Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletJune 27, 2022

Our History Calls Us

To learn more about the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph who trace their beginnings to Jean Pierre Medaille, SJ, and six women in LePuy, France in 1650, check our International Center and the various Federations of Sisters of St. Joseph listed below. The International Centre is a collaborative effort of Sisters of St. Joseph in 55 countries who recognize the urgent need for better understanding and respect among peoples, cultures and faiths and a deeper care for one another and our planet.



History Page

Our History 

The Foundation

In 1650, the first six Sisters of St. Joseph gathered in LePuy, France. With the assistance of Jean Pierre Medaille, a Jesuit priest, these women, without cloister or habit, formed what they called a “little design” which would enable them to live together in community, pray together and offer their lives to address the needs of the day. They shared a profound desire for union with God and the “dear neighbor,” a term used frequently by Father Medaille. It was a unique idea—religious women, mostly lace makers, who were not in a cloister, who dressed like the women of the day and who went out into the community to respond to the needs of the people! 

The French Revolution

The congregation dispersed or went “under cover” during the French Revolution when five of the sisters (Sisters St. Croix Vincent, Madeleine Senovert, Toussante Dumelin, Marie Aubert and Anne Marie Garnier) were executed by the revolutionaries. Some years later in 1807, through the collaboration of Mother St. John Fontbonne, Father Claude Cholleton and Cardinal Joseph Fesch, the congregation was restored in France.. 
The American Story: St. Louis and Albany

In 1836, two centuries after their founding in France, Mother St. John Fontbonne responded to a request from Bishop Joseph Rosati of St. Louis to come to the United States to teach deaf children. The bishop had been advised to “get the Sisters of St. Joseph because they will do anything; no task is too great.” Six Sisters were sent to St. Louis. The Sisters settled in a log cabin in Carondelet, a small village near St. Louis and founded a school for deaf children. From there the congregation spread rapidly throughout the United States and Canada. The Sisters came to New York State in 1858, establishing a school in Oswego, New York. 


Today, nearly 1,000 Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet serve in all over the United States and in Peru and Japan. They serve with the same spirit which motivated the first sisters in countless locations in parishes, schools, healthcare centers, retreat houses, colleges and universities and neighborhood outreach centers. They are fulfilling the words of their founder “to perform all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy of which woman is capable.” 

The sisters, nourished by prayer, supported by community and energized by ministry, continue to live in community, support one another and reach out to address the needs of our times. With generosity and joy, they will continue to go where they are called by God to serve God's people. 

To learn more about our history, try our Federation site, and for a more thorough history of our founding, read here! To look at dates and civil and religious figures who impacted our heritage as a congregation, review our timeline. If you have any archival questions, contact our Carondelet Consolidated Archive.




Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet • 385 Watervliet-Shaker Road • Latham, NY 12110-4799
Main Provincal House Number (518) 783-3500 • Fax (518) 783-5209

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