Future Full of Hope

Here’s a great article from Sr. Tracy Kemme, reflecting on the future for religious life. Realistic and hopeful!

Global sisterhoodVibrant collaborationUnity in diversity for Jesus’ mission.

These were the phrases that stayed with me as I listened to a panel of sister-peers in March. The event was Profundo Encuentro, a national discernment retreat for Hispanic young adult women, at which I was a guest. The question was, “How do you envision the future of religious life?”

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Sisters of St. Joseph Historic Sites

Photos of the sites of Le Puy. San Michel has been a sacred site from pre-Christian times. Eglise du College is the first sisters’ parish church, where Medaille preached. The kitchen is where the first sisters gathered for sharing of the heart: sharing of the fruits of their prayer and ministry. The last chair was my prayer space during my visit.

Authentic Encounter

Our local group of vocation directors met for a few days of input, networking, engagement and planning. Our speaker via video, Dr. Hofsman Ospino, shared rich insights into the place of culture in vocational discernment, and more broadly, its place in community, in church and in society.

Historically, people of color have not received the same opportunities and access that has been afforded to white people. This is true in the wider society and this is something that we are working to dismantle. We do this first of all by becoming aware of our privilege and by taking on new habits of mind and heart. We also do that by seeing and deconstructing societal norms and barriers to people of color. We have a lot of work to do.

In our days together, we focused inward on our church and on our religious communities. How can we be more ‘sister’ to our sister of color? One of our sisters of color shared her hopes: more than strategies or quick-fixes, she hopes that we can come into more and more authentic encounter. She hopes that we can truly dialogue with each other and share our community, our spirituality and our struggles for justice.


#cssjfuture – CSSJ – Into the Future


CSSJ – Into the Future is a collaborative of Sisters of St Joseph who were born in or after 1952, vowed members of the CSSJ congregations in the United States and Canada. We will gather from across the US this August in Kansas City.

We have been gathering in various configurations for a number of years. Back in the 1990s, many newer sisters felt the need to gather, to build relationships, to support one another and to support one another in religious life and mission. These circles of collaboration are a distinct facet of religious life today that has emerged in recent decades. These circles of collaboration provide spaces for the newer generations of sisters to build support networks, engage in joint projects and nurture emerging energies. Alongside the leadership conferences, vocation, and formation conferences, there are networks that the newer generations of religious have established.

In August, we will gather with other Sisters of St. Joseph. We also gather with sisters from other communities to celebrate and to nurture the great hope that we share amid all the challenges we face as communities, as a church community, and in the wider society.


Sr. Clare Professes Final Vows

Sister Clare Bass, who entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 2010, made her perpetual vows on March 30 at a Mass at the St. Louis province motherhouse.

Originally from Biloxi, Mississippi, Sister Clare is a graduate of Mississippi State University with both a bachelor’s degree in political science a master’s in public policy and administration. She is currently working on a master’s in social work at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and hopes to be a child and family therapist.

Clare is passionate about social justice and is a member of our community’s Racial and Cultural Justice Committee.

“I am humbled by the great love and support of God, my family and the Sisters of St. Joseph, and friends along the way who have all helped me reach this momentous life occasion of professing final vows,” Clare says. “My heart is filled with gratitude for all of life as I take this next step.”

Who We Are

#CSJlife is our vocation outreach website. It’s intended to engage those who may be interested in learning more about the Sisters of St. Joseph and in exploring a vocation to the Sisters of St. Joseph. While this site is focused on this journey, it’s also important to take a look at our larger community. So with this post, I would like to invite you to our main community website which we recently renovated.

To learn a little more about who we are, https://www.csjsl.org/about-us/who-we-are – will give you information about who we are, our fundamental values, our vision, our hopes and dreams. Then I would suggest you head on over to News and Events

Enjoy your visit! And feel free to reach out to us to visit, to chat, and to get to know us better.


