Experiencing the History & Values of the Sisters of St. Joseph in LePuy
In the first weeks of October, I traveled with Sandra Selvarajans from Walnut Park Montessouri School to Le Puy, France, for a week of instruction, reflection and discussion at the Sisters of Saint Joseph International Center. Surrounded by breath-taking cathedrals, ancient cobbled streets and soaring volcanic hills, we gathered with eight other participants from CSJ ministries across the United States and Canada to learn more about our CSJ roots and charism. It was a profound and sacred week for us all. Led by Delores Clerico, SSJ, in the workshop, “Charism Alive in Ministries Founded by the Sisters of Saint Joseph”, we worked hard and learned much.
I feel honored to have participated in this once-in-a-lifetime experience and grateful to our CSJ Leadership Team for making it possible. In a series of guided tours, Sandra and I walked in the footsteps of the first six sisters in Le Puy and of Mother Saint John Fontbonne in Lyon. We learned of their courageous beginnings, their unique, enduring charism, and the meaning of each in our own work in our sponsored-ministries. It would take a book to share with you the ways in which this week changed my thinking and my heart. I came to a deeper understanding of the meaning of spirituality and of how, for the Sisters of Saint Joseph, the essence of God is to be in relationship with others. Committed then, as they are now, to the love of God and of the Dear Neighbor without distinction, the first Sisters lived their charism by daring to nurse the hungry, the orphaned, the ill and impoverished in post-famine, post-plague France. Re-founding the order in Lyon after the French Revolution, Mother Saint John Fontbonne continued to “turn in love toward God and others” as she and the Sisters found the inherent dignity in each person they served. Isn’t this the charism that all of us working in sponsored ministries strives to live each day?
I returned to Bethany Hill School revitalized by my experience in LePuy and Lyon, grateful for the gift of my fellow-staff members who live out CSJ values each day. I can identify our charism in the loving presence we offer our residents, and in the loving way they turn toward each other in friendship and support. I can see the vision of those first six Sisters, weaving lace and dreams in their small stone kitchen, continuing to express itself on our little hill in Framingham.
Mary Mitchell – Associate Program Director, Bethany Hill School
Filed Under: Life