Friday, November 27, 2020
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Visiting the Birthplace of the Sisters of St. Joseph

From the Fall 2015 issue of Springs of Hope:
As part of an ongoing pilot formation project, the Leadership Team sent some of their lay staff this past October (2015) to a Mission Effectiveness Workshop in Le Puy-en-Velay, France, where the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph was founded in 1650. 
Including me, there were 18 lay staff present from Canada, the United States and Brazil with two facilitators and one Portuguese interpreter.  
During the week of presentations and visiting historical sites, I learned a great deal about the Sisters’ history in France. Despite the difficult political climate of 17th century France and living conditions in Le Puy at that time, the first Sisters somehow managed to organize themselves. 
They were motivated by love for God to be compassionately present and serve the needs of the people who were marginalized in their village. They were devoted to caring for their dear neighbours no matter who those people were. Their history is truly amazing.
From the very beginning, these Sisters were not working alone. People believed in the work that they were doing and wanted them to succeed. Many supported and helped the Sisters even when it was not safe to do so. They were true partners in their mission. 
Jumping ahead 365 years: the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto, through their many Congregational works, are still rolling up their sleeves and meeting the growing needs of marginalized individuals.  Fontbonne Ministries continues the Sisters’ tradition of nurturing community and assisting with the food, shelter, education and other needs of our neighbours. 
Through various community collaborations, the support of 180 active donors and close to 23,000 volunteer hours, it’s clear that even today, people want to be partners in the Sisters’ mission and assist with their new projects. My time in Le Puy has solidified my point of view that it’s not specifically what the Sisters take on but how and why they do what they do that really matters.
Vickie McNally
Development & Communications
Fontbonne Ministries



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