Small groups of these women spread throughout France where they earned a living making lace, and they taught other women the trade of lacemaking so they could be empowered to earn a living and feel better themselves. In a world of chaos, disunity and inequality, the vision of these first sisters came from their conviction that loving God meant bringing God’s love, healing and justice to all people – no exceptions.
The vitality and expansion of the Congregation continued until halted by the French Revolution. Convents were burned; the groups of Sisters were forced to disband; some were thrown into prison and some were beheaded at the guillotine. It was thought that the dream of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Joseph had died.
However, after the French Revolution, the community was refounded by Sister Jeanne Fontbonne, who had narrowly escaped the guillotine herself. Under her leadership, the Congregation flourished and spread through and beyond the region. The new French Government called for universal education, and so the Sisters, once again, meeting the needs of the times, became teachers throughout France and then to other countries including the United States.
In the year 1949 – the Sisters bought a white frame house on Cathedral Avenue, Hempstead, and called it Sacred Heart Academy. It began with a faculty of 3 sisters and 2 lay teachers, and 60 freshmen. The garage on the property became the gym -- and the cafeteria and the assembly hall – all in one. In 1952 the doors of our present school building opened -- without the gym and the theatre – and then SHA grew and grew and grew!
The Sisters of St. Joseph continue to minister today with many
Other lay women and men who partner with them in meeting the needs of the times, in empowering young women, and in living the mission of inclusive love, unity, reconciliation, justice and peace. On this, our Founders Day, we, the Sisters of St. Joseph at Sacred Heart Academy, thank you for your love and support, and ask for your prayer as we journey with you into the future.
We pray: May God who created us, Jesus who showed us God’s face, and the Spirit who abides in our hearts, bless and uphold us all. Amen. Happy Founders Day to all in the Sacred Heart Academy community.
We end this prayer: In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.