Sisters of Saint Joseph
The Sisters of St. Joseph have been involved in the life of the Niagara region for more than 150 years, primarily through the Sisters’ teaching in elementary and secondary schools. It all began in 1851, when four Sisters arrived in Toronto from the United States, in response to an appeal by the Bishop of Toronto, to minister to the urgent needs of that diocese.
Just five years, later in 1856, at the request of Dean Grattan, three Sisters came to St. Catharines to teach Catholic children, many of them the children of Irish labourers who had moved to the area to find work in the building of the Welland Canal. After Christmas of that year, the Sisters accepted the responsibility of the only parochial school in St. Catharines. Over the years, there was a gradual growth of the separate schools due to changes in population and fluctuations in the financial world.
By 1970 at least two Sisters, one being the Principal, were assigned to each of the following schools: St. Nicholas, St. Catherine, St. Mary, St. Joseph, St. John, St. Denis, St. Alfred, Christ the King, Canadian Martyrs, St. Christopher and St Peter.
When the convent at Church and James Streets was completed in 1875, it not only provided a residence for the Sisters but as the need warranted, it housed a music department, a private elementary school and eventually St. Joseph’s High School for Girls from 1946-1958. When Denis Morris Catholic High School opened in 1958, St Joseph closed and the Sisters joined the staff at Denis Morris.
From 1866 to 1986 the Sisters of St. Joseph lived in Thorold and taught in three schools there as well as in Merritton, Fonthill, Niagara Falls and Welland.
Inducted: February 4, 2005