By: Martha Malinski

18 college students from schools sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph traveled to Lyon, France this summer.For a week this summer, 18 college students traveled to Le Puy, France for a pilgrimage and to learn more about the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph. The trip was sponsored by the Association of Colleges of Sisters of St. Joseph (ACSSJ). Sister Katherine "Kitty" Hanley (Carondelet-Albany) and Sister Joan Lescinski (Carondelet-St. Louis) were the guides for the trip. Their knowledge of the place and the charism were essential. Additionally, their passion was contagious. ACSSJ's Executive Director, Martha Malinski organized the trip and two campus ministry directors, Lori Helfrich from Fontbonne University and Dan Leahy from Regis College assisted with facilitation.

The first days were spent in Le Puy. The group stayed at the International Centre, explored the city, visited the original kitchen, engaged in the Interactive Display, prayed in the chapels and walked a small portion of the Camino. Walking the old cobblestone streets, the pilgrims felt connected with history and inspired to live the charism in their own lives and share it with others. At the Ensemble Scolaire Saint Jacques de Compostelle, secondary and university students forged new connections in their shared commitment to learning more about the Sisters.

In Lyon, the pilgrims visited the Motherhouse, explored the city on a walking tour, visited the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Fourviere and the Cathedral Saint-Jean-Baptiste, and laid flowers on the grave of Mother St. John Fontbonne. Students learned more about the history of the Sisters of St. Joseph in France that led to them coming to the United States. Each evening, the group used the Sharing of the Heart practice to guide reflection.

By learning more about the first six Sisters and Mother St. John Fontbonne, students had an opportunity to reflect on these bold and courageous women and how their work led to ministries serving the dear neighbor without distinction. The trip also allowed them to meet current Sisters of St. Joseph, who continue the legacy. The pilgrims felt the presence of the Sisters, both living and from the past, around every corner and were inspired that to carry on and embrace the charism in their own lives. Tatiana Belanich, a St. Joseph's College student shared, "I left with a deepened desire to discern and follow the will God has for my life — to make a difference. Le Puy will always be a home and an experience I will carry forever."

The student pilgrims are back on campuses starting a new academic year. Each of the students is charged with bringing their new knowledge, understanding and hopefully a deeper connection to the Sisters of St. Joseph back to their home campus and offering fall programs. Students are working to infuse their learning and the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph on campuses, through presentations at first-year orientations, tabling, videos, and programs. Two of the pilgrims are working with the Association of Colleges of Sisters of St. Joseph as interns. The commitment to the charism is growing and spreading across all of the nine campuses.

To learn more about the Association of Colleges of Sisters of St. Joseph's Le Puy Student Pilgrimage or read the Le Puy Pilgrimage blog, visit acssj.org. The Le Puy Student Pilgrimage is just one of a few programs offered to students including a Student Exchange Program and this fall, ACSSJ is launching a new student leadership webinars series entitled, "Leading in the Footsteps of our Founders," which you can read more about in our Federation Blog.

Martha Malinski, Executive Director of the Association of Colleges of Sisters of St. Joseph

List of Participants and Member Institutions:
Morgan Berhorst and Mary Sommerhauser — Avila University, Kansas City, MO
Carolina Perez and Thomas Repsik — Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, PA
Kayla and Sarah Frankzken — The College of St. Rose, Albany, NY
Jane Dugan and Monica Karriem — Elms College, Chicopee, MA
Brittany Hanewinkel and Cecilia Meyer — Fontbonne University, St. Louis, MO
Daisy Cruz and Caitlyn Keeve — Mount Saint Mary's University, Los Angeles, CA
Ariana McCormack and Megan Bubello — Regis College, Weston, MA
Emily Carman and Amanda Williams — St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN
Tatiana Belanich and Veronique Mathieu — St. Joseph College, Brooklyn, NY

[Martha Malinski is the executive director of the Association of Colleges of Sisters of St. Joseph. She joined the organization in 2015. Prior to becoming the Executive Director at ACSSJ, Martha worked for 10 years at St. Catherine University, one of ACSSJ's members. There she worked as the Director of the Center for Community Work and Learning. Martha has worked at various non-profits and higher education institutions. She brings a deep commitment to the mission of the organization and a spirit of collaboration.]