History of the Centre
In October of 2000, the French Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph hosted a celebration and a "colloque" in honor of the 350th anniversary of our foundation. Representatives of the various Federations and International Congregations were invited to an initial meeting in April 2002 to discuss the concept of such a Centre, and its feasibility. On April 11, 2002, seventeen Sisters of St. Joseph, representing Congregations and Federations with more than 14,000 Sisters worldwide, gathered in Le Puy en Velay. These Sisters recognized the presence and call of the charism as experienced by women and men around the planet, and the desire to fan the flame of the charism in the hearts of all our members. Grounded in this dream, they reached a decision to proceed with the project and to form an international committee to make the Centre a reality.
The Committee consisted of approximately 10 persons.
One representative from each of the four Federations:
- French: Sr. Catherine Barange
- Italian: Sr. Gemma Delmasso
- US: Sr. Kathy McClusky
- Canadian: Sr. Mary Diesbourg
Representatives from each of the three International Congregatons:
- Annecy: Sr. Marie Louise Veuillet
- Chambéry: Sr. Barbara Bozak
Lyon: Sr. Janet Gagnon and Sr. Catherine Fromager
When possible, a representative from the Sisters in Argentina was present. Sr. Raquel Pividori who was studying in Lyon attended the meetings for 1 year.
A facilitator: Sr. Phyllis Manda (US).
Translators were secured for English, French, Italian and Spanish when possible.
Together, these eight persons represent all the Sisters of St. Joseph formed from the Medaille roots, in the world today.
The work of the committee consisted of the following:
- discerning the movement of the Spirit in this idea,
- developing the vision and mission statement for the Centre,
- finding the resources to begin, including a house,
- forming a legal Corporation ( in France called an "Association") to establish the legitimacy of the Centre,
- selecting a Staff and planning the opening celebrations.
At the meeting in May 2004, the Corporation held its first official meeting. A Board of Directors was named and the following officers selected:
- President: Janet Gagnon (Lyon)
- Vice President: Kathy McCluskey (USA)
- Secretary: Barbara Bozak, (Chambéry)
- Treasurer: Catherine Fromager (Lyon)
The others on the committee remained members of the Board with the exception of Mary Diesbourg (London, Ontario, Canada), who became Director of the Centre. Mary was replaced on the Board by Linda McIsaac (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada)
The Centre officially opened, October 15, 2004, at the house in Aiguilhe, given for our use by the Sisters of the Insitute St. Joseph. The first staff consisted of Mary Diesbourg, (London, Ontario, Canada), Josette Gocella, (Erie, Pennsylvania, USA), Sheila Holly, (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA).