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Who we are

The “Congregation of Saint Joseph” was born from the heart, rich with faith in God and sensitivity towards his needy neighbour, of Saint Leonard Murialdo (1828-1900), and was founded in Turin on March 19th, 1873, within the Collegio Artigianelli, of which Murialdo was rector. This institution had the purpose of caring for, educating upon the Christian values and training for manual work the poor, orphaned and abandoned boys.

Murialdo, in this educative background and animated by his previous apostolic experience with the boys of Turin suburbs, after a long discernment, begins the congregation with the precise aim, as the first rule of 1873 says, to be dedicated “to the Christian education of the poor, orphaned or abandoned youth or even just unruly”, that is, needy to be rescued from a morally inordinate life. Even though this was the primary aim, however the congregation can “come to the aid of adults belonging to the working class through instruction and preaching”.

In order to achieve this aim, again the first rule listed, as an example, some institutions, like boarding schools, orphanages, reformatories (juvenile prisons), agricultural schools,  oratories, and then “any other institution” without any limitation of kind.

Saint Joseph, the humble artisan of Nazareth and above all the exemplar educator of Jesus, was chosen as titular, patron and model of the congregation, whose members are clerics and lay brothers. From him the congregation must learn that pedagogy which finds its synthesis in the evangelic charity and that life style, made of personal and communitarian behaviours and attitudes, which are summed up in the characteristic virtues of humility and charity.

The congregation, which got the diocesan approval on February 24th, 1875, began its journey - not without some difficulties – of internal organization, mainly concerning the formation of the new members, and of clarification of its spiritual and apostolic identity, opening also to the formation of “civil condition” youth (well off youth). At first the congregation grew and spread in Piedmont, then in Veneto and later in the other regions of Italy.

To get the pontifical approval of the congregation, the definitive version of the Constitutions was prepared. The congregation was approved by the Apostolic See on June 17th, 1897 and the Constitutions on August 1st, 1904.

After the Founder’s death on March 30th, 1900, the congregation opens to the missions abroad (Libya, 1904), a prospective already present in the congregation’s first rule, and to the Latin American countries (Brazil, 1915).

Meanwhile the congregation deepened some aspects of its life, in particular of its spirituality and pedagogy, having as reference the writings of the Founder and especially his Spiritual Testament. In this document, expressly left to his spiritual sons, Murialdo exhorts them to find the source of their spiritual and apostolic life in God’s infinite, tender and merciful love, and make of it the object of their preaching.

On the base of the indications of the Second Vatican Council, the congregation, with the special chapter of 1969, went through its legislation and the “new” Constitutions, more enriched with the spirit of the congregation tradition, were approved by the Apostolic See on December 8th, 1983.

Today the congregation is called within the Church to live and testimony God’s merciful love through its commitment to the human and Christian promotion of the poor and abandoned youth, needing to be socially and morally formed.

The educative activity is carried on through manifold institutions depending on the nations where it works and the social and ecclesial situations in which it lives, as schools, vocational training centres, family homes, oratories, boarding schools, and missions. The parishes too, not comprised in the initial plan, became part of its apostolic activity by will of Pope St Pious X (1909). They however, being Josephan parishes, assume a specific characterization due to importance given to the youth pastoral.

The congregation, comprising around 600 members, is now working in four continents: in Europe (Italy, Spain, Albania, Romania), in Africa (Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau, Ghana), in America (Brazil, Ecuador, where there is also an apostolic vicariate in the mission of Napo, Argentine, Chile, United States, Colombia, Mexico), and in Asia (India).

With all the other ecclesial realities that are inspired by the congregation charisma and with the lay faithful participating in it, Murialdine Sisters of St Joseph, secular Institute St Leonard Murialdo, Lay people of Murialdo..., we formed the “Family of Murialdo”, in which the members, according to their specific vocation, live some spiritual and apostolic aspects of the congregation charisma, in the spirit of an ecclesiology of communion.

The emblem of the congregation is formed by the first letters of Iesus, Maria, Ioseph - IMI - inside an oval line surrounded by rays. It remembers the intimate union of the Holy Family of Nazareth.

The monogram identifying the congregation is “CSI” (Congregatio Sancti Ioseph), to which it is added “Josephites of Murialdo”.

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