By: Patty Johnson

Our History Wall at Avila University

Since 2012 the U.S. Federation Archives has been housed at Avila University in the Martha Smith, CSJ, Ph.D. Archives and Research Center as part of their Special Collections. We never wanted this to be a static collection, so we have digitized all of the high and moderate interest items and are working to have them all available online by December 2018. Many are already available and you can browse the collection if you click here. Many of the videos capture the voices of our cherished sisters speaking at Federation Events. Their messages are as relevant for us today as they were when we first heard their words.

Avila Archivist Adonna Thompson standing among our collection

We are now embarking on a new venture to digitize the oral histories which were collected for the archives and in preparation for writing “Anything of Which a Woman Is Capable: A History of the Sisters of St. Joseph in the United States” by Sr. Mary McGlone (volume one is available for purchase). You will be able to hear the oral history of many of the important leaders of the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St Joseph as well as that of ordinary sisters who made the charism tangible for our dear neighbor.

Avila University has also been conducting oral histories of sisters who visit the University. Sr. Justine Senapati — our representative at the Congregations of St Joseph Non-Governmental Organization at the United Nations — recorded her history, which is already available in the interactive display at the archives.

With a simple touch the students and faculty can access the oral history of Sr. Justine

This is an important time of transition in religious life. Capturing our history as we live it is an important contribution we can make to the future. We are carefully preserving a record of our Organizational Audit — which includes the bold decision to expand our membership to include agrégées, associates, partners in mission, the St. Joseph Worker community, and those who share the charism. At some point in the future, historians will be looking through our archives and noting the trends that led us into the future. We are grateful to the many faithful Federation archivists who have made this collection possible over the last 52 years.

[Patty Johnson is the executive director of the U.S. Federation of the Sisters of St. Joseph]

Ever wonder what happened to the Federation Quilt? Different panels are displayed on a rotating basis on the history wall