Sister Delphine Fontbonne: Five Groundbreaking Year
On Feb. 7, 1856, Sister Delphine Fontbonne, founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto, died in Toronto. In her last letter, written on Jan. 18 of the same year to Sister Felicity, she sounded besieged, alluding to the typhus epidemic that had claimed some Sisters and laid others low, of another Sister dying of tuberculosis, of being far too busy to write.
She had arrived with three other much younger Sisters of St. Joseph in 1851. Yet during that short time, she:
- Transformed the children’s orphanage she was asked to take over into a well-organized establishment
- Built a Motherhouse on the St. Paul's Church property which included an academy for the education of young women
- Helped lay the groundwork for the House of Providence
- Sent three Sisters to Hamilton where they were soon working in schools and caring for the sick, the aged and orphans
- Sponsored 65 women from Ireland who found work positions in the city
- Found and helped form 50 new novices for the congregation
- It was on this splendid groundwork that the Canadian congregation was established.
by Gisela Côté