Since then three and a half centuries have passed...... Three and a half centuries of history, designing a long series of events, each calling us to pursue a moment when all seemed lost....... each one giving birth to something new, in response to the new challenges of each age!
In the 17th Century
In the 17th Century, in the town of Le Puy, France, Fr. John Peter Medaille as a Parish Priest, came in contact with young girls and widows, who were touched by the misery around them, but who, at the same time, desired greatly to give themselves in total dedication to the Lord. Fr. Medaille recognizing the action of the Holy Sprit in them, pointing to the birth and need of active Religious women in society, asked them to pray and wait, and to continue living according to the desires awakened in them. Contemplation of Jesus hidden in the Eucharist, gave Fr. Medaille "a perfect pattern for the Little Design", where Jesus is completely emptied of self and is thus a Model of an Institute which will be emptied of self, because of the situation and the thinking of the Church and society at that time. The "Little Design" of the Daughters of St. Joseph, had a humble, insignificant and unrecognized beginning in 1646, where the Sisters lived together, in small communities as religious. They were not cloistered, but were actively engaged in spiritual and corporal works of mercy among the poor and neediest. These Sisters had faith as their wealth, coupled with a deep experience of God, which they felt the need of communicating to all those whom they served.
The Violence of the Revolution
During the French Revolution of 1789, all that had been born of that first animation collapsed. Many Sisters were imprisoned, some died as martyrs in faithfulness to the Church, and others returned to their homes. But this passage through trial and death was not definitive.
When the Revolution was over, there was a discreet and organized resurgence of the Institute of St. Joseph, similar to the expansion of the early communities, under the able guidance of Mother St. John Fontbonne. The Sisters who had been dispersed came together again to form communities around certain houses. The central houses became autonomous Mother Houses, giving their names to various Congregations. Something new revealed itself in their life and in the world.
Entering the third Millennium with Jesus the Liberator with a special concern for Women:-
Today we are experiencing the Post-Modern World of Globalization, with a fast - changing market economy, satellite television which promotes non-traditional values, rapid urbanization and industrialization, migration, disintegration of the family and sacredness of life, sexual violence and mental and emotional disorders. These upheavals have thrust women into truly uncharted territory - a place, from which familiar landmarks have disappeared, a place where the wisdom and experience of our forebears is of uncertain application, a place from which there is no turning back.
We as Sisters of St. Joseph, while facing unprecedented challenges and choices, are called to put into practice the social Christian thought in promoting "the good of the world's women". In our era, beset by the speed and depth of social changes, we are called to be women of God-experience, prayer and action, enlivened by the Word of God-women upholding the sanctity of sex and sexuality, women's rights and their role in the family and society, and like Jesus leading all women to come to their rightful place in the service of God and society.
The Birthplace and early days of the Congregation
When in 1641, the renowned prelate Henri de Maupas, was appointed to the Sea of Le Puy, he realized the necessity of procuring willing laborers to assist him in his works of charity. But how or where could he find persons willing to embrace such a life of sacrifice? Then in the Providence of God, there came to his Episcopal See in the Lent of 1648, the famous Jesuit missionary John Peter Medaille whose labours in the fields already fertilized by St. Frances Regis, had brought to his knowledge, a number of devout an uneducated women, desirous of consecrating their lives to precisely such a work as Bishop de Maupas wished to establish.
An interchange of ideals led to a prompt decision on the part of both prelate and priest, and the Bishop bade the missionary bring to Le Puy those ladies whom he had already begun to form on his ideal. The cenacle into which they entered was the house of a noble widow, Madame de Joux, who seems to have been the mother presiding over the cradle of the Institute sheltered beneath her roof.