Our Timeless Mission
When I visit the Sisters of St. Joseph chapel, walk the grounds, or participate in retreats or programs, I feel as though God is there with me.
This sentiment from a retreatant fills us with humility, joy, and hope. As women called to a life of profound union with God and with each other, we seek to be united to Jesus Christ in his love for God, for all people, and for all creation. Since 1650, the mission of Sisters of St. Joseph has been to serve God and the “dear neighbor” without distinction. For more than 350 years, we have responded to the most pressing needs of our times, whatever they might be.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden have served in schools, parishes and hospitals, and ministered as social workers, foster parents, chaplains, consultants, social justice advocates, spiritual directors, artists, counselors, and missionaries throughout the United States and beyond. More than 150 years after making Western Pennsylvania our home, we continue to serve the most vulnerable of God’s people.
The Urgent Needs of the ‘Dear Neighbor’
Our deep trust in God continues to inspire us to respond passionately and compassionately to the needs of today, advancing our good works in the following ministry areas:
- Nurturing spirituality as a means to foster human enrichment
- Caring for the environment
- Advocating for peace and justice
To identify the most urgent needs, we look to our Directional Statement and our five-year goals for guidance, and we rely on member consensus, which serves the common good, and continually moves us toward a perfect love of God and neighbor. Although our members may be aging, we are actively working to sustain our mission with individuals and organizations that share our values, and through new partnerships to engage the next generation.
Together, we focus on:
- Food insecurity
- Environmental sustainability
- Immigration reform
- Human trafficking
- Spiritual enrichment
We address these challenges through programs as varied as Earth Tones, an on-site ecological ministry that preserves our grounds, produces honey for all-natural products, raises egg-laying hens, and harvests produce to alleviate food insecurity in the county; Pets with Heart, which teams Sisters and therapy dogs to provide comfort to people of all ages; and Nuns and Nones, which brings together spiritually diverse young adults and Sisters for conversation.
Our historic Motherhouse and grounds (one of the largest privately owned green spaces in Beaver County) are beacons of hope for what is possible. Nestled in a beautiful natural setting, our Baden campus is home to our retired Sisters. It also provides a peaceful space for guests seeking renewal and a natural landscape for ecological ministries to flourish.
A Future Filled with Hope
From our spiritual and physical “heart” in Baden, we envision a flourishing hub of emerging programs that not only preserves this sacred space and cares holistically for our Sisters, but also advances the mission and values that we hold dearly and are compelled to animate with our neighbors locally as well as globally. We actively seek collaborative ways to serve God and the dear neighbor without distinction.
Be Part of Our Vision
Our zeal for advancing our mission far exceeds our financial resources, and we humbly recognize that realizing a future of hope means depending ever more on the financial, human, and prayerful resources of our partners in mission to help meet today’s major challenges. We are therefore energized by all of God’s people, young and old, who want to create a world of wholeness and holiness with us.
Our current ministry areas of Ecology, Spirituality, and Peace and Justice serve as a springboard for enriching humanity and radiating hope to a broken world. Through new programs and partnerships, we can reach more neighbors in need and carry God’s love into more neighborhoods. We fully believe that our Baden campus will continue to flourish as the heart and spirit of our community life and as the centerpiece of outreach to our many neighbors.
In this grace-filled moment in our history, we believe we are called to advance our mission with a lasting legacy in Baden where we are rooted spiritually and physically. Investing in our buildings and grounds and supporting new programs will profoundly impact not only the lives of our dear neighbors, but also the lives of our Sisters who call Baden “home.”
Our strength has never been in our numbers alone, but in the many co-apostles who choose to support our mission, vision and values. As one donor expressed, “The mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph is pure. The need is present. There is much more work out there to do than what the Sisters can accomplish alone.”
Your contribution to the Sisters of St. Joseph helps supports the Baden campus as a:
- Home for our Sisters and center of hospitality for our many guests;
- Place that supports multi-purpose, intergenerational and interfaith needs;
- Gathering place for all our neighbors;
- Incubator space for new programs that will address emerging needs in the community.
