The First Congregation of Sisters in China which is 152 Years Old

BEJING, Gtpministries.org – Religious Congregation of St. Joseph in the Archdiocese of Beijing celebrated his 152nd birthday this year. At this moment of celebration, the sisters who are members of the congregation want to trace back history, deepen and revive the charism of the founder by taking the path of synod

The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph is the first congregation of sisters born in China, especially in the Archdiocese of Bejing. Thus, this congregation is the first religious congregation of indigenous women in the Bamboo Curtain country.

This congregation was founded by Mgr. Louis-Gabriel Delaplace, CM, then Archbishop of Beijing, in 1872 the sisters continued their intense pastoral and missionary commitment, living community life, despite the pandemic and its consequences for the life of the Church.

The laity has always been their first apostolic commitment, which is why they regularly promote “Opening Days” to welcome lay people and non-Christians alike. They experienced this opportunity in four moments: a presentation of the history and life of the congregation; guided visits; seminars or simple exchange meetings; prayer in the chapel. Currently 49 sisters work in various dioceses, parishes, schools, clinics and nursing homes.

During formation, each candidate is required to have skills and knowledge about religion, culture, psychology and morals. Some sisters also took courses in physics, Chinese literature, Chinese moral traditions, social sciences, and foreign languages.

This congregation holds the motto from 1 Cor 9,19 (“I have become a slave to everyone to win the greatest amount”) and from Luke 17,10 (“If you have done everything that was commanded you, say: We are unprofitable servants . We did what we had to do.”

According to historical sources, during a time of meditation and prayer, Msgr. Delaplace was inspired by Saint Joseph to found a Chinese religious congregation. The proposal was discussed at the Vatican Council of 1870.

After two years of preparation, with the help of the Canossian Sisters, the Congregation of Saint Joseph was founded in Beijing in 1872, whose nuns came from Beijing and the surrounding area.

After 150 years, there are now nuns from various provinces in China. According to its founder, the main goals of the Congregation are service (ecclesiastical and social) and mission.

In 1941 the Congregation reformed its structure, changing its statutes and religious customs, and adding a confession of the vow of poverty. Previously, they only took vows of obedience and purity.

Their birthdays are celebrated on the Feast of Saint Joseph. Their work is primarily in the areas of health and education, but they are always available for the diocese’s requests and needs, it was reported.

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