Category Archives: life as a sister

September 16, 2015

49 years…called to be a vivifying leaven!

With all the social media platforms available, this blog seems to keep slipping off the bottom of my “to-do” list. Here is an attempt to get it up and active again.

49 years ago, on September 15, 1966, I entered the Sisters of St. Joseph. Need I say it was the best choice I ever made. Did I know what I was really doing? no! Did I imagine religious life as we know it today…well mostly no…but I will never forget an assignment I was given as a senior in high school.

The teacher asked us to reflect on a quote from Gaudium et Spes. It went something like: The Christian should be a vivifying leaven in the Church and society. I happened to be on the train that day and wondered what this could mean. I looked around at others and thought to myself, this is where we need to be a vivifying leaven. The Church is going to change and I’m going to have to change with it.

As a 17-year old, I really didn’t know what all that meant but in the past 49 years I’ve learned a lot as the Church has changed. Our present pope is certainly calling us to be that vivifying leaven. And the reality is, although many who entered with us have since chosen different paths, we have all been vivifying leaven where ever our journey brought us.

September 30, 2009

A Sister of St. Joseph Professes Final Vows and Soundings Update

Last Saturday one of our sisters professed Final Vows. Last Thursday, two days before her vow liturgy, Sister Pat led a midday prayer service at our health care center in Framingham. You can click on this link: to read an article about this prayer service in the latest issue of Soundings Update
I selected the picture at the left for this blog post because when Pat professed First Vows three years ago the image of seeds growing and spreading where they will was central to that celebration. The dandelion puff is actually from our side yard this past spring.

As I reflect on Pat’s journey, I’ve prayed with these passages from The Constitution of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston:

  • Membership in our Congregation is the relationship which results from each woman’s response to the Lord and the decision of the Congregation and the Church to accept the religious profession which she makes as a Sister of Saint Joseph of Boston.
  • Membership requires a dynamic fideltiy to the purpose for which the Spirit brought our Congregation into existence in the Church and to the charism with which we are gifted.
  • …we, the Congregation, open ourselves to her influence and to the Spirit speaking in her, just as she undertakes continuing conversion into membership. Together we enter into a process of change that carries our past into the promise of the future.

As I ponder these words, I realize that not only has Pat become more fully the woman God calls her to be but we, in turn, have indeed been influenced for the better by her presence among us.

A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God

August 5, 2009

A Sister of St. Joseph’s Summer musings

When a few of my friends reminded me that I haven’t posted on this blog for a while, I realized that I seem to have taken an unscheduled “blog-cation.” The past couple of weeks have been spent at my annual week-long directed retreat, going to funerals and weddings, and a variety of “this and that.” [this is a title that a sister who works with me often gives when she sends an email that contains a variety of topics. ]

Retreat, as usual, was wonderful. I was a bit nervous when anticipating retreat because it is the first time I’ve gone to the Genesis Spiritual Life Center in Westfield, MA. For over 20 years I’ve made retreat at Mercy Center in Madison, CT but they are renovating the main building and can only offer accommodations to a small number of overnight retreatants. I’ve included a few pictures of Westfield throughout this post.

About “this and that:”

Our Associate Director is designing a new booklet for the Associate mentoring process. Our Assistant Director of Communication is doing the design work on the booklet and I’m helping with the content and proofreading. The Associates with the Sisters of St. Joseph are women and men called to share their faith journeys with one another and with the Sisters of St. Joseph. We have over 100 Associates in Boston and New Mexico. You can learn more at on our website.

There are a number of other projects percolating in our office. Summer seems to be a good time to turn attention to these ventures. Both our Assistant Director of Communication and I have been out and about photographing various summer happenings and interviewing sisters and associates for upcoming publications.

I’m a member of our Initial Formation Team. One of our sisters is professing Final Vows in a few weeks. Today she stopped by the office with a few questions about her plans for the vow celebration. Our Boston CSJ vocation page gives some information about the process that leads up to professing Final Vows.

I’ve been helping a couple of people figure out how to work an online program called “doodle easy scheduler” that helps groups plan meetings. I’m not trying to advertise “Doodle” but, if you’ve ever spent days with emails going back and forth to schedule a meeting or a conference call, it’s worth checking out.

I’m also trying to become more skilled with Facebook. This is something I said I’d NEVER do. But on two occasions this past summer, I became aware of it’s potential to make connections with friends and relatives. The first was a July 4th party with a group of people from a parish I was part of for over 20 years. The archdiocese closed the parish and I’ve lost touch with a lot of the people there. The second was a memorial service for my aunt and uncle where I realized that many of my 30-something cousins are sharing pictures of their kids on Facebook and I’m missing the action. These cousins live all over the country and some in Europe so it’s a good way to keep in touch.

