Reviving historical forms of religious life to meet today's needs

Sisters of St. Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania agrégées celebrate their vows. (Provided photo)

Some 360 years ago, when the first Sisters of St. Joseph organized in LePuy, France, another lesser-known group of women organized with them: the agrégées. Just how these "associated sisters" disappeared from common and institutional knowledge isn't clear. However, in the last two decades, agrégées have made a resurgence in some St. Joseph congregations in the United States.

According to Sister of St. Joseph Mary McGlone, author of an upcoming history of Sisters of St. Joseph in the U.S., from the very beginning, agrégées lived according to the rule of the Sisters of St. Joseph, but for various reasons were unable to live in community in LePuy. Broadly speaking, the modern iteration of the agrégée is someone, usually middle-aged or older, who has made a perpetual commitment to a Sister of St. Joseph community but who remains financially independent while making monetary contributions to the congregation.

For some, to hear the story of this revival is to hear a story of the Holy Spirit at work. At separate times — and independently of each other — the Sister of St. Joseph congregations in Concordia, Kansas; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Springfield, Massachusetts, dug into their history and found the agrégées. Each congregation then reimagined agrégées for the modern day, creating new membership models to foster their vision.

Read the full story at Global Sisters Report.

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