The vibrant spirit of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet lives on today in the students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and parents. In each and every individual that passes through the campus, and encounters a member of the OLP community. We are the inheritors of their legacy, those who have been caught by the charism, transformed by our experience, bestowed with the gift, and blessed to now take this out into the world....
In 1650 Le Puy, France, six sisters came together to begin an order that would live outside convent walls, and whose purpose would be to serve the people of God. Although many came without a dowry or formal education, they would grow rapidly, training young women in one of the highest technological skills of the time - lacemaking. Quickly, they would multiply, creating more houses to serve others. Theirs was a mission that called them to "all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy of which women are capable, and that will most benefit the dear neighbor." Over the next 100 years, more than 150 communities of Sisters of St. Joseph would be established across France.
Following the French Revolution, many Sisters of St. Joseph were forced to disperse, and five were killed at the guillotine. Mother St. John Fontbonne, was one such leader who refused to denounce her faith and was impressed. Thankfully her life was spared, and thirteen years following her release, at the request of the Bishop, she went on to guide a group of women called the "Black Daughters, and reconstitute the Sisters of St. Joseph in Lyon. It is from there that the sisters arrived in Carondelet, Missouri in 1836.
The original sisters that arrived in the small town of Carondelet, just outside of St. Louis, established an Institute for the Deaf, educated the poor and children of freed slaves, and worked to establish hospitals, schools, and ministries, Their ministries expanded throughout the United States as they moved out West with the Trek of the Seven for Tucson in 1870, and eventual established the Academy of Our Lady of Peace in 1882
Spirit and Charism
The spirit and charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph calls us to "unifying love" with God and with the "dear neighbor without distinction." The gospel message that informs the mission of our Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet comes from John 17:21, "that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us." This mission draws us in to relationship with God, our "dear neighbor," and all of creation. The spirituality of our Sisters of St. Joseph informs how we interact within creation, uniting neighbor with neighbor, and neighbor with God, without distinction, so that all may be one.
The spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph all draws on two traditions, both the Ignatian and Salesian orders, which informs our "orientation towards excellence, tempered by gentleness, peace, joy" (Consensus Statement of the Central Ideas of Jean-Pierre Medaille, SJ, Found in the Primitive Constitutions). Both the Ignatian and Salesian traditions find their way into our Integral Student Outcomes (ISOs), as we seek to build up women of faith, women of heart, women of courage, and women of excellence.
Another element of the spirituality of our Sisters are the Maxims of Perfection and the Sharing of the Heart. You can read more about these below.