Today, the Sisters of St. Joseph celebrate the anniversary of their formal foundation in 1650. In a society where women were not expected to be either pioneers or innovators, those first sisters had the courage and creativity to become both. In a church where nuns were cloistered, they pioneered a new form of religious life. Living in small groups, they went into the neighborhoods to meet the needs of the people. The spirit that energized their action was a conviction that all are one in God’s love and are united to and responsible for one another. It is interesting to reflect how pertinent this vision is in the light of what we know now through modern science. The Gospel call that inspired them was the Gospel call to all Christians: ”Love one another as I have loved you”. That love enabled them, without resources or power, to set out to do “whatever was necessary” to serve their neighbors and try to “cure the ills” of their time.
May we all continue to live out the great commandment of love of God and neighbor.
Reflect on the question:” Who is my neighbor?” In the light of a 21st century understanding of the universe, what does that mean to you? How can it guide your actions and attitudes toward all others?
Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? ” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
“…we participate in the mission of Jesus who came to bring about the reign of God by revealing God’s love and by healing, redeeming and liberating all people. This mission challenges us to discern the needs of the times and to respond with courage and fidelity by undertaking whatever ministries may best bring about the union which is our purpose. With reverence for all creation, we work to secure the human dignity of all persons, especially the poor and oppressed.”
Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, NY
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, 2011
As a congregation we are committed to enabling the mission of Jesus to unfold and continue into the future. Our Chapter Direction Statement affirms our belief in the power, presence and love of God working through an evolving universe. God is love and love is the energy that makes everything precious and alive. The outpouring of God’s self in love is creation. God is still creating and we are active participants in the new creation taking place in our midst.
Helen Kearney, CSJ, 2014
The basic desire of the Sisters of Saint Joseph is to reflect a “profound love of God and neighbor without distinction.” Our mission is to live and work so that all may be one. By building relational communities wherever we live and serve, we keep this mission alive. Whether we are among people who live in pockets of poverty and neglect, in middle class neighborhoods, or in areas of greater affluence, we are “sisters of the neighborhood” trying to meet the varied needs of people and to create centers of relationship and unity. True to the dream of our foundresses, we continue to “divide the city, seek the ills and cure them.” In the context of their times, the original Sisters of Saint Joseph were mostly uneducated women. Today, every woman who joins the congregation receives the education necessary to fulfill her ministry. Sisters of Saint Joseph can be found in soup kitchens, shelters, universities, schools, hospitals, courtrooms, prisons, retreat centers, offices, nursing homes, laboratories, studios and hospices. We are educators, lawyers, doctors, nurses, family therapists, social workers, patient advocates, spiritual directors, parish ministers, theologians, psychologists, physical therapists, administrators, artists, authors, musicians, poets and a myriad of other things. We still seek to do, as our history tells us, “Whatever is possible for women to do” and in our present society, we know this is simply everything.
Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph