St. Joseph’s Day: The Tradition Continues at SJC
March 10, 2016
by Valerie Esposito
Every year, Saint Joseph, the patron saint of workers and the protector of families, is honored on March 19. Legend has it that a famine in Sicily was resolved when villagers prayed to Saint Joseph, and as a result, he has been honored with ample feasts of pasta, soups, bread and pastries ever since.
At St. Joseph’s College, the tradition continues on Tuesday, March 15, at SJC Brooklyn and on Wednesday, March 16, at SJC Long Island.
Traditionally, the Sisters of St. Joseph around the world renew their religious vows on St. Joseph's Day. For the Sisters of St. Joseph who work at St Joseph's College, it is also a day to renew their vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience during the College’s St. Joseph’s Day mass.
"Each year, we commit ourselves to continue the mission of Jesus to heal, redeem and liberate God's people and express this commitment through the renewal of our vows."
— S. Suzanne Franck, C.S.J., Ph.D.
“As Sisters of St. Joseph, we strive to live and work to bring all into unity with God, one another and all creation,” said S. Suzanne Franck, C.S.J., Ph.D., associate professor of religious studies and director of SJC Long Island’s academic advisement center. “Each year, we commit ourselves to continue the mission of Jesus to heal, redeem and liberate God's people and express this commitment through the renewal of our vows. We commit ourselves to live a simple, chaste life in response to God's call through our life lived in community.”
The Sisters of St. Joseph was born more than 360 years ago in the village of LePuy, France, when the Spirit of God touched the hearts of a young priest and a group of women with a vision of union with God and neighbor. This vision was to be achieved through prayer, service and reconciling love. The group devoted themselves to this vision while dividing the city, seeking out its ills and curing them. The group was established as a religious foundation in 1650.
The vitality and expansion of the Congregation continued until it was abruptly halted by the French Revolution. Convents were closed, Sisters were disbanded or thrown into prison and some were even beheaded at the guillotine. In the aftermath of this chaos, it was thought that the Congregation had died, but the Sisters of St. Joseph were refounded by Mother St. John. Shortly after, France’s government called for universal education so the Sisters, again meeting the needs of the times, became teachers.
In 1836, a request came from the Bishop of Missouri for the Sisters to come to America to teach deaf children. Three Sisters were sent to Carondelet, Missouri, to establish a foundation and school. The first U.S. ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph was the education of deaf children.
The Congregation spread throughout the United States and, in 1856, Mother Austin Kean came from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Brooklyn, New York, to establish what is now the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood. Sixty years later, the Sisters of St. Joseph founded St. Joseph’s College and opened the College’s doors to 12 students in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn. Fast forward a century later and there are still dedicated Sisters who teach at the College, many of whom have been doing so for decades.
This year, join in the festivities at SJC Long Island and SJC Brooklyn to help honor the Sisters and the spirit of Saint Joseph.
Tuesday, March 15
Saint Joseph’s Day celebration at SJC Brooklyn in the Tuohy Auditorium during Common Hour.
Wednesday, March 16
Saint Joseph’s Day celebration at SJC Long Island in the McGann Conference Center during Common Hour. Celebration includes a Catholic mass, Sisters’ vows, a reflection of the Sisters’ work, music and Saint Joseph’s Day bread and pastries.
Standing: Sister Francis Teresa, Sister Raymond, Sister John Raymond, Sister St. Angela (Regional Superior, and former Librarian at SJC,), Sister Joseph Damien (Professor of History) and Sister Virginia Thérèse (Congregational Councillor, former Professor of Chemistry; later, Vice President and Dean, SJC Long Island); seated: Sister George Aquin (president of SJC, 1969-1997), Sister Joan de Lourdes (General Superior of Sisters of St. Joseph; former Professor of History and Dean of Students) and Bishop Francis Mugavero (Bishop of Brooklyn).