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Fournier, St. John, Mother


Foundress of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia; b. Arbois, France, Nov. 13, 1814; d. Philadelphia, Pa., Oct. 15, 1875. Her parents, Claude and Jeanne Marie (Ramboz) Fournier, christened her Julie. She entered (1828) the Order of the Immaculate Conception, making her vows in 1832. Attracted by the foreign missions, she transferred to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Lyons, who were planning an American foundation in St. Louis, Mo. She received the habit June 16, 1836, as Sister St. John, and after preparation for teaching the deaf, she went to teach in St. Louis. She remained there until 1847, when Bp. Francis P. Kenrick requested that she and three other sisters be assigned to St. John's Orphanage in Philadelphia. In 1848, Mother St. John opened St. Patrick's parochial school, Pottsville, Pa., and supported it by funds from an adjoining academy. The following year she agreed to Kenrick's request to staff St. Joseph's, Philadelphia's first Catholic hospital, which the sisters were forced to relinquish ten years later for lack of funds. In 1858, under Kenrick's successor, Bp. John Neumann, she established a permanent motherhouse, Mt. St. Joseph, at Chestnut Hill, Pa., later adding a wing (1860), a chapel (1866), and an academy building (1873). During the Civil War she sent 14 sisters to nurse in field and "floating" hospitals. Having established two orphanages and 38 parochial and private schools during her service in Philadelphia, Mother St. John, on the advice of Bp. J. F. Wood, remained independent of the St. Louis generalate set up in 1860. Papal approbation for the rule was obtained by the Philadelphia community in 1896.

Bibliography: m. k. logue, Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia, 18471947 (Westminster, Md. 1950). m. l. savage, The Congregation of St. Joseph of Carondelet (2d ed. St. Louis 1927).

[c. m. aherne]

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