This article comes from the SSJ newsletter.
Sunday morning, September 8, 2013, dawned beautiful, bright and sunny… perfect weather to mark a significant moment in the history of Saint Bridget Parish in Philadelphia. One hundred twenty-five years ago the Sisters of Saint Joseph began their ministry here in this picturesque locality of the Falls of the Schuylkill.
In 1884, Reverend William Walsh, pastor of Saint Bridget Parish, recognized the need for a school and procured land on Stanton Street for this purpose. The cornerstone was laid in October 1887, and the school, dedicated by Archbishop Patrick Ryan, opened in September 1888.
The staff consisted of a band of eight Sisters of Saint Joseph. Since the convent was not completed, the sisters traveled each day by train and horse and buggy from Saint Michael Convent at Second and Jefferson Streets and Old Saint Joseph’s at Fourth and Alley. The group included the superior, Mother Angela and the
following sisters: Sister Regina, Sister Laurentina, Sister Joachim, Sister Sabina, Sister Natalie, Sister Celestine and Sister Assunta. Since those original eight, 271 Sisters of Saint Joseph have ministered at Saint Bridget Parish and School.
Gratitude and love for the Sisters of Saint Joseph were evident as the congregation gathered for the 11:00 a.m. Liturgy, presided over by the pastor, Reverend Joseph P. Devlin. The historic church was filled with parishioners, families, friends, and sisters. Many sisters who had been missioned there returned for the celebration, as well as sisters who entered the congregation from Saint Bridget Parish. Among those in attendance was Sister Clare Annice White SSJ who entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1936 from Saint Bridget Parish.
Among those in attendance was Sister Clare Annice White SSJ who entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1936 from Saint Bridget Parish. She was thrilled to be there and proud to share that her father had done the original landscaping when the church was built. As the hymn, “Glorious Father Dear Saint Joseph,” was sung by the congregation, one could sense the pride, joy and memories that will always remain precious to the parishioners of Saint Bridget Parish and the Sisters of Saint Joseph.
Although the school is now closed, the presence of the Sisters of Saint Joseph continues through the dedication and ministries of Sisters Dorothy Crowley, Patricia Egan and Margaret Jude Sullivan, who minister at Saint Bridget Parish, and Sister Rosanne Orchon who is in residence. It would be difficult to describe the great good that has been accomplished and the many graces received over the past 125 years at Saint Bridget Parish. As Sisters of Saint Joseph, we are grateful for the opportunity and privilege of continuing to serve alongside our dear neighbors—the people of East Falls.