Ste. Genevieve Honors CSJs

giljum accepts plaque

Three years before the outbreak of the American Civil War, six Sisters of St. Joseph boarded a steamboat in St. Louis and traveled 60 miles south to the French settlement of Ste. Genevieve. They arrived August 28, 1858.  The request for sisters to staff the parish school came from the pastor, Father Irenaeus St. Cyr.  A school had been opened by the Sisters of Loretto in 1837. When they withdrew, property belonging to them was purchased by Mother St. John Facemaz, Superior General, who had selected the sisters who were to assume responsibility for the school in the small Missouri town.

Mother Gonzaga Grand, Sisters Bridget Burke, Theodore McCormick, Clemence Motschman, Dorothea Rufin and Dorothea Grand moved into their convent, a white frame building with an orchard, garden and adjoining fields and vineyard. Forty-two girls were in the school which was named St. Francis de Sales Academy.  French was the prevailing language. In 1924, a high school was organized and named Valle High after Felix and Odile Valle, benefactors of the church.  The last Sister of St. Joseph to reside in Ste. Genevieve was S. Patricia Murphy who departed in 1994.  Sisters had been engaged in their ministry of education there for 136 years.

Twelve Sisters of St. Joseph traveled to Ste. Genevieve on September 6 at the invitation of the people of the parish to participate in the year long celebration of their 250th anniversary.  Various groups are being honored for their contributions to the parish and on the first Sunday in September, the Sisters of St. Joseph were acknowledged. The 12 of us had all taught either at Valle High School or Ste. Genevieve Elementary School. But all were aware that they represented more than 300 sisters who had educated generations of students there.

At the Eucharistic celebration on September 6, a banner with the shield of the Sisters of St. Joseph led the entrance procession. This banner will be kept in the church during the anniversary year and later will be presented to the sisters.  The pastor, Fr. Dennis Schmidt, paid tribute to the hundreds of sisters who had made invaluable contributions and undergone great sacrifices to bring Catholic education to generations of students in the two schools. He spoke of the gratitude of the people of the parish for the Sisters of St. Joseph and for the years of dedication to their students. 

Two plaques were presented. Sara Menard, school principal, accepted the first which will be hung in the school. S. Pat Giljum, member of the Province Leadership, accepted the second plaque in the name of the whole community. She acknowledged the years of partnership between parishioners and the sisters as well as the significance of the anniversary. The inscription:

Presented to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.  "We live and work to bring all people into union with God and with one another."  (CSJ Core Constitution) In appreciation for your 136 years of teaching and service given to Valle Schools. 1858-1994. Given by Ste. Genevieve Catholic Church 2009.

The Eucharistic liturgy concluded with the singing of the "Gloria Patri," especially prepared by the choir and their director, Al Keiser. This was one of the beautiful details that made the occasion so joyful. The celebration continued at a reception in the cafeteria.

Written by S. Kate Filla with assistance from Srs. Lucida Savage and Jane Behlmann.

Click here to view more photos from the Eucharist celebration. Photos taken by Bill Naeger of Ste. Genevieve, MO.

<< Back to News

Change Text Size   A|  A|  A