Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy
For many years our community was blessed with the presence of the Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy. The Sisters originally had their convent within the Sacred Heart Parish, Bellshill, from 1969 until 1986 when they moved to the Holy Family Parish, Mossend. Over the years our Parish was served by two Sisters from the order.
Sister Patrick Joseph served as Pastoral Assistant to the Parish for over nine years from September 1986 until September 1995 and then Sister Brigid from 1999 until August 2007. Both Sisters were heavily involved in various pastoral works and ministries in our Parish. Sister Patrick Joseph worked in close liaison with St Gerard's Primary helping with the preparation of the children for the reception of the Sacraments and liturgical services. She also conducted and sang in the Parish Choir and was a constant encouragement to the Laity in the various ministries within the Parish.
Sister Brigid was our organist for several years and led 'Hymn Singing' in the school each week to prepare the children for School Masses. She was also involved in various other ministries within the Parish. In June 2006, Sister Brigid celebrated her Golden Jubilee of Religious Profession with a Concelebrated Mass in St Gerard's Church. Above all the Sisters were regarded as 'friends' to the many parishioners of St Gerard's sharing their sorrows as well as their joys.
In 2007 the convent in Mossend was sadly closed and the Sisters moved to other convents in England and Wales, bringing an end to their Mission in Scotland and their association with our Parish.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Annecy are an International Congregation founded by Rev. Father Medaille S.J in 1650, in France at Le Puy in response to the challenges of the times. He gathered around him a band of dedicated and committed women who wanted to give themselves totally in the service of God. They shared a profound desire for union with God and the “Dear Neighbour”, by ministering to the sick, homeless, orphans and the dying.
The French Revolution of 1789 radically affected the visible structures of religious congregations. The Sisters of St. Joseph were dispersed; some were imprisoned, some were guillotined, and others went into hiding. After the French Revolution it rejuvenated more robustly to extend its mission overseas.
The Early Years
Communities of sisters spread rapidly throughout the South of France until the French Revolution 1789. By 1791 Sisters could no longer wear a habit, live in a community or teach in schools and in 1792 Religious Congregations in France were abolished. Some of the Sisters were imprisoned and at least five were martyred.
The year 1808 saw a re-founding under the leadership of Mother St John Fontbonne, a woman of Faith, Vision, Compassion and Prayer. She was imprisoned for eight months during the Revolution and narrowly escaped the guillotine. Before here death in 1843, she witnessed the establishing of over 250 Religious Communities with over 3000 Sisters.
In 1833 four communities of the Annecy Diocese joined Sisters from Pignerol in Italy and became the Sister of St Joseph of Annecy. From Annecy, some went to India and in 1864, three Sister from India went to England.
The Sisters in Scotland
The Sisters arrived in Scotland in 1906. The served the Junior Seminary in Blair's College, Aberdeen, from 1906 until 1986.
In 1969, four Sisters established the first ever convent in Bellshill at 78/80 Crossgates. The four Sisters were Sr Stanislaus Sup (teaching), Sr Leonard, Sr John Bosco (Parish Ministry) and Sr Joseph Therese (teaching). The Sisters taught at Sacred Heart and also did social work, nursing and helped in the parish generally.
In 1985 they moved to Clydesdale Road, Mossend, where they had two houses. Sr Brigid, the superior, ministered in St Gerard's and four others - Sr Margaret, Sr Canisius, Sr Catherine and Sr Anne - mnistered in Holy Family.
In 2007 their convent in Mossend was closed, ending their time in Bellshill and Scotland.
The Sisters also served in other areas of Scotland:
Blair's College, Aberdeen 1906-1986
Sacred Heart, Bellshill 1969-1986
St Conval's Pollock 1980-1986
Holy Family, Mossend 1986-2007
Our Lady of Fatima, Dalmarnock 1995-1998
Departure of the Sisters
Sadly in 2007, the Sisters of St Joseph of Annecy closed their convent in Mossend, which not only brought to an end their presence in Bellshill but their presence in Scotland, where they had served for over 100 years. On 28th August 2007, a Mass was celebrated in the Holy Family Church, Mossend, in Thanksgiving for the Sisters and to mark the end of their Mission in Scotland. The Mass was celebrated by Cardinal Keith O'Brien along with many local Priests.
The departure of the Sisters was a sad loss for the community, especially our Parish where they had served for many years.
Order of Service for Sister Brigid's Golden Jubilee Mass
16th June 2006
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Photos courtesy of St Gerard's Parish & www.holyfamilymossend.co.uk