The Mystical Communion of the Sisters of St. Joseph
Catholic Church can be looked at in several different ways. The church is divided up into six models: institution, mystical communion, sacrament, herald, community of disciples, and servant. The Sisters of Saint Joseph dedicate their lives to live out these models of the church. As stated on their website (Consensus Statement), “The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and Consociates are a community committed to continuing Jesus’ mission in the world by responding to the needs of our time. In the spirit of the Gospel, we work toward right relationships with God, persons, and Earth. We strive to foster the common good through advocacy, creative arts, education, healthcare, social service, and spirituality.” Myself and two other classmates went to visit the Saint Bethany clinic of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. We found out how they dedicate their lives to helping others as they help themselves. The Sisters of Saint Joseph practice the mystical communion model of the church in their every day lives.
The Sisters of Saint Joseph are a Roman Catholic order of women, including approximately 14,000 members worldwide. The order was founded in Le Puy, France by the Jesuit, or Society of Jesus, and were accepted by the bishop in 1650. In reply to the rapid growth of the institute, the Sisters of Saint Joseph journeyed to America. According to the Sisters’ mission statement, “The Sisters aspire to ‘a profound love of God and the dear neighbor’, and love and work so that all may be one.” (Consensus Statement) After visiting the Saint Bethany Clinic, we found that they continue to live out their mission statement in the Twin Cities. The Sisters operate many different ministries to help other people as they help themselves, such as, teaching English as a second language to others, helping with immigrate women, bring communion to hospitals, and run hospitals to take care of the sick and elder sisters.
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After visiting the Sisters of Saint Joseph in the Saint Paul region we realized how much they actually do for the common good. Their institute was very big and did very many things for others. We talked to Sister Annabelle, who gave us a general perspective of what exactly the Sisters do at the clinic. According the Sister Annabelle, the workers have very many responsibilities that they do every day in order to take care of retired Sisters. “The workers here take care of the sick, practice nurses, house keeping, house cooking, as well as bring in every thing that the every day person would have to go out and get.” (Raiche, Annabelle, Sister).
She told us how their are ninety four sisters living in the clinic right now that are being taken care of. Some of them are bed redden and some are “up and at ’em” as Sister Annabelle Raiche told us.
The Sisters of Saint Joseph live out all of the church models. One model that they live out that really stood out is the model of mystical communion. According to an article on the six models of Church, “In the Christian Testament, the church is often described as the Body of Christ. The community of believers–professing Christian faith, caring for one another, celebrating the Eucharist together, serving the poor–becomes the body of Jesus on earth. And the different parts of this body of Jesus are related to one another in the same way that members of an actual physical body are intimately dependent on one another.” (Koch, Carl).
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The Sisters live this model of the Church out very well. The Sisters at St. Bethany’s dedicate their lives to helping retired Sisters and caring for the sick. They care for one another and help each other as they would help themselves. This is because they are all apart of the Christian faith and the Catholic Church. Another example of how the Sisters live out this model of the church is how they all live their lives together in one big home. The Sisters of St. Bethany live together with 94 Sisters in total. This expresses how the church is one big family of believers in Jesus Christ.
Throughout this journey through research and a visit to Saint Josephs and an interview with a Sister of St. Bethany, the Sisters have really proven themselves to practice the mystical communion model of the church in their every day lives. Whether it was running hospitals for sick and elder Sisters or just bringing communion to people in hospitals, the Sisters of Saint Joseph have been living their lives serving others and expressing the many models of the Catholic Church from the early years of the Institute in Le Puy, France in 1650 all the way to the 20th century in the Twin Cities.