I’ve been corresponding with a colleague in Dublin who has been asking me questions about connections between the Jesuits and the Sisters of St. Joseph. His followup questions have sent me on a bit of a quest to think more deeply about our origins.
The obvious connection is that our first six sisters were brought together by a Jesuit priest. So there is a strong Jesuit flavor to our spirituality. However, there is also a Salesian flavor to us. It’s not clear to me how Fr. Medaille came to the principles of St. Francis de Sales, but perhaps he was familiar with the Visitation sisters, who were founded earlier by de Sales and Jane de Chantal. In any case, our consensus statement describes our life stance as follows:
an orientation towards excellence (Ignatian)
tempered by gentleness, peace, and joy (Salesian)
Now, in my reading about Fr. Medaille, I’m seeing that he was really active in the sodality movement, which is the origin of the modern day Christian Life Community (CLC) movement.
From the New Advent web site’s Catholic Encyclopedia:
These pious sodalities, however, lacked certain elements which Father Medaille regarded as necessary for the stabliity of his work. Their members, although devoted, were hampered in many ways and by many ties in the exercise of their zeal. Father Medaille resolved, therefore, to start a congregation of nuns who should give themselves up wholly and unreservedly to all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
So it appears that in a sense, the Sisters of St. Joseph could be viewed as “CLC on steroids”?