Missions at Home and Abroad
Father Médaille looked for a missionary spirit in the hearts of the women who joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in the seventeenth century. In his Maxims, he encouraged others to "... embrace by desire the salvation and holiness of the whole world with a spirit full of generous courage which will move you to want to do everything, to suffer everything, and to undertake everything for the advancement of the glory of God." (Maxims of the Little Institute, # 7.)
When he died in 1669, the Sisters had already moved to five other dioceses beyond that of Le Puy-en-Velay. By the beginning of the French Revolution (1789) some 150 houses had been established throughout the south-central regions of France.
Only in the nineteenth century, following the Napoleonic-Papal decrees to centralize religious communities under diocesan motherhouses, did missionary activity extend beyond France to all the continents of our world.
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 twentieth century: 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 was opened in Guatemala in 1968. Since then Sisters have served in Hong Kong, Sierra Leone and Ghana in Africa, as well as in Nicaragua, Honduras and Haiti.
Sisters are still present in these last two countries. Truly Father Médaille’s maxim, quoted above, has been and is still being lived, with zeal and courage by our Sisters.
By Grace Sauvé CSJ