Founded in 1843 in the Diocese of Tarbes – Lourdes, France It was in the spontaneous outflow of a source: Divine grace took possession of the heart of six young peasant girls at Cantaous in France and sowed in them the desire for a life consecrated to God.
Founded in 1843 in the Diocese of Tarbes – Lourdes, France
It was in the spontaneous outflow of a source: Divine grace took possession of the heart of six young peasant girls at Cantaous in France and sowed in them the desire for a life consecrated to God. Under the direction of Fr Bazerque, the Parish Priest, the girls formed the first community of the sisters of St Joseph on 14th August 1843, the eve of the Assumption of our Lady. Their motto was “GOD ALONE”.
The grain of mustard seed sown in Cantaous soon grew into a big tree. The growth in number and quality was almost immediate. From six sisters in 1843, the number rose to eight hundred in 1888. In 1889 the Congregation had one hundred and forty houses. This prosperity cost them dear: it was acquired at the price of incessant difficulties and crucifying trials which are the seal of God.
“Go into the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk. 16: 15) Our Foundresses understood very early that this experience of God, this sharing of his love in fraternal community, had to be proclaimed to the world through generous and disinterested service to those in need of their help. From its very beginnings, the Congregation engaged itself in education, care of the sick and countless humble services.
It was in the beginning of the year 1957 that Mother Genevieve Marie, the Superior General of the Sisters of St Joseph of Tarbes decided to start a community in England. Fr P Jacqemart, a French missionary and director of Catechetics for schools in Bangalore, happened to be in Paris in the same year for research in Catechetics. Canon Fr Francis H. Drinkwater from England was there at the same time for the same research. The latter knew of the need for Sisters in Tettenhall, which is part of the parish of Canterbury and so welcomed Fr Jacqemart’s information on this subject.
On his return to England from Paris, Canon Francis Drinkwater facilitated the proposal to bring the Sisters to Tettenhall. Fr Michael
McGrath was the parish priest. His Grace Francis Grimshaw, Archbishop of Birmingham at the time, patronized this proposal and invited the Sisters to his Diocese, gladly.
Following this, Mother Anne de St Joseph, Regional Superior of the Region of India who happened to be in France in 1957, went to England with Sr Monique to England to meet the Parish Priest of Wolver Hampton and to explore the possibility of starting a community there. .
A second visit that Mother Anne made was with Mother Genevieve Marie, the Superior General.
In the meantime Fr Drinkwater, who was quite familiar with the people, put the parish in touch with the Sisters. Five sisters: Mother Emmanuel Determes (superior), Sr Zita Wakefield, Sr Bernadette Marie D’Roza and Sr Genevieve Rozario, left Bangalore on the 29th June. They arrived in Sandy Lane. A school was started in the same year with 50 students. It was named St Thomas Canterbury School. Within a year the number increased to 150. The school flourished due to the faith, care, love and hard work of the sisters. The school later took on a new name – St Joseph’s Convent School.
Today the sisters are engaged in prison ministry and pastoral work.
To be updated
In 1881, at the request of Fr Maury, the director of the Society of the Foreign Missions in Paris, five sisters were sent to India. They were Sr Ansleme, Sr Marie de l’Assomption, Sr Aurelien, Sr Gervasie and Sr Marie Flavie.
On April 13th, 1882 the pioneers to India left the Mother House. They arrived in Pondicherry on 11th May 1882 and in Bangalore on 13th May. On May 31st 1882, the five Sisters cheerfully set to work at the Bowring Hospital. Though the Sisters could alleviate the physical pain of the patients, they were powerless to comfort the patients in their spiritual distress, due to their language handicap. None of them knew English leave alone any local language. The language they all knew was the language of love which they communicated through example and devotedness.
Later the Sisters were given charge of the kitchen and the Hospital linen. The Sisters looked after this work most efficiently and devotedly. Serving meals and distributing linen every day to over five hundred patients enabled them to keep in close touch with the sick.
On June 3rd 1889 St Francis Xavier School for European and Eurasians girls was established. On 21st August 1899 a school for the Indian children was established. It was named Rajamma Thamboochetty School after the name of its Benefactress.
The Charism of the Sisters of St Joseph of Tarbes is, “Rooted in the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit we are called together, to be for God and to be for others, to live and build Communion in our communities and the in the world.
Today we are 480 sisters in India in two Provinces and one Region – Province of Bangalore, Province of Mysore and Region of Jeevan Maithri.
In the Province of Bangalore we have 216 sisters.
In the Province of Mysore 200 sisters
In the Region of Jeevan Maithri, which is under the Province of Bangalore there are 64 sisters.
Our communities in the Province and Jeevan Maithri are spread over 7 States: Andhra, Chattisgarh, Jarkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and M.P.
We are engaged in education, medical, social and pastoral work.
The first sisters of St. Joseph of Tarbes came to Kenya from India in 1982. In Kenya, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Tarbes are currently working in nine dioceses i.e. Garissa, Lodwar, Machakos, Embu, Nyeri, Meru, Nakuru, Nairobi, and Mombasa with 19 small Communities or Mission stations. From Kenya, the sisters have also gone out as Missionaries to Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, France and USA.
