Copyright©2008. Congregation of Saint Joseph.
In 1883, Mother Stanislaus Leary of Rochester, New York stopped in Kansas en route to Arizona. At the urging of Bishop Louis Mary Fink, Order of St. Benedict in Leavenworth, she abandoned her plans. She went first to Newton and later to Concordia, where she established a motherhouse. In 1886 Sister Bernard Sheridan of the Erie, Pennsylvania, congregation joined the new congregation in Concordia. In the summer of 1887, Bishop Fink asked Mother Stanislaus to send sisters to Abilene, Kansas, to staff St. Andrew parochial school and to build an academy. Mother Stanislaus sent Sister Bernard along with Sisters Armella McGrath, Domitilla Gannon, Angela Costello and Amelia Fitzgibbon, followed by Sister Sebastian Collins in May of 1888.
In the fall of 1887, word was received from Rome that the state of Kansas had been divided into dioceses. In addition to Leavenworth, episcopal cities were now established in Wichita and Concordia. Abilene was in the Leavenworth diocese. At the direction of Bishop Fink, who did not wish to lose the sisters from his diocese, the Abilene sisters constituted themselves a separate congregation with an act of incorporation of March 25, 1888. Sisters Angela and Amelia chose to return to Concordia. Sister Bernard Sheridan along with Sisters Domitilla, Armella and Sebastian formed the nucleus of the new congregation.
MOTHER BERNARD SHERIDAN
While a member of the Erie congregation, Mother Bernard taught school, cared for orphans at the Erie motherhouse, and studied anesthesia at St. Vincent Hospital. In 1885, she volunteered to go to Kansas and in 1886 she joined the Concordia community. Mother Bernard was a woman of faith: faith in God, faith in the cause to which she committed herself, faith in her little congregation and faith in herself. In many respects, she was always a pilgrim, always in search of an illusive place she could call home. In response to diocesan authorities, she had three homes in twelve years--Abilene, Parsons and St. Paul, Kansas--before coming to Wichita in 1900.
A PERMANENT HOME IN WICHITA
In December 1899, Bishop Hennessy negotiated the purchase of land and a building in east Wichita that was the former site of Wichita University of the Dutch Reform Church. He also authorized needed repairs. Mother Bernard accepted the deed to the property along with its debt, and the congregation occupied the building on March 25, 1900. This was the fourth motherhouse of the congregation and was to become its permanent home. Bishop Hennessy brought the sisters to Wichita to staff the parochial schools of the diocese. This necessitated their withdrawal from other ministry commitments outside the Wichita diocese, some as far away as Iowa and Missouri.
Today, in response to the needs of a changing church and society, the Wichita community’s ministries include working with persons with disabilities, a day care center, transitional housing, a clinic for the indigent, care of the elderly in senior communities, services for battered women and children, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, parish scripture classes and other parish ministry services, literacy classes, pastoral care, counseling and spiritual direction, crisis pregnancy counseling, ministry to the deaf, retreat work and a prayer apostolate. The scope of congregational ministry has not been limited to the United States.
In 1950, the congregation responded to the need for medical services in Kyoto, Japan. Three sisters began a mission which today sponsors a kindergarten, day nursery, medical services for senior citizens, a disabled children's hospital, a special education school and retreat opportunities.
Ministries We Founded:
Via Christi Health System
Hilltop Community Peace Gardens
Dear Neighbor Ministries
StepStone Transitional Housing
St. Joseph Adoption and Referral Services
Peace & Justice
Make a Gift – Mission Advancement Office, 3700 East Lincoln, Wichita, Kansas 67218-2099; 316.689.4061. or email Pat Milenius at email@example.com
Contact Us – Mount St. Mary Convent, 3700 East Lincoln, Wichita, Kansas 67218-2099; 316.689.4040. or email InfoWichita@csjoseph.org