Sisters take part in a feet washing ceremony

Spirituality

The spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph is centered in love, the central commandment of Jesus—a love that seeks to achieve unity of neighbor with neighbor and neighbor with God.

Lace serves as an important symbol for us. Lace was one of the mainstays of the economy of the city of Le Puy-en-Velay, France where the congregation was founded in 1650, and it was a source of income for our early sisters and the women they served.

Like that lace, the design of the love that guides us weaves together several threads:

  • Self-emptying love in the example of Jesus who emptied himself…never excluding the more humble, the less pleasing, the less noticeable
  • Sincere charity in the example of Joseph…with eyes open, ears attentive, spirit alert, sleeves rolled up
  • An Ignatian climate with an orientation towards excellence… never settled down, always in a holy disquietude, searching…in order to understand, to divine what God and the dear neighbor awaits from her today
  • A Salesian climate of gentleness, peace, joy… in her face the reflection of the virtue proper to our congregation, continual joy of spirit.

Our spirituality is captured by the two descriptions below, both written by Jesuits 300 years apart.

Consensus Statement of Sisters of St. Joseph

by Jean-Pierre Medaille, SJ

Stimulated by the Holy Spirit of Love and receptive to those inspirations
the Sister of Saint Joseph moves always towards
profound love of God and
love of neighbor without distinction
from whom she does not separate herself
and for whom, in the following of Christ
she works in order to achieve unity
of neighbor with neighbor
and neighbor with God
directly in this apostolate
and indirectly through works of charity
-in humility – the spirit of the Incarnate Word
(Philippians 2:5-8)
-in sincere charity (cordiale charité)
the manner of Saint Joseph whose name she bears
-in an Ignatian-Salesian climate: that is, with an
orientation towards excellence (Le dépassement, le plus)
tempered by gentleness (douceur), peace, joy.

Portrait of a Daughter of St. Joseph

by Marius Nepper, SJ

Eyes open
on a world both miserable and sinful,
but a world worked on by the Holy Spirit;

Eyes open and ears attentive
to the suffering of the world;

Eyes open, ears attentive and spirit alert,
never settled down, always in a holy disquietude,
searching…in order to understand
to divine what God and
the dear neighbor awaits from her
today, now, for the body and for the soul;

Eyes open, ears attentive, spirit alert…
sleeves rolled up for ministry,
without excluding
the more humble, the less pleasing,
the less noticeable;
Finally, in her face the reflection of the virtue
proper to our Congregation,
“continual joy of spirit.”

This is the quiet inner glow
of the Sister whose life in the service of Jesus Christ
has been successful.

Then & now

THEN: 1650

Six women in a kitchen with a new recipe for religious life

Under the guidance of an itinerant Jesuit missionary in the south of France, six women gathered together in a kitchen to discern and develop a new way to live religious life. Their charism, their mission was to achieve unity—of neighbor with neighbor and of neighbor with God. The parameters of their apostolate were defined by Fr. Jean Pierre Medaille, SJ.: [The Sisters] shall practice all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy of which women are capable and that will most benefit the dear neighbor. The response of the sisters was to “divide the city,” canvassing ever-widening circles to respond to the needs of the people they encountered.

[The sisters] shall practice all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy of which women are capable and that will most benefit the dear neighbor.

Jean Pierre Medaille, SJ
Founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph
The kitchen in LePuy, France where the first sisters gathered.
One of our sisters from Hawaii leads prayer

NOW: 2021

The recipe renewed

At our 2019 gathering called a congregational chapter, the sister and associate delegates continued to see the needs—eyes open, ears attentive—and find ways to respond—sleeves rolled up—when they echo the works of Fr. Medaille as they commit themselves to articulate and authentically live our vows [and commitments] in ways that witness and speak to today’s realities.

The actions that follow from this commitment include:

  • Responding to the crisis of the Earth in her myriad realities
  • Deepening our awareness of our complicity and work toward dismantling interlocking systems of oppression
  • Walking with women as we claim our voice and work toward an inclusive church and society
  • Using our collective voice to accompany others in speaking their truth.

The Spirit calls us to live out our consecration in community and, with the strength that comes from our life together, to turn beyond ourselves to serve a world in need. We love freely. We live simply. We listen attentively. Thus, we realize our commitment to Jesus Christ by doing what He does, giving ourselves for others.

Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Constitution, No. 8

Everything is woven together… Since the beginning, the sisters and women associated with them have lived an apostolic spirituality: the weaving together of prayer and service—a constant rhythm between sitting in silence with our loving God, which moves us to go out to share God’s dream: that all may be one.

The living out of these commitments includes a variety of expressions in the United States, Japan and Peru. The type of tapestry might differ, but the goal is the same—to live, proclaim and promote unifying love.

Recent reflections

See all reflections.

Associate Suzanne Warner, our bus driver on the highway to heaven

The profound influence on the associate community Suzanne had is not to be forgotten. She served on and off over most of her 30-plus years as a Syracuse area coordinator. She graciously volunteered behind the scenes of many associate Commitment Weekends.

Working Toward Hope

My understanding of hope is based on theological and psychological understandings. Connecting the two is exciting and helpful. I have been exploring hope and changes in religious life, and most recently in relationship to COVID-19, our political reality and the many losses we are facing today.

I did not know what I did not know.

In light of the current Black Lives Matter Movement, many memories flooded back from my experience of the 1965 Watts riots. This was a time of awakening and conversion for me. Until the riots, I did not know what I did not know.

May I Speak Out … Against Racial Injustice

At that same meeting, the sisters called us to “bold conversation and prophetic action” to work toward dismantling systems of oppression. And I realized my silence was more than just a slip-up — it was part of perpetuating injustice.