Open House Brings 700+ Visitors to the Motherhouse

open house

Mother St. John Fontbonne (Sister Donna Gunn) tells the story of how the Sisters of St. Joseph began their mission in France and arrived in America 175 years ago.

Click here for the photo gallery.

On Saturday, October 15, more than 700+ guests of all ages visited the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet's historic home to celebrate 175 years of mission and ministry in America.  Guests had opportunity to tour the building (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) and see spectacular architectural details, holy artifacts and renowned works of art.

They also visited the heritage exhibit to learn more about the history of the sisters, their ministries and their impact on the local, national and global levels. Sister Donna Gunn brought the history to life with her presentations as Mother St. John Fontbonne, the sisters' foundress who sent the Sisters of St. Joseph to America from France in 1836, three of whom took up residence in a log cabin in the Missouri village of Carondelet to teach the deaf.

By 1900 the log cabin was replaced by a seven-wing building and chapel, known today as the St. Louis Province Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

The motherhouse was home to approximately 3,500 sisters who were formed in faith to "serve the dear neighbor" in education, health care, pastoral ministries, and outreach services, particularly in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. It was also once home to St. Joseph's Institute for the Deaf, St. Joseph's Academy and Fontbonne College (now University), three of the sisters' institutions that are a vibrant part of Catholic education in St. Louis today.

In addition to housing sister residents and the province administration, this living landmark serves as a hospitality center that hosts events, meetings, retreats, seasonal liturgies and concerts.

The open house was another opportunity for the sisters to extend this hospitality to their friends, supporters and partners, as well as to visitors being introduced to the Sisters of St. Joseph for the first time. Many visitors reflected they came to reconnect with the sister who taught them years ago; others said they had seen the building many times and always wondered what it was like inside.  

"We are honored to share our home with so many people who have been a part of our story," says Province Leader Sister Pat Giljum, CSJ, "and with those who will carry the mission with us into the future."

<< Back to News

Change Text Size   A|  A|  A