Today, the Sisters of St. Joseph celebrate the anniversary of their formal foundation in 1650. On this day, we remember the courage and creativity of those first sisters, who in a society where women were not expected to be either pioneers or innovators managed to become both. The spirit that energized their action was a conviction that all are one in God’s love and we are united to and responsible for one another. The Gospel call that inspired them is 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 neighbor and try to “cure the ills” of their time. Their vision survived the French Revolution and inspired others to join them, so that now, 367 years later, the congregation exists worldwide, still working to spread the vision of love expressed through unity and service.
May we continue to live guided by love of God and neighbor.
Reflect on the question:” Who is my neighbor?” In the light of a 21st century understanding of the world, 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. ”
I came not to be served but to serve.
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
“…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, Brentwood, NY, 2011
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 – air, 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.
Sisters of St. Joseph Land Ethic Statement, 201
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