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CSSJ Event 2022 Reflection: Friday's Heritage Tour

CSSJ Event 2022 Reflection: Friday's Heritage Tour


Of Seeds and Seasons:
CSSJ Federation Heritage Tour July 2022


By: Kathie Shute, CSJA 

Heritage tour participants at the wooden church in Cahokia
Heritage tour participants at the church in Cahokia. (Photo by Olivia Bordeau)

As our pilgrim group — 112 sisters, associates, agrégées, and partners in mission — gathered on July 8 for the 2022 Federation Heritage Tour, we received a warm welcome from Sr. Mary M. McGlone (Carondelet-St. Louis). Sr. Mary, author of Anything of Which a Woman is Capable, and Called Forth by the Dear Neighbor, a two-volume history of Sisters of St. Joseph in the United States, opened our tour with a historical perspective. She spoke of the first six sisters who traveled from Lyon, France in 1836, and shared details about their journey: leave-taking from Lyon, a 49-day ocean voyage from Le Havre, France to New Orleans, and, finally, the trip up the Mississippi River to St. Louis.   

Our day together continued with a stop in Cahokia, Illinois, where we visited Holy Family Church, the parish where Sisters of St. Joseph first ministered, and the site of the sisters’ original convent in Cahokia. Standing together there, we shared a special moment of prayer, written by Sr. Joanne Gallagher (Boston) for this gathering:

Cahokia 1836-2022
Called to Transformation Then and Now [excerpts]

“God of inclusive love . . .
We stand on this ground made holy by your love
– a love that animated the Sisters of St. Joseph
whose pioneer spirit brought them to Cahokia.

. . . One-hundred and eighty-six years later, we stand on their shoulders.
We gather in the spirit of unifying love
as a diverse, compassionate, and engaged community.

May we, like our sisters of Cahokia,
be attentive to what is emerging
as we respond to your call
to be and act
as one Joseph family
radically transforming ourselves, our neighborhood,
our universe.”

The interior of the church at Carondelet
Heritage tour participants inside the church at the Carondelet motherhouse. (Photo by Olivia Bordeau)

Another highlight of our day was our visit to the Carondelet Motherhouse, located on the site of the log cabin home of those first Sisters of St. Joseph. We enjoyed a warm welcome, generous hospitality, and a delicious luncheon, followed by an extensive tour and history of the Motherhouse. Our enthusiastic guide offered her gracious words of greeting: “Welcome! Carondelet is the Le Puy of the United States! Welcome home!”

Today, we followed in the footsteps of our sisters, imagining their lives, immersing ourselves in their stories, and finding inspiration in their courageous journey into the unknown. Their intrepid spirit invites us to respond, as they did, to the needs of our own time, and draws us to break open our CSSJ charism for the NOW.

We express gratitude for our Heritage Tour experience and take a moment to reflect on these women of courage — their faith-filled seeds, planted here with vision and hope, nurtured through the seasons with love, tenacity and determination, and brought to fruition by the Sisters of St. Joseph whose legacy we honor and celebrate today. 

[Kathy Shute, CSJA is an associate with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston]