March 9, 2022

Saint Joseph at the heart of traditions in the Good Shepherd of Quebec

Every year, from March 10th to 19th, a novena to Saint Joseph is held in all houses of the Congregation. How did that tradition begin?

In 1850, the Foundress of the Good Shepherd ministry, Marie-Josephte Fitzbach who was devoted to the popular spirituality of her day, invoked Saint Joseph in all her material difficulties. That devotion spread rapidly to the entire Congregation, and the saint was called on frequently for protection, when resources were scarce, or to obtain the grace of a peaceful death. A novena was made once in a while and his feastday was celebrated on March 19th, but until 1904, he was not the object of a specific tradition in the Good Shepherd of Quebec.

In the Fall of 1904, a violent explosion occurred at the St. Joseph Laundry Facility, following a failed x-ray experiment made by Sister Marie-de-l’Immaculée-Conception with the help of Mr. Louis Saillant, an engineer at the Mother House. Thanks to his presence of mind and urgent invocation to Saint Joseph, everyone’s life was saved and there was no damage.

Filled with gratitude, Mr. Saillant resolved to make Saint Joseph the official protector of the house. He went to buy a statue of the saint and built a niche for it in the busiest part of the basement. The following March 10th, a Great Novena was begun at the very spot of the explosion. The novena ended on March 19th with a celebration of the feast of Saint Joseph.

With the years, the Great Novena became a tradition in the Good Shepherd of Quebec. And so, each year, Saint Joseph receives the hymns and prayers of the personnel in all the houses of the Congregation.

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Updated January 26, 2023.