Our History

It's never easy to be different, to seek another path, to be a pioneer. Being different takes courage, an indomitable spirit, and an iron will doesn't hurt. And, that's today!

So try, if you can, to imagine a group of religious women in 17th century France, who decided they could do more to serve God's people by working in the community rather than within their convent walls. In 1650, these pioneering women, these founding Sisters of Saint Joseph, wanted to serve God and their neighbors by looking for the needs and meeting those needs as best they could. Their concept was embraced throughout Europe.

Fast forward to the 1800's. A small group of Sisters sailed from France to settle in Missouri -- an arduous, even perilous, trip to an unknown land. From Carondelet, Missouri, four of these courageous women decided to make the journey to Canandaigua, New York. They traveled in December 1854, and a severe snowstorm detained them in Buffalo.

Anyone familiar with western New York knows that winter travel can offer challenges. Along with the weather, the Sisters were also challenged by their era (no electricity, erratic heating, etc.), their dress, and insufficient funds caused by an unplanned extended stay in Buffalo.

Yet, they persevered. Driven by their desire to do God's work, the pioneering quartet reached their destination. This tiny community would become the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Rochester.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Today

The Sisters continue to own and operate Nazareth Elementary School and sponsor nine ministries as well as do mission work in Brazil and Alabama. We are still teachers and care givers. But that's only part of the picture. Many Sisters also serve as Pastoral Administrators, health care workers , social workers, realtors and much more. Serving our neighbors, all people, no matter who they are or where they find themselves, is our mission. Our works are as varied as contemporary needs and as diverse as the God-given gifts of our members.


Are You Doing Research?

Academic researchers, students and genealogists are welcome to contact our Archives by clicking on the link below and completing the Archive Request form.


Sisters of Saint Joseph of Rochester

Sisters of Saint Joseph of
Rochester Motherhouse
150 French Road
Rochester, NY 14618

Main: (585) 641-8100
Gift Shop: (585) 641-8137

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