International Centre of the Sisters of St. Joseph

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Mt. St. Mary University Faculty & Staff Visit SSJ Foundations

Faculty and staff of Mt. St. Mary's University spent June 5-8 in Le Puy on pilgrimage to explore and be inspired by the history and spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph.



 Climbing St. Michel

Shannon Green, director of the CSJ Institute, presented a history of the Sisters of St. Joseph to orient the group to the various sites they would see.

The pilgrimage was sponsored by the Office of the President and led by President Ann McElaney-Johnson and the staff of the CSJ Institute with Director Shannon Green and Associate Director Meredith Lynch. 




                                  Mother St. John Fontbonne gravesite in Lyon


The CSJ Institute

Established in 2016, the CSJ Institute at Mount Saint Mary’s University advances and upholds the mission of our Founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

Rooted in a rich history that dates back to 1650 Le Puy, France, the Institute promotes the charism of the CSJs to serve all persons without distinction and respond to the needs of the times.

Through a combination of programs, resources, and faculty-led research, the CSJ Institute prepares fearless visionaries for a just future while honoring the work and lives of our Founders, both past and present.

After the group left Le Puy, they traveled to Bas-en-Basset to see the birthplace of Mother St. John Fontbonne and to Monistrol to see the town where she served as a superior before the French Revolution.
MSMU purchased the birthplace home in Bas-en-Basset in 2019. 
Reflections on the Pilgrimage

Andrée Leighton, professor of political science and director of the Center for Academic Innovation and Creativity:

Visiting the kitchen was the high point of the pilgrimage for me. I was filled with a simple happiness and gratitude. I am looking forward to all of our partnering and continuing this work. 


Barbara Anne Stowasser, CSJ:

Your request for one sentence or two about ONE place is most difficult for me. I could write much more about each one because it was a journey that flowed from the streets of Annecy to our departure in Lyon. However, my choice is the Kitchen.

Sitting quietly in the Kitchen, I imagined the women sharing their challenges and hopes from serving that day. I prayed for their wisdom as we deal with our own CSJ challenges and hopes for our future.  We stand on their shoulders.


Brandy Sato, new Assistant Head of School at Academy of Our Lady of Peace:

One of the most beautiful memories from our pilgrimage was visiting the kitchen. Just being in that spiritual place, knowing that our Sisters were there sharing meals together, reading from Sacred Scripture, praying, and planning how to care for their dear neighbors was truly inspirational!


From Elizabeth Chaponot, VP for Academics and Ed Tech at Carondelet HS

It is difficult to pick one thing that resonated more than others.  The kitchen is the obvious pick but it is not what I am selecting.  I think for me the magic was Annecy.  Our trip was about understanding our origins.  We tend to start with the sisters.  But for me, seeing the origins of what came before the sisters helped me understand them better.  Learning about François de Sales and Jeanne de Chantal and their unique story was the missing piece I needed.  Jeanne de Chantal's unique entry into the church as a widow and mother and how the Daughters of the Visitation paved the way for something new inspired me.  The church is not always viewed as the most inclusive space as politics and prejudice often take center stage in the media.  I knew the Sisters were a progressive order.  I had seen this in writing before I joined Carondelet.  I have experienced it in the walls and spirit of Carondelet the school I work for.  

But understanding the origins, and seeing it firsthand, really grounded me to truly understand why this CSJ school and mission feel so right.  I see how the charism is so embedded in the DNA of the sisters that no other way forward is possible.  This realization was transformative.  As a member of what is viewed as a marginalized community, I have sometimes encountered raised eyebrows from friends when I say I work for a Catholic school.  Living the pilgrimage and seeing our origins, I see more than ever that this is where I am called to be.  I am proud to be helping carry this charism into the future.  


Carlos Garcia, Facilities Manager:

Extraordinary reception by the sister, Olga and Luisa. I felt like getting home and their food was delicious.


Danielle Salomon, Director of Libraries

Thank you again for such a wonderful pilgrimage! It was meaningful and memorable. A highlight of the trip for me was seeing the family home of Mother Saint John Fontbonne. I loved hearing the story about how the house came into MSMU's hands and I appreciate what the university is doing to carry on her legend.



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