It all began in a little village of Le Puy, France, more than 350 years ago. The founding Sisters formed a community of women who would love and serve their “dear neighbor”. They worked in orphanages, and schools. They took care of the poor and the sick.
The Congregation dispersed during the French Revolution but was restored by Mother St. John Fontbonne in Lyons, France several years later.
In 1836, nearly two centuries after their founding in France, a small group of Sisters came to Carondolet, Missouri to begin a school for the deaf. From there, the Sisters moved to many parts of the United States and Canada.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Springfield was founded in 1883 following a request by the pastor of St. Patrick’s in Chicopee Falls. He needed help starting a parish school and so seven Sisters from the New York Congregation moved to the Springfield area. The small community grew slowly but steadily while educating poor immigrant children in central and western Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
By the mid 1960’s, the ranks of the Springfield Congregation swelled to over one thousand women. The group had founded or staffed sixty schools and had established the Elms College.
Then following the Second Vatican Council, the Sisters restructured their community life. Many moved out of convents and into small houses and apartments in local towns and cities. Their ministries expanded as well. No longer limited to schools, the Sisters worked in prisons, parishes, homeless shelters and other social services.
In the mid 1970s, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Fall River merged with the Springfield Congregation. In 2001, Sisters of St. Joseph of Rutland, Vermont joined the community which also covers Worcester, the Berkshires, Rhode Island and even Louisiana and Africa. Today, the Springfield Congregation of just under 200 Sisters continues to serve the people of God through a variety of ministries.