Our Parish History: The First Convent

This is the seventh article in a series.  Here are the links for the first six parts:

Our Founding: June 12, 1953
The First Parish Meeting
Our First Christmas
The First Rectory, Part I
The First Rectory, Part II
Ground Breaking!

The teachers in the new Saint Joseph Parish had first arrived from Saint Helena Parish on Wednesday, July 7, 1954.  The two teachers were Sisters of Saint Joseph, Sister Gertrude and Sister Marie Joseph, who came to teach catechism in the new parish.  Their first class of catechism was made up of six children.  These two Sisters were the first of a large number who would work with the parish priests to bring alive in the hearts of the children the mystery of Jesus Christ.

First Convent

First Convent – 7628 Waters Road.

Even before the first two Sisters arrived however, Saint Joseph’s Founding Pastor, Rev. Francis J. Hennegan had begun plans for a convent.  In April 1954, Father Hennegan negotiated to buy a new private home at 7628 Waters Road for a convent.  Three sisters were assigned to the convent and they opened the convent on Saturday, August 28, 1954.  A room on the second floor served as a temporary chapel.  The first Mass was celebrated in the improvised chapel on November 1, 1954 and through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Lynch, a monstrance was presented to the sisters for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

First SSJ Sisters

The First Sisters of Saint Joseph at our Parish – from left to right: Sister Silvanus, Sister Ann, Sister Miriam Carmel, Sister Hildegarde, Sister Angeline and Sister Helen Edward

With the opening of school in September 1954, two grades were housed in the convent.  During this first school year, the children’s Sunday Masses were celebrated in Saint Helena’s school auditorium.

Excerpts from the Saint Joseph Church, Cheltenham, Silver Jubilee Memorial Book
(written in 1978 by Rev. John B. DeMayo)

Next week: The Church and School