The religious profession of Anne Marie Javouhey and eight companions in St. Peter’s Church, Chalon, France on May 12, 1807 marked the beginning of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. With the acquisition of a former Franciscan monastery in Cluny in 1812 “Cluny” was added to their name.
The missionary dimension of the congregation evolved in 1817 when, at the request of the French government, five sisters sailed for the isle of Reunion. When Mother Javouhey died on July 15, 1841, the congregation worked on the five continents with a concentration in Africa, India, the South Seas and the French and British West Indies. What was the secret of Anne Marie’s success? Her total reliance on God’s will and trust in God’s providence. Guided by her deep respect for the human person, for all that is good and true in other cultures and religions, as well as her creative genius, she succeeded in preparing 500 African slaves for freedom in spite of the fierce resistance of colonists who opposed this emancipation. This, along with the solid education of African children that empowered them to become priests, teachers and other professionals, is her crowning achievement equaled only by the ordination in 1840 of the first three black Senegalese priests, educated at the expense of the Congregation. Many among the African clergy still consider her their mother.
Bishop Ryan invited Cluny Sisters to Hamilton in 1958. Mainly teachers, Sisters also ministered as chaplains, parish associates and in ministry to Portuguese immigrants. Today, they continue to reach out as volunteers at St. Joseph Hospital, Good Shepherd Angela’s Place, and as parish associate at St. Mary’s Parish, Hamilton.
For more information: clunyusandcanada.org/