For many years Fr. Austin Fleming was part of the parish I mentioned above. He found me through Facebook, linked my blog to his and asked me to link his blog to mine…which I’ve just done. My hope is that this one good use of technology as a means of spreading the word about the Church and religious life today.

A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God

May 10, 2009

A Perfect Saturday Day of Prayer

Yesterday was pure gift. A group of sisters gathered at one of our houses by the ocean in Cohasset for a day of reflection. The group included newer members, the sisters who live with them, sisters from our hospitality house, and members of our Initial Formation Team.

Dorothea, one of our sisters, facilitated our prayer during the day. This picture is of the centerpiece in the room where we gathered. It includes a bible, a statue of Mother St. John Fontbonne, a candle that was brought from a visit toTaize, France, during our 2008 CSSJ Heritage, and scarf that was given to all who participated in the 200th anniversary of MSJF regathering sisters after the French Revolution and beginning the expansion of the Sisters of St. Joseph throughout the world.

The statue has MSJF with one foot forward always ready for the next good thing. I’ve included a picture that focuses on that part of the statue. The original is a full size statue designed by Mary Southard, CSJ from Illinois and is in the center of the Heritage Center in Lyon France.

More about the day: The day of prayer was really a refreshing opportunity for all who gathered. There was ample time for personal prayer and time to share the state of our heart. We all come from such full ministries. During her introduction, Dorothea invited us to slow down “the frieight train of our restless minds and hearts.” This really touched my soul. I realized how full the previous week had been and her words really allowed me to slow down.

The sisters who gathered were so grateful for the time to connect with God and one another in this way. It was a perfect follow-up to Gathering the Daughters. There we were with 65 newer members of the Sisters of St. Joseph from all over the US and Canada as well as those who are part of Formation Teams. At this day of prayer we were with our newer members and some who are on the journey with them in our local Boston Congregation. The balance of the two gatherings was wonderful.
On another note: When I wrote the explanation of the statue of MSJF with one foot forward, it reminded me to mention the article about Sister Anna Mary Kelly that is in today’s Boston Globe. She was a woman who, like Mother St. John Fontbonne, always had one foot forward ready for the next new thing. Sister Anna Mary passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 97. This is a link to the article in today’s Globe and a couple of other recent articles about her.
From the Boston Globe:
From The Pilot — the archdoicesan Catholic newspaper:
From our Boston CSJ website:
A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God

January 17, 2009

A seventh grader’s curiosity about sisters

One thing I love about my work as Director of Communication is that no two days are ever the same. A couple of days ago I received a call from a seventh grader in Louisiana. Apparently her teacher has assigned a project about religious life. I was ready to steer her toward the Congregation of St. Joseph who have sisters in Louisiana when she began telling me all about them. I guess someone else in the class has selected that group. So she found our CSSJ U.S. Federation website and from there came across the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston.

I was impressed by all the research this young girl had already done. Although she had a tough time pronouncing “Médaille,” she knew that the sisters based in Louisiana were formerly part of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Médaille and that they had become the Congregation of St. Joseph a couple of years ago.

She wanted pictures of us when we were in habits. She wasn’t familiar with the word “habit” and called it, “those weird clothes.” I explained how our first sisters didn’t wear habits. I told her how they wanted to go out and serve the poor in 17th century France but the only women who could be out on the streets unaccompanied by a man were widows. They wore black dresses because they had to look like other ordinary women who were out on the street in order to serve the people in need. I’m sure I gave her a lot more information than she bargained for – but no pictures of habits.

She also asked for pictures of our “headquarters” — we call it the Motherhouse. What I was able to find was a picture of our sisters and associates at a Peace Vigil on Good Friday, 2008. There’s a good view of the Motherhouse in the background.

She said she’d send pictures of her project when it’s completed.

A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God

January 7, 2009

Introducing A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog

My name is Joanne Gallagher, CSJ. I am a Sister of St. Joseph [CSJ]. We are a Roman Catholic religious community of women. I am based in the Boston area and am a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston. But there are over 12,000 Sisters of St. Joseph and about 5,000 Associates all over the world. We are ordinary women from all walks of life. We are women of the church rooted in the Gospel. Our special focus, our mission, is to work for unity and reconciliation where there is brokenness, to help people become whole and holy, individually and together. Together with our Associates we are impelled by the active, inclusive love of God to deepen our relationship with God and neighbor without distinction.

I work as Director of Communication for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston. I love being a sister and have always looked for ways to share our spirituality and rich heritage with others. In publishing newsletters and working with the press, I realize there is so much about the way in which sisters and associates live their day-to-day lives that does not make it into the news. A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog is intended to be about our life as Sisters of St. Joseph in those ordinary moments you don’t usually hear about in the news.
You can learn about us at:

We also have two YouTube posts at

A Sister of St. Joseph’s Blog
Connecting Neighbor with Neighbor and Neighbor with God