Friday, November 27, 2020
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The Sisters of St. Joseph first arrived in Toronto in 1851. Within a year, they took action to respond to the desperate need for Catholic schoolteachers in Toronto and the neighbouring towns and villages. By 1900, the majority of Toronto Catholic elementary schools were staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Christian Brothers.

They went on to make an impact in the area of women’s education. In 1854, they opened St. Joseph’s Academy, a private day and boarding school for girls in their first motherhouse on Power Street. St. Joseph’s Academy offered primary and high school studies. It was later renamed St. Joseph’s College School and is now located on Wellesley Street West. Today, the school continues its long tradition of educating young women by focusing on their intellectual, physical, social and creative abilities in a Catholic, faith-filled environment.

The Sisters founded five girls’ high schools in the Toronto area: St. Joseph’s College School, St. Joseph’s Morrow Park High School, St. Joseph’s High School, Islington (now Michael Power/St. Joseph’s High School), St. Joseph’s Commercial School and in Oshawa, Msgr. Paul Dwyer Catholic High School. The Sisters also established three schools of nursing attached to their hospitals with two in Toronto and one in Winnipeg.

In the years leading up to 1911, the Sisters were committed to providing post-secondary opportunities to young women for teacher training and university degrees. In 1911, St. Joseph’s College was established alongside Loretto College for women students of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.

Today, some Sisters are engaged in education at the graduate and post-graduate level. Other Sisters respond to the spiritual, social and practical needs of others in a variety of ways: spiritual direction, parish ministries with a focus on spirituality, ministry to mature adults, sacramental preparation and drop-in programs that teach life skills and build community.

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