The Sisters of St. Joseph of Baden remain in the hearts of thousands of people whose lives we have shaped for more than 150 years. As we move forward, we are inspired by the joy, zeal, and humility of our pioneering sisters. We are equally inspired by you. Thank you.
“The most profound motive for our work is this knowing that we share in creation. Learning the meaning of creation in our daily lives will help us to live holier lives. It will fill the world with the spirit of Christ, the spirit of justice, charity, and peace.” -Pope John Paul II, 1981, Laborem Exercens.
The Sisters of St. Joseph Earth Tones Ministry is rooted in our direct participation in the sacrament of creation. As a congregation, we are committed to conserving resources; living in sustainable ways as demonstrated on our Baden grounds; and encouraging an understanding and awareness of God in nature. Your gift to the Caring for All Creation Fund is a tangible expression of your shared commitment to our values.
Earth Tones Ministry is committed to nourishing the bodies and souls of our dear neighbors and affirming their dignity. We directly address food insecurity in our region by providing fresh, organic, and nutritious produce to area food banks. We partner with several organizations in Beaver County and use our gardens and grounds to provide job training for at-risk teens and to adults with barriers to employment. We offer one of the largest privately owned green spaces (80 acres) in Beaver County to retreatants and visitors alike, inviting them to connect with God in nature. With its labyrinth, grotto, tree trails, community gardens, bees and chickens, our outdoor campus attracts hundreds of visitors each year. In all of these ways, we are invested in bringing our community together, all while stewarding creation – the earth, air, water, flora, and fauna that are integral to our physical and spiritual well-being.
Chickens for Change, Bees for Beauty and Gardens for Good
Chickens for Change
Hens have been part of the ecosystem on the Motherhouse grounds since 2014. Our flock of 16 hens provide fresh, nutrient and protein dense eggs which get donated to our food bank partners, and are also served to Sisters in our Motherhouse dining room. Each year, we donate nearly 100 dozen eggs which help reduce food insecurity to neighbors in need.
Bees for Beauty
In the tradition of the working farm and apiary that we operated on the grounds in the early 1900s, the Sisters reintroduced two beehives in 2005. Today, the number of hives has grown to 11, and during a good year, produce an average of 100 pounds of honey per hive! The honey is used in the dining room and sold in our Motherhouse gift shop and on-line. The remaining beeswax is used to make all-natural products, such as moisturizing cream, soap and lip balm. These items are also available on a limited basis in the gift shop and online.
Gardens for Good
Two 2,500-square-foot gardens, Miriam’s and Elizabeth’s Gardens, were created on the Motherhouse grounds and opened to seniors and lower-income county residents in another effort to address food insecurity in Beaver County. In the past three years, the gardens have donated more than 7,000 pounds of fresh produce to local food banks. Seventeen different individuals or family units from five boroughs or townships have tended garden beds.
Contributions to the Caring for All Creation Fund will help fund the purchase of tools, equipment and supplies needed to maintain our chickens, bees and community gardens. Because of you, we can maintain and preserve our cherished natural resources, practice and promote sustainable living, and pursue our commitment to reduce food insecurity among our dear neighbors.
Outdoor Classroom and Wash Station
The natural beauty and rich ecology of our Baden campus make it an ideal outdoor classroom. Earth Tones staff conducts outdoor educational programs as well as nature retreats throughout the warm weather months. Our staff also hosts a variety of groups who share our ecological values to care for and preserve Earth for future generations. Scouts, students, mission groups and others work on environmental projects, perform volunteer service such as trail and labyrinth maintenance, or organize other functions.
We seek donations to construct an outdoor pavilion and wash station so that visiting groups can attend on-site classes and programs and share meals together. The wash station will provide a sheltered space for community gardeners to clean their produce before donating to food banks.
