A 21st Century Vision of Collaboration for Catholic Education

By Brett Allen     12/3/2019

The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph was begun around the year 1650 in small communities established in the area of Le Puy, France by women of whom we know little more than their names, and by a Jesuit priest, Jean-Pierre Medaille, who had a unique idea about religious communities of women. Father Medaille had a vision to go out into the city, divide up the neighborhoods, discover the needs of the people, find ways to meet them, and identify lay partners who want to do good works in collaboration.

Today, the Congregation’s commitment to education is expressed in a variety of forms including elementary, secondary, university and other adult education. The commitment to extend the healing mission of Christ is expressed through acute care hospitals, rehabilitation programs, home health care, community education, primary-care clinics, and wellness programs. The works of the Congregation have expanded, however, beyond education and health care to also include helping new immigrants, feeding the hungry, giving shelter to the homeless, and fostering spiritual development.

This commitment by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange to recognize and respond to community needs, led to the creation of the CSJ Educational Network in 1988. The CSJ Educational Network, collaborates in the Church’s mission of education through a network of affiliated Catholic schools throughout California. Empowered by the Sisters’ charism “that all may be one” (Jn 17:21), the CSJ Educational Network is committed to being builders of unity and instruments of reconciliation in the affiliated school communities.

The CSJ Educational Network provides programs and services that focus on the spiritual and professional needs of the educators in the member schools. Member schools have access to the faith-based, educational resources, and professional experience and expertise of personnel of the Educational Network. The Ministerial Formation Program for Educators offers all Educational Network members opportunities to grow in their knowledge of the Catholic faith, deepening their spiritual life and sharing with others how to promote and build a Catholic identity within the classroom. The Peer Leadership Program is a peer-learning experience that engages school leaders in an environment to reflect and address critical leadership learning opportunities as the spiritual and academic mentors of Catholic school ministries. In addition, in-service opportunities and faculty retreats help renew the call and commitment to the teaching mission of Jesus through prayer, personal integration and community building.

The CSJ Educational Network core values of Catholic identity, excellence, justice and dignity reflect its mission and vision for Catholic education in the 21st century. By empowering school leaders to form students as proactive instruments of unity and reconciliation in the Church and a global society, the CSJ Educational Network extends and fosters the teaching ministry of Jesus in the tradition of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Orange, by nurturing and supporting relationships that influence Catholic education. Such relationships help educators to form and transform a Catholic school’s academic and social mission, into a community of faith where Jesus, as the Master Teacher, is the inspiration for all.

For more information on the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange and the CSJ Educational Network please visit http://csjorange.org/ and https://www.csjednetwork.org/