We remain available to all God’s people through our service with a special option for the marginalized poor and vulnerable in the society. We respond enthusiastically to our call to Prayer and active ministry through our various apostolates such as Education and formation of the youths especially girls and future sisters, Pastoral /catechetical work in parishes & schools, Social ministry e.g. HIV/Aids programs & services, medical service /Nursing the sick& aged, Teaching, etc. to mention just but a few and all are served with the same love.
Thus, we are both contemplative and active witnesses of the Gospel of Christ.
Our first community in Uganda was started in Nakseke in 2002. Today there are 5 communities. The first batch of Ugandan Novices, five of them, were professed in 2013. The sisters are engaged in teaching, medical and pastoral work, development of women, etc.
Our Mission in Venezuela was due to the initiative of the Venezuelan Government. In 1889 two great Venezuelan personalities, Messrs Amenodoro Urdaneta and Carlos Arriens, arrived in the Mother House in Cantaous. They did come to ask for nursing sisters for their country. They were acting officially, in the name of the President of the Republic of Caracas. The Superior General and her Council considered their request favorably. After having undergone a violent anti-religious regime under Guzman Blanco, Venezuela was going back to its true tradition. Mr Rojas, a fervent Catholic was back as the head of the Government. Ever since getting into power, in 1884, he had been looking for French sisters whom the clergy and the people also wanted. The negotiations entered into with various Congregations up to 1889, had failed. It was then that the President’s delegates heard of the existence of the Sisters of St Joseph of Tarbes.
Carlos Arriens entered into a contract with the Congregation, signed it in the name of the President of the Venezuelan Republic, the very special characteristic of this mission. On 26th May 1889, 18 sisters, under the leadership of Mother St Simon left France. They arrived in Caracas around the middle of June. Even though the sisters were called only for the hospitals, the President requested them to open a college and an elementary school. The sisters accepted the request. They started their work in two hospitals, one of which was rather a Home for the elderly and the other the Women’s Hospital.
News spread that French Sisters were taking care of the hospitals in Caracas. By the end of August, Valencia and Puerto Cabello asked for sisters. The Mission in Venezuela grew rapidly. More sisters arrived from France. The sisters’ services were very much appreciated and they were needed everywhere. They endured many hardships and trials with great courage and patience. In 1893 Several sisters were affected by yellow fever and five died. The rapid expansion of the Venezuelan Mission is found in their total gift of themselves in the service. God, souls, the Congregation, such was their motto.
To be updated
To be updated
The achievements of the sisters of St Joseph in Ecuador attracted the attention of Mr Egnigurem, the then Senator and the President of the Charity-Board at Piura in Peru. Anxious as he was to replace the lay personnel of the Civil Hospital by a body of Religious, in 1892, he approached Mother Basilide with a view to obtain from the Headquarters of the Order in France, a certain number of nursing sisters who would undertake the work.
The proposal was accepted. Mother Basilide went there accompanied by Sr Theodosius. Twenty hours by steamer separate Guayaquil from the port of Paita, from which the train would normally take travelers to Piura in three hours. But the line was cut; they rode on a mule; an exhausting sixteen-hour journey. The welcome they received compensated their fatigue. Mr Eguiguren, President of a charitable society, a member of the Senate, a good Christian, generous and broadminded, welcomed them. He gave them hospitality and took charge of all the formalities with the civil and religious authorities, the sisters were called to take up the Belen Hospital. Mother Basilide signed the contract. “Let not the question of money stop you”, wrote Mother Basilide to the Mother House. Piura is our only hope and the future of Ecuador”.
Mother Basilide took five sisters who were in Guayaquil and brought them to Piura on 8th December 1892. They were enthusiastically received by the Government officials and the patients in the Hospital, who in their joy exclaimed: “At last! They have come, now we shall have real Mothers!”
In addition to their nursing work, they also took up teaching in a school built in the vicinity of the hospital.
What the sisters brought, wherever they went was the charity which brightens so many unhappy lives. This is what the people experienced, and this brought great joy to the heart of Mother Basilide.
The Province of Mysore started a foundation in Austria in 1999. The request for a religious community was made to Sr Mercy Jacob, Provincial, by a Franciscan priest, Fr Michael Schlatger from Frauenkirchen, Burganland in Austria. He wrote to the Provincial saying, “Our village is really sad that 25 years ago the religious sisters were taken away and so the women and children lost the Catholic friends”. He offered a wing of the Franciscan Monastery for a convent. On June 15th 1999 the community of five sisters was inaugurated.
DR of Congo
An international community, comprising of one sister from France, two from India and three from Congo, was started at Bena Mukangala in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012. Inserted in a very poor milieu, this community has already undertaken many activities for the development and for the human and spiritual growth of the people, in spite of the risks involved.
Political upheavals threatened seriously at times the foundations made by the Congregation. This was the case in Ecuador in particular. In 1897 much destruction and bloodshed greatly affected their institutions.
It was at this juncture, Mother Basilide acting on a suggestion made previously by Fr Goujon, a priest of the Mission, went over to Colombia with the intention of founding a College in Popayan. His Grace Msgr. Caizeod made it easy for the sisters of St Joseph to open a College. He managed to obtain from the Municipality a large p[lot of land and more spacious mansion known as the ‘Convent of the Incarnation’. This he kindly handed over to the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph.
The Kenyan Province started a community in Djibouti on 13th August 2012. There are three sisters.