Remembrance of Mother St. John Fontbonne
Refounder of the Sisters of St. Joseph
Tomorrow we honor the memory of Mother St. John Fontbonne. Jeanne Fontbonne was a woman who at the age of twenty-six was elected superior of a thriving convent and who was in prison in facing probable execution at the age of thirty-four. Because of the French Revolution, she was caught in the political turmoil of the times. She lost her convent and all its resources; her community was disbanded. Some of her sisters were martyred at the guillotine and others returned to their homes or went into hiding. She was persecuted because she would not reject her values and beliefs. Finally, she became a prisoner with no control over her future and with no recourse. There was nothing left around her, but, her inner conviction was the seed of new life. After the revolution had ended, Jeanne Fontbonne, who had narrowly escaped the guillotine, was called to refound the Sisters of St. Joseph, She did so successfully and her spirit is now the heritage of Sisters of St. Joseph everywhere.
May women of faith and courage continue to shape history.
Jeanne Fontbonne courageously responded to her moment in history.
What are we called to do in our time? How can we respond?
This valiant figure was a woman of great adaptability and flexibility, a woman of courage and daring, a woman bold in her undertaking, not because she was sure of her own strength, but because she relied on God’s loving Providence, and she placed her trust squarely there…She guided the sisters in seizing every opportunity to serve God and the dear neighbor. She asked of each of her sisters that same attentiveness born of intimate union with God and a loving compassionate service of the neighbor.
From Prayer Remembering Mother St. John
In whatever part of the world we may be, we are never exiled…in Europe, as well as in America, God is everywhere witness of our works and struggles…My entire wish is that you be saints, and that your communities be edifying. I implore God to pour down upon you God’s choicest blessings and assist you always with God’s grace.
Letter from Mother St. John to the Sisters in the United States
When they threatened her in prison with solitary confinement, she replied: “Which way do we go to get there?”
Quote from Mother St. John Fontbonne
O, my sisters, let us love one another.
Mother St. John Fontbonne
In your undertakings, see to it that God alone is their inspiration and their goal.
From Maxims of Perfection of the Sisters of St. Joseph
As Sisters of St. Joseph living in the 21st Century, we believe in the power, presence and love of God working through an evolving universe and in God’s self-communication through Jesus Christ. We see our charism of love of God and union with all neighbors as consistent within the context of our times and recommit ourselves to Jesus’ mission to bring about God’s reign. We seek to promote justice, be faithful to lives of non-violence and respond to the needs of women and other persons who are poor.
Direction Statement, Sisters of St. Joseph
We believe that we create the future as we move with the Spirit in giving full expression to our giftedness as women in the Church sharing equally in its mission—in living a life that is simple, prayerful, courageous and compassionate—in proclaiming with prophetic voice the Gospel to all people—in strengthening our corporateness as women in community—in demonstrating our belief in the dignity of the human person and the call to secure this dignity for all women and men—in expressing our solidarity with the poor and oppressed, in faith and hope we accept the challenges these beliefs imply.
Vision Statement, Sisters of St. Joseph
As Sisters of St. Joseph, our charism calls us to love of God and neighbor without distinction. We believe that all is one and that our call is to an active inclusive love that seeks this union with God and the sacred community of life that includes all of creation – soil, water, plants, and animals. We see ourselves in union with this community that we hold as the neighbor through whom God continues to be revealed. We acknowledge our responsibility to balance our communal needs and the needs of Earth community now and into the future.
Land Ethic Statement, Sisters of St. Joseph