The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph was founded in le Puy en Velay, France, in 1650 by Jean Pierre Medaille in response to the situation of war, famine, social injustice, etc. It was one of the first juridical congregations of women recognized as a religious apostolic congregation by Msgr Henri de Maupas, Bishop of Le Puy en Velay.
While preaching in the central part of France, Father Médaille met “widows and young women” who did not feel attracted to the cloistered religious life but who wanted to consecrate themselves to God in service to the neighbor. They were:Françoise Eyraud, Claudia Chastel, Marguerite Burdier, Anna Vey, Anna Chaleyier and Anna Brun . Thus a new congregation was born.
The group increased rapidly and formed small communities living the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. They wore no distinctive garb.
The French Revolution (1789-1794) caused the Congregation to disband. Following the Revolution, a few communities regrouped and formed new congregations.
In 1808, Sister St. John Fontbonne was called by Cardinal Fesch to refound the congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph. She went to St. Etienne to accompany 12 women who wanted to become religious and formed them according to the spirituality of the original Sisters of St. Joseph. They were joined by a great number of other women, and soon communities multiplied and responded to various pressing needs causing Mother St. John to establish a Motherhouse in Lyon.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the laws of laicization in France and the requests for sisters received from different countries led to sisters being missioned to: Armenia, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, England, Greece, India, Ireland, Lebanon, Mexico, Switzerland, USA.
Renewed by the spirit of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyon accepted the invitation to serve the Church in West Africa, and to this day, the Congregation remains open to future calls. In 1996, the Congregations of Sisters of St. Joseph of Bourg and of Bordeaux merged with the Lyon Congregation.
In collaboration with others, we strive to bring about unity and reconciliation living the Gospel call: “May they all be one” for the life of the world.