Thursday, July 30: All Things Ignatian - The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange
When we talk about Ignatian heritage, the connection to the Jesuits is obvious. But they're not the only one of LMU's sponsoring religious communities with deep Ignatian roots! The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange trace their origins to their founding by Jean-Pierre Médaille, SJ, and their spirituality is profoundly Ignatian. Sister MaryAnne Huepper, CSJ, Associate Director of the CSJ Center for Reconciliation and Justice at LMU, reflects on what St. Ignatius means to her and her fellow Sisters of St. Joseph.
Roots That Grow Deeply
Sister MaryAnne Huepper, CSJ
My earliest recollection of celebrating the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, was during my second year with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. It was a festive celebration filled with beautiful flowers, lovely music and a liturgy presided over, most likely, by a Jesuit (I regret that I do not recall that detail). I knew it was an important feast because our founder, Jean Pierre Médaille, was a Jesuit and in celebrating St. Ignatius we were recognizing the gift of Ignatian spirituality that permeated the lives of the Sisters of St. Joseph from the beginning in 1650.
However, it was really from the time of our renewal in the 1970’s through today that I grew to appreciate more deeply the treasure of this heritage. From the scholarly works of Sisters of St. Joseph who continue to explore our contextual history and the transformative nature of our spirituality, the exploration of Ignatian spirituality and discernment, to the wit and wisdom of Jesuits who have journeyed with us over the years – I continue to see our connectedness to Ignatian roots.
In a brief biography of St. Ignatius, the authors Traub and Mooney point out that the "fundamental philosophy of the mature Ignatius was that we ought to desire and choose only that which is more conducive to the end for which we are created - to praise, reverence, and serve God through serving other human beings." That philosophy was replete in the life of Médaille. As a missionary in Le Puy, France he shared this perspective with others through his preaching and spiritual direction. In particular, Médaille offered it to a group of six women who experienced with him the extreme hardships of the people of southern France. These women desired to come together to serve those most in need. Through the generous response of these women Médaille saw a new form of service possible outside the enclosure of a monastery. This way of living would be rooted in contemplation with action. This is the beginning of the story of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
As I continue to think about the Feast of St. Ignatius as a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, I am led to the words of our Constitution, "our spirit and spirituality are based on the charism of the founder, Jean Pierre Médaille, S.J." (Article 4). The gift he generously left us was his profound example of prayer and his zeal for mission rooted in Ignatian spirituality. His invitation to live out of loving contemplation together with courageous action continues to call us to 'the more,' to love the 'dear neighbor' unconditionally, and to "pursue justice in our ministries as a constitutive element of both the Gospel and our charism" (Article 16). In fact, this invitation extends to all women and men who wish to partner with us as "we seek to identify more closely with the poor, to live simply, to engage in the struggle for justice, and to work in solidarity with others for a just world" (Article 16).
 "A Biography of St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556): The Founder of the Jesuits" by George Traub, S.J., and Debra Mooney, Ph.D.
The CSJs at LMU
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange have been part of the LMU story since the 1960s, when they partnered with the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary in the governing and staffing of Marymount College as it affiliated with Loyola University and moved to Westchester. With the merger of Loyola University and Marymount College in 1973, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange joined the Society of Jesus and the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary as one of the sponsoring religious communities of Loyola Marymount University.
Today, you can find the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange in many roles at Loyola Marymount University. They are professors, administrators, campus ministers, Trustees, and more! They also run the CSJ Center for Reconciliation and Justice, which offers faculty, staff, alumni, and students a forum for dialogue, a place of education, and a resource for reflection.
More to Explore
The Sister of Saint Joseph moves always towards profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction...
- The Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange at LMU - history, images, and more
- Federation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph - union of all the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the United States who claim a common origin in the foundation at Le Puy, France
- Spirituality of the Sisters of Saint Joseph - resources related to the charism and spirituality of the Sisters of St. Joseph
- Maxims of the Little Institute - One hundred short sayings written by Jean-Pierre Médaille, SJ, as assistance for the first Sisters of St. Joseph
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