Sisters of Saint Joseph of Annecy

Beginning in faith,
               We journey in trust,
                                Embracing a future that is yet to be...

The Journey began.... Our story continues...

Our Founder Jean Pierre Medaille was born at Carcassonne in 1610 in the South-West of France. In 1626 he entered the Jesuit Novitiate and made his first profession of vows two years later. In 1637 he was ordained a Priest and held various responsible posts in Jesuit Colleges as well as serving as Spiritual Director and Confessor to parishioners. On his missionary journeys from 1642 to 1649 he came into contact with many women who had the desire to serve their neighbour and this  prompted him to form them into small groups  taking care of the sick, orphans and the victims of war and plague etc. As a result in 1646 the ‘Little Design’ was born. 

When he was on his mission in Le Puy he met Bishop Henry De Maupas who hearing about the ‘Little Design’ saw it as a sign of Divine Providence. The Congregation was given juridical status on 15th October 1650 and placed under the patronage of St. Joseph. 

Fr. Medaille died, at the age of 59 on 30th December 1669 in the College of Billom. The eulogy immediately after his death affirms, “A great part of his life was spent in the missions of this province (Toulouse). With such a reputation for zeal and holiness he was called ‘The Saint or Apostle.” He was a man of great spiritual value, gifted with amazing talent to educate, to hold offices of the society," for teaching and preaching" .

Communities of the Sisters of St. Joseph spread very fast throughout central France. During the turmoil of the French Revolution the Sisters were dispersed and some were imprisoned or guillotined. Mother St.John Fontbonne, a heroic woman who narrowly escaped execution, was the graced person to refound the Congregation in Lyon on 14th July 1808.

It was she, as Superior General, who undertook the consolidation and expansion of the Congregation which spread to other parts of France.

In response to a request from Bishop Rey who had previously worked with them in Pignerol, five Sisters, specially chosen by him, arrived in Annecy on 7th May 1833 and joined the communities which were already in the Diocese. Thus the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy came into being in response to the needs of the time in a struggling world.

Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy called to the Mission.  In response to a request from Fr. Neyret, four pioneer missionary Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy made a brave and touching farewell to their companions and set out for India on 7th July 1849 - landing on Indian soil on 5th December. In response to further requests three Sisters left for a new English mission in 1864 (two of them coming from India) and then to Switzerland in 1878.  In 1957 a mission opened in Algeria and  in Senegal in 1960. More missions in Africa were to follow: Tanzania in 2004, Congo in 2012 and in Kenya 2015.