Spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph

The mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph is rooted in the mission of Jesus, the same mission which continually unfolds in the church: "that all may be one…" (John 17:21) This mission is lived through a spirituality of relationships: with God, with one another, with all people and with all of creation.

Active and inclusive love animates us to build relational communities wherever we live and serve. Our mission as Sisters of St. Joseph is always current in a world which yearns for love and justice.

The kitchen at Le Puy, home of the Centre International

Brief History of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph

The Sisters of Saint Joseph came into being in the Massif Central region of 17th century France. Touched by the misery they saw around them, small groups of women came together. They shared a common dream: to dedicate themselves to God, to live among the people, and to address the needs of the poor. These women cared for the sick, the aged, orphans, and the imprisoned. They instructed young girls, guided devout women in their faith, and worked tirelessly to alleviate suffering. Under the guidance and with the encouragement of Jean Pierre Medaille, a Jesuit priest, the first groups of Sisters of Saint Joseph came into being. In 1650, the group in Le Puy-en-Velay was formally recognized as a religious congregation by their bishop, Henri de Maupas. By the time of the French Revolution, small communities had spread throughout south-central France. The congregation opened religious life to women of all classes.

Caught in the political turmoil of the French Revolution, many communities of the congregation disbanded. Some Sisters were martyred at the guillotine; some were imprisoned; others returned to their homes or went into hiding. Once the Revolution ended, sisters began to re-gather into communities to minister to a people torn by war. One such re-founding took place at the request of the Bishop of Lyon and under the leadership of Mother St. John Fontbonne. A large community flourished and expanded from that foundation to other parts of Europe, to the Americas and beyond. So vast was this growth, that in this 21st century, some 13,000 Sisters of St. Joseph serve in 55 nations.

Today the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph is lived through a spirituality of relationships: with God, with one another, with all people and with all of creation. Sisters of St. Joseph can be found in soup kitchens, shelters for the homeless, clinics, universities, schools, hospitals, neighborhood centers, courtrooms, prisons, retreat centers, offices, nursing homes, laboratories, studios and hospices. Sisters are teachers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, social workers, patient advocates, spiritual directors, parish ministers, theologians, psychologists, physical therapists, administrators, artists, authors, musicians, poets and a host of other things.

Together, Sisters, Associates and Lay Partners seek to bring about one earth community of love, unity and reconciliation. In this conflicted 21st century world, they strive to live the mission with such integrity that their very existence speaks to contemporary society as a positive influence for transformation.

Sisters of St. Joseph

Congregations / Federations

Here are links to our member Congregations and Federations. If you are looking for a Congregation that is not listed here, please visit the web site of the Federation to which they belong.

International Congregations:


Centre International

Notre Dame de Frame