Missions Near and Far
Father Médaille looked for a missionary spirit in the hearts of the women who joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in the 17th century. When he died in 1669, the Sisters had already moved to five other dioceses beyond Le Puy-en-Velay. By the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789, some 150 houses had been established throughout the south-central regions of France. In the 19th century, however, there were Napoleonic-Papal decrees to centralize religious communities under diocesan motherhouses. Only then did missionary activity extend beyond France to all continents of the world.
After the Toronto foundation of 1851, the Sisters of St. Joseph expanded throughout Ontario. In August 1881, the first far-off mission was established in what is now Thunder Bay with the heart-rending departure of five Sisters who never expected to see Toronto again. Even more distant Canadian missions followed in the 20th century. There were at least 14 houses in British Columbia (mainland and Vancouver Island): one in Edmonton, Alberta; two in Saskatchewan; seven in Manitoba; two in Quebec and two more in Northern Ontario. Today, Sisters are still present in Vancouver and Fort St. James, British Columbia; in Thompson, Manitoba and in Kapuskasing, Ontario.
The first foreign mission opened in Guatemala in 1968. Since then, Sisters have served in Hong Kong, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nicaragua, Honduras and Haiti. Sisters are still present in Honduras and involved in projects in Haiti.