St. Joseph of Peace, Sisters of

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This pontifical congregation (CSJP; Official Catholic Directory #3890) originated from the order of Poor Clares (now Sisters of St. Clare) and was founded by Sr. Mary Francis Clare (Margaret Anna Cusack), also known as Mother Clare or the Nun of Kenmare. In December 1883, after an unsuccessful attempt to found a convent of her order at Knock, Co. Mayo, Ireland, Mother Clare was welcomed into the diocese of Nottingham, England by its bishop, Edward G. Bagshawe, who encouraged the foundation of a new congregation. Bishop Bagshawe approved the Rule and Constitutions of the institute which was then variously known as Sisters of Peace, Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, and St. Joseph Sisters of Peace of the Immaculate Conception. The first house of the new congregation was opened in Grimsby, in the diocese of Nottingham, January 1884.

This congregation had its origin in the Founder's response to the social concerns and needs of the time. Attracted by this commitment, Honoria Gaffney, later named Mother Evangelista, together with a few other women, joined the community. From the beginning the Sisters were involved in ministries of social service, education and health care; they worked directly with the poor and sick in their own homes, provided housing and care for women, orphans, blind children and adults, and as need arose, established schools and hospitals.

After Margaret Anna Cusack left the congregation in 1888, Mother Evangelista Gaffney was elected Mother General. The Congregation received a Decree of Praise as a pontifical religious institute in 1895 and its constitutions were approved in 1929 for seven years. In that year also the name of the congregation was changed to Sisters of St. Joseph of Newark because its principal house was then in the diocese of Newark, New Jersey. On June 16, 1936, the Constitutions of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Newark were granted definitive approval. In the process of renewal called for by Vatican Council II, the congregation returned to its original title "of Peace." A renewed constitution was approved by Rome on March 19, 1994. This constitution also welcomed women and men who lived their spirit and mission as associates of the congregation.

The Congregation comprises three provinces: Sacred Heart Province (England, Scotland, and Ireland), St. Joseph Province (Eastern U.S.) and Our Lady Province (Western U.S.). The Congregation Office is located in Washington, D.C. Each province sponsored a variety of ministries in accordance with the needs of the locale and the charism and mission of the congregation.

[c. o'connor]

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St. Joseph of Peace, Sisters of

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St. Joseph of Peace, Sisters of