each stage, though some Sisters did write unique individual vows.

      Receptions and professions ceremonies were usually held in the chapel of the respective motherhouse or at a local basilica with the General Superior and a bishop present. Locations for the ceremonies in London, Ontario include but are not limited to Mount Hope Motherhouse, Sacred Heart Convent, Mount St. Joseph Motherhouse, and St. Peter’s Basilica. The ceremonies at the mission in Edmonton, Alberta were held at Sacred Heart Convent.

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      Status

      Draft

      Level of detail

      Partial

      Dates of creation, revision and deletion

      March 14, 2024

      Language of description

        Script of description

          Sources

          Caillouette, Theresa Marie, pers. comm.

          Accession area