With your help, we can bring more people together to learn about the environment and to act sustainably; to deepen their sense of community; to experience the Sisters’ hospitality; and to reflect on God’s presence in nature.
Green Teens Gardening Internship Program
In 2011, the Sisters began offering the Green Teen Gardening Internship program, an eight- week course designed to teach sustainable gardening skills and provide leadership training to two Beaver County high school or college students. Students are often referred by T.R.A.I.L.S. Ministry in Beaver Falls and typically include youth with particular challenges or barriers to employment. Training sessions will take place in our community gardens (Miriam’s and Elizabeth’s) where students learn about soil preparation, planting, watering, weeding, pest management, composting, harvesting, and other landscaping skills. Interns also will practice leadership skills by coordinating and overseeing groups of other teens who are on-site for community service projects. Lastly, the interns will help deliver fresh garden produce to soup kitchens and food banks, where they will witness food insecurity firsthand and see the positive impact that their efforts can have on others’ lives.
Funding is needed for meals, transportation, personal protective equipment (PPE), gardening supplies, and educational materials for two students annually.
Because of you, several young people each year will acquire life and work skills that can open doors to a better life than might otherwise be possible; develop a love of gardening and reverence for the Earth; and become attuned to God’s presence in nature.
Volunteer Work Days
Our Earth Tones Ministry staff is small, so we’re blessed to have a large number of dedicated volunteers to help maintain our 80-plus acres, especially during the growing season. Our volunteers are indispensable to our Eco Ministry. Without them, we would have to devote most of our time to routine grounds and garden maintenance, and much less time to educational and community outreach to which we are deeply committed. Out of respect and gratitude for our volunteers, we need to equip them with the tools to do their work and to recognize them for their labors of love.
By helping to fund equipment, supplies, and an annual volunteer recognition event, you can help deepen our relationship with our volunteers so that we have a far greater capacity to serve the dear neighbor than would otherwise be possible.
Animated by our love of God and the dear neighbor, our spirituality is at the core of who we are and what we do as Sisters of St. Joseph. We are humbled that others often turn to us when they seek to enrich or nurture their own spirituality. With your gift to the Enriching the Spirit Fund, our St. Joseph Spirituality Center can expand programming to meet the increasing and evolving needs of individuals of all ages.
Since 1997, the Spirituality Center has welcomed thousands of participants, from youth through elders, who are seeking spiritual nourishment or professional development through programs, retreats, and workshops. In recent years, we have broadened the scope of our programming in response to young adults who urgently long for a welcoming place to share their values and discover their life’s purpose. Against a backdrop of division in our world, we have invited others to join us for monthly Prayers for Healing. We also envision more family-friendly events that advance our values relating to the environment and social justice.
With your support to the Enriching the Spirit Fund, we can tailor our programs to meet the most urgent needs of our time and continue to advance our mission to serve God and the dear neighbor without distinction in a number of ways:
Ignatian Retreat Programs
Our Spirituality Center hosts a series of retreats of varying lengths and designs based on Ignatian Spirituality, which helps women and men deepen their relationship with God in the chaos and complexity of their everyday lives and discover their spiritual identity and purpose as people of faith. This spirituality is founded on the experiences of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order. His Spiritual Exercises provide meditations, prayers, Sacred Scripture, and methods for making choices for one’s life according to God’s loving will.
Your support of our Ignatian retreat program helps us meet increasing costs associated with program development, materials and promotions; stipends and fees for guest presenters; and scholarships for individuals with limited means. By sponsoring our Ignatian retreat programs, you help us expand our spiritual outreach to many who seek meaning in their lives and comfort in prayerful surroundings.
None of God’s children is immune to alcoholism and drug addiction, and since addictive disease is complex, the chances for recovery are most promising when the healing process involves the body, mind and spirit. We are graced with compassion and loving attention for others, and believe that our mission calls us to journey alongside people in recovery. In the coming year, we plan to host a series of AA recovery retreats for women, and to add men’s retreats in the following year.
