Earlier today, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto (CSJ) held the online book launch for 170 Years of Service: A Collection of Essays on the History and Mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto, edited by Elizabeth M. Smyth and Linda F. Wicks.
The seven essays in this volume trace the roots of the Sisters of St. Joseph from their biblical and medieval foremothers, through the Congregation’s activities in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries. St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto (USMC) hosted the launch event as part of their online seminar series, Celebrating Sisters in Higher Education.
Beginning at 2 p.m.:
- David Sylvester, President and Vice-Chancellor, USMC, opened the event with a welcome to all, a land acknowledgement expressing the need for right relations with Indigenous peoples, and a thank you to the Sisters for serving educational needs throughout Toronto's history.
- Sister Georgette Gregory, CSJ Congregational Leader, thanked everyone in attendance and introduced the authors of each essay.
- Elizabeth Smyth, Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, gave a short summary of the CSJ congregation's beginnings and summarized the work and dedication that the authors put into writing and researching during the pandemic.
- Alison More, Assistant Professor of Medieval Studies (USMC) spoke of how from the beginning, the Sisters were defined by doing the ordinary and necessary work to respond to the social needs of the world.
- Mark McGowan, Professor of History, University of Toronto and Interim Principal & Vice-President at USMC, highlighted the innovation and imagination of Sisters, describing them as creative and lifelong learners who were always becoming better teachers.
- MC Havey, Archivist (Sisters of Service) told the story of Sisters of Service in Alberta and how they and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto shared a mutual devotion to welcoming and serving immigrants and people in need.
- Elizabeth Smyth described the humble and impactful life of Mother Maura McGuire, a Toronto Sister who was lauded for her brilliant leadership in hospital administration and awarded the Order of Canada which she considered recognition for generations of women religious and not a personal honour.
- While Michael Attridge, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Theology (USMC) was not present, Elizabeth Smyth shared a portion of his essay in which he described the Sisters' lives as women religious after Vatican II.
- James Ginther, Professor of Medieval Theology, Faculty of Theology (USMC) offered a thought experiment on the future of theological education in Canada and how an education in theology would need to embrace truth and reconciliation, ecological action, and care for others.
- Leah Watkiss, Ministry Director (CSJ Ministry for Social Justice, Peace, and Creation Care) presented how social justice has always been at the heart of the Sisters' charism and ministries and their ability to hear and reach out to people in need even and especially when they might be overlooked.
At the end, Sister Mary Anne McCarthy, Assistant Congregational Leader (CSJ), thanked all the contributors. She also expressed her gratitude to David Sylvester and the team at St. Michael's College for hosting the launch and supporting the legacy of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto at St. Michael's College.