A View from the El Paso, TX Border

In January, 2019, I responded to a request from our Province Leadership to help out at the border in El Paso. As you are aware, there has been a lot of news coverage about what is going on there. I would like to share with you about my experience there. One might think that everyone who goes to volunteer works at Annunciation House. Actually, Annunciation House is the administration center which began as a shelter for homeless and immigrants in 1978. Ruben Garcia is the administrator. Our Sr. Ida is a member of the Board.
At present, this house has expanded into 15 centers in El Paso. The Bishop of El Paso has turned the seminary over for immigrants; also many churches and convents have opened their doors. The shelter I was assigned to was a former nursing home for the Loreto Sisters. We had about 18 rooms which were filled every evening. Sometimes these 15 shelters aren’t enough so rooms in hotels are rented. It is important to note that no government assistance is received.

When I was there, the majority of immigrants were coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. A few also came from Cuba, Brazil and 1 from Africa. The Central American immigrants contract with large trucks or semi to get them to the border. One lady with 2 children told me she paid $6000 just to get to the border.

Once they cross the border, they are placed in detention centers in El Paso (large warehouses divided in sections by chicken wire) until they can meet with a lawyer. This could take 3-10 days. They sleep on mats on the floor with thermal blankets, receiving very little to eat while in detention, sometimes a frozen burrito once a day or a cup of soup.

Eventually they meet with a lawyer who fills in 3 forms:
The first form is filled with personal data and their number. The second contains the name and phone number of the receiving family – brother, sister, uncle or friend and information on what they must do when they arrive at their destination. Most of them were headed for FL, CA, NC, NY, WA or TX. The third form has information on the ICE office they will have to report to within 10 days on arriving at their destination. They are also given a list of pro-bono lawyers who can help them plead their case for asylum. All those who are coming in through El Paso have papers and are seeking asylum from the violence and gangs in their countries.

Before they leave from detention, a heavy GPS tracker is placed on the ankle of the head of the family (father or mother) – most of them are now coming as families. Once they have their papers and ankle bracelet, they are put on a bus and brought to one of the 15 shelters in El Paso, tired, hungry, sad and bedraggled. Between 500-600 are released daily. On arrival at a shelter, they get off the bus, line up, are counted by the ICE officers and turned over to us.
We immediately get to work with intake. We make a phone call to the receiving family assuring them that their family members are safe and can stay with us as long as necessary.
The receiving family is asked to buy their ticket on the bus or plane and inform us when transportation is arranged. We then give the immigrants clean clothes, sheets and towels, and give them an opportunity to shower. Rooms are assigned; most of the time two families shared a room. They are served three delicious meals a day that are provided and served by parishes and other groups in El Paso.

When confirmation of transportation is received, we take the immigrants to the airport or bus and say goodbye with many hugs, kisses and expressions of gratitude.

Soon another bus load arrives!I have often been asked what most impressed me. Many things!
-The number that comes in daily – a bus filled with 40-60 people daily at each of the 15 centers.
-The solidarity, graciousness and generosity of the people of El Paso – churches of many denominations and other groups such as the Boy Scouts bring in and serve 3 meals a day
-The gratitude shown in many ways by the immigrants – helping us with the cleaning after meals and scrubbing the floors before they leave; their appreciation for being treated with dignity and respect. Several told me it was like “Paradise” being in the shelter.

–Sister Pat Vanden Bergh

MORE Weekend

Pope Francis shares a message of hope as we approach the Lenten season:

“God’s holiness is an expanding force, and we beg that it quickly shatters barriers of our world,” he said, adding that this holiness “spreads in concentric circles, like when throwing a stone into a pond.”

Pope Francis explained that “prayer drives away all fear. The Father loves us, the Son raises his arms side by side with ours, the Spirit works in secret for the redemption of the world.”

As you begin your Lenten journey, consider joining us for a weekend discernment retreat:

Our MORE weekend is coming up, June 14-16, 2019 in St. Louis, MO.
One with God and Neighbor
Reflection and Prayer
If you are interested in joining us, check out the website below:

Many blessings in your discernment,