Your donation in support of our recovery retreats will directly cover the costs of guest directors and program materials. However, the real beneficiaries of your support will be the women, and in time, the men, who will regain their lives and their dignity, and the chance to mend relationships that were once broken.
Fine Art Retreats
The arts are a profound way to explore one’s spirituality as we can attest. Whether teaching arts in the classroom or serving in an arts ministry, we have developed and shared a deep appreciation for the beauty and inspiration of art. Many of our Sisters’ original artwork graces greeting cards and adorns walls inside and outside the Motherhouse. In this tradition, our Fine Arts Retreats will explore St. Ignatius’ approach to prayer and study of the Scriptures through “the use of the active imagination.” Taking on a character from the Gospel, retreatants would imagine how others would think, feel and act or interact with Jesus, and reflect upon that experience.
We ask for your support to establish an onsite functional art studio, including the necessary complementary equipment and materials; and to provide stipends to attract visiting artists and presenters. With your gift, you will help inspire others to enliven their faith through creativity and imagination.
Young Adult Retreats
We are committed to guiding a generation of young people who share our values and passion for all of God’s Creation. In these troubling times, many young people have expressed feelings of being “unmoored” or “scattered.” Through retreats and programs, we can offer young adults space and freedom with their peers for prayer and conversation and help them find their way to peace and purpose. With your financial support of retreats, you can help defray programming, transportation, and meal costs for young adults with limited budgets.
Chapel Organ and Piano
In celebration of God’s faithfulness and love, we share the gift of music with each other and with our dear neighbors. This source of joy has profoundly influenced our ministries where we taught voice and piano lessons in elementary and secondary schools, composed liturgical music, and pioneered music therapy for university students. Today, we raise our voices with a community-based Unity Choir, uniting neighbor to neighbor and neighbor to God.
The Chapel in the Motherhouse is central to our spiritual life, and provides a welcoming place for our many neighbors who join us in prayer and song at Sunday Mass. Our current chapel organ is antiquated and beyond repair, but by donating to the Enriching the Spirit Fund, you can restore the resonating sounds of this extraordinary instrument and make Mass a deeper spiritual experience.
We also hope to replace our upright piano with a baby or mid-sized grand piano which would be better suited acoustically for its extensive use during weekly and special Masses and a variety of celebrations throughout the year. Our piano provides musical accompaniment to our choir and instrumental ensemble. By contributing to the purchase of a new piano, you will ensure that the spirits of all who attend events in our chapel will be uplifted by the music of our faith as it was meant to sound.
Through action, education and prayer, the Justice and Peace Office offers a concrete, explicit expression of the Congregation’s Directional Statement: to live non-violently, to work to transform structures that promote violence; to affirm the dignity of persons and to be attuned to how all of creation lives and moves and has its being in God. Your gift to the Justice and Peace Fund not only supports our vital and urgent work in a divisive world, but also ensures the causes that you care most about become part of a larger collective voice for peace and justice. We are visible on many public fronts in Western Pennsylvania especially focusing on, but not limited to:
- addressing racism and white privilege
- working to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against immigrants
- furthering sustainability and tending to our ecological system which has been increasingly damaged as a result of climate change and pollution/contamination
- working to end human trafficking through education and awareness.
In addition to advancing the Catholic values of human dignity and care for creation, our Sisters never lose sight of individuals who are impacted by social injustice. Our Neighbors in Need program is a small, but important component of our Justice and Peace Ministry, because it provides a responsible way for us to share our own resources with our dear neighbors who are suffering hardships due to unique circumstances.
Your gift to the Peace and Justice Fund is an investment in our Sisters’ ongoing education in the areas of current and emerging social justice issues and in advocacy initiatives such as workshops and outreach efforts. Through these efforts, our Sisters carry the Gospel message of social justice values to our neighbors, corporate leaders and government decision-makers. Your gift also will make a difference in the lives of our dear Neighbors in Need.