Sisters of St. Joseph: Lace Makers in Service

Reprinted from Traditions, Spring 2017-2018
August 1, 2017

   Sisters of St. Joseph Made Beautiful Lace to Support Their Growing Ministry

In the 17th century France, some notable lace-makers wove together much more than silky threads. Nearly 370 years ago, small groups of women who shared a deep compassion for their community which was suffering from famine, disease, and poverty, came together to serve those in need while proclaiming the glory of God.

This was the beginning of the Sisters of St. Joseph in LePuy, France, a small village in southern France. Under the direction of a Jesuit priest, Father John Peter Medaille, they formed communities they named after St. Joseph.

It was a diverse group of women, most who could not even read or write, but they would dedicate themselves to helping their neighbor in the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Over the next century, they opened schools, hospitals, and missions all over France. In 1836, six Sisters traveled to the United States and established the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, who later formed Derham Hall and who remain sponsors of CDH today.

All the women in these early communities made ribbon and lace for income that supported the group and their outreach among the poor and the suffering. Lace provided a much-needed income, allowing them to do the work they felt called by God to do. They also taught the poor women and children of the community to make lace and ribbon as well, giving them the ability to earn their own livelihood. Lace, in all its delicate beauty, provided a strong sense of opportunity and salvation for these first women who founded and later grew the ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

This article and more are featured in the Spring 2017-2018 issue of the CDH Magazine, Traditions.


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