Today, we Sisters of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia, approximately 1200 women religious, live and work in 17 states and theDistrict of Columbia here in the United States. Our sisters also minister in Guatemala, Haiti, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Vatican City State. In collaboration with laywomen and men who share the spirit of our charism of unity and reconciliation, we serve in educational, pastoral, social, spiritual and healthcare ministries.
Our mission as Sisters of Saint Joseph flows from the purpose for which our Congregation exists. We live and work so that all people may be united with God and with one another (Constitutions 14).
In a natural link with our history as women who responded to the need to reach out to children of immigrant families and undertake their education, 47% of our active members currently serve as administrators, teachers and staff members in a variety of educational institutions. We are present at 11 colleges/universities, 40 high schools, 98 elementary schools, 5 programs for persons who are learning disabled and 5 pre-schools/child care centers. In more recent years needs of the Church have also called us to other ministries: 22% of our members have a presence at 146 parishes and 15 spiritual centers; 13% serve in social services and healthcare facilities; 4 sisters minister to those who are poor in areas beyond the United States; one sister serves as Director of Liturgical Music at the North American College in Rome.
We serve in 14 of our own sponsored works. They include: Academy Village, Bethlehem Village, and Saint Joseph Village, were sisters manage affordable housing for seniors; Chestnut Hill College, Cecilian Academy, Holy Family Academy, Mount Saint Joseph Academy, and Norwood-Fontbonne Academy, Saint Joseph Academy Pre-School and Cares Program, were students find educational opportunities that support their needs from pre-school through elementary, high school, college and adult education; the SSJ Center for Spirituality and Saint Mary by-the-Sea, where sisters offer spiritual services; and Saint Joseph Villa, a facility where sisters and lay women and men receive long and short term healthcare. In addition, there are four sisters currently ministering through our most recent venture, the Center for the Dear Neighbor, a welcome center for adults who are new immigrants in Philadelphia. Prominent among the good works forwarded through the Center of the Dear Neighbor is the SSJ Literacy Project.
We trace our original foundation to Le Puy, France. There in 1650, six women guided by Jesuit John Pierre Medaille and Bishop Henri de Maupas, became known as the first Sisters of Saint Joseph. We trace our Philadelphia foundation to four women who came from St. Louis, Missouri in 1847 to administer Saint John’s Orphanage for Boys. Soon immersed in the life of the local Church in Philadelphia and joined by new members, we Sisters of Saint Joseph have treasured the opportunity to bring our mission of unity and reconciliation wherever we have been called to serve. Today, slightly more than half of our active sisters live and work in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where they serve in: 37 parishes and 4 spiritual centers, 43 elementary schools, 22 high schools and 7 colleges/universities, and 5 healthcare facilities and 14 social services sites.
Today as we strive to honor the call of our Constitutions, "How great is the love to which we are called; how deep the responsibility" (214), we invite women of all cultures who feel attracted to our life of community, prayer and service to join with us as members; six young women are presently in the varied stages of formation, and approximately 360 women and men walk with us as SSJ Associates in Mission.
Today, too, we welcome all our benefactors and friends to share in our mission of unity and reconciliation through their prayer and generous support. Together, with God’s supporting grace, we continue to share our mission of unity and reconciliation with the world in the 21st century.