Who are we ?

We are apostolic women religious, namely women seized by the love of God and committed to follow Christ through His paschal mystery of death and resurrection.

« We recognize, in our ‘littleness’, that our common experience ‘of an infinite God’ lies in having been seized by Christ’s love and in having left everything to follow Him. Our life finds its unity in this, through the joyful and total gift of self for the service of others. » (Ct 89)

We belong to the Ignatian family.

The influence of spiritual currents of the seventeenth century, particularly St. Francis de Sales and the French School has colored our spirituality. Ignatian pedagogy provides us with ways to grow in faith and love.


Sisters of Saint Joseph of Lyon,

« Called by the Spirit to follow Christ, we acknowledge Trinitarian love present throughout the world and proclaim it among ourselves and to everyone. » (Ct 3):

Rooted in the mystery of the Trinity, the Congregations of St. Joseph have as mission to « work towards the double union of people among themselves and with God » (cf. E.L. n° 29).

It is through the Eucharist, « mystery of unity and perfectly uniting » ( E.L. n°28), model and  source of our love of God and of neighbor, that helps us welcome this gift of unity, to live it among ourselves, in community and with the « dear neighbor » (E.L. n°29)

Women in relationship, in humility, listening, respecting the other, in simplicity, cordiality, we seek, wherever we are, to weave relationships and to facilitate reconciliation.

In the reality of the various countries where we are inserted, Christ grants us to live our mission of communion within the church.

Our origin & evolution

The Congregation of St. Joseph was born in Le Puy en Velay, France, in 1650, in response to the situation of war, famine and social injustice etc.  It is one of the first feminine congregations juridically recognized as an apostolic religious congregation, thanks to the founder, Jean Pierre MEDAILLE and Msgr. Henri de Maupas, Bishop of Le Puy en Velay.

During his missions in the central region of France, Father Médaille met some “widows and young women” who did not feel attracted to the cloistered religious life but who desired to consecrate themselves to God and serve the neighbor. They are: Françoise Eyraud, Claudia Chastel, Marguerite Burdier, Anna Vey, Anna Chaleyer and Anna Brun.

For them and with them, Father Médaille conceived the project of a new congregation.  Rapidly, the Sisters become more numerous and live in small communities, without any distinctive sign, engaging themselves in all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

The French Revolution (1789) disperses the congregation.

After the Revolution, some communities regroup and form new congregations.

Sister St. John Fontbonne, after having been imprisoned and freed, is called to St. Etienne, in 1808, to accompany 12 women who desire to become religious and she forms them according to the spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Many other young women present themselves.

Mother St. John is then called to Lyon where she establishes the motherhouse: communities multiply giving birth to new congregations in France and abroad.  The Sisters respond to a wide range of services.

At the beginning of the century, the laws of secularization in France, as well as requests from different countries, lead to the departure of Sisters to: Armenia, Belgium, Canada, Egypt, England, Greece, India, Ireland, Lebanon, Mexico, Switzerland, and the United States.

Later, animated by the Spirit of Vatican Council II (1963-1965), the Sisters seek to respond to urgent needs in West Africa and the St. Joseph Congregations work more together.

In 1996, there is the fusion of the St. Joseph Congregations of Bourg and Bordeaux with Lyon.

In collaboration with others, we work for unity and reconciliation, living the call of the Gospel: “That All May be One,” for the life of the world.