Note: In 1995 the sisters of Charity of Ottawa celebrated
their Sesquicentennial. In Lowell, the event
was celebrated on May 21st of that year.. For
the occasion Marguerite B. Lyons, ACSCO, abridged and compiled a
history of the order that appeared in the souvenir program.
It is from this text that we extracted the following information, which has
since been edited and up-dated with the assistance of Sr. Pauline Leblanc, s.c.o..]
The long and beautiful history of the Grey Nuns of the Cross in Lowell, Massachusetts, began in
1880, when Mother Josephine Phelan, responding to a request from Rev. James McGrath,
O.M.I., send two French-speaking and four English-speaking nuns to the Immaculate
Conception Parish to staff its parochial school.
In 1883, at the request of Fr. Garin, O.M.I., pastor of St. Josephs Parish,
Sisters came to Lowell to meet the needs of the many Canadian families that arrived in
his parish. St. Josephs Convent
and School were opened that year and served there until 1980. the first superior was Sr. Plante. Sister St. Leontine and Sister St. Lucien taught
first and second grade boys in two small classrooms in a brick structure, known as
la petite école in the shadow of St.
Jean Baptiste Church.
Ste. Jeanne dArc School opened in 1910, as an extension of St. Joseph School before Ste. Jeanne dArc Parish was formally
established. In 1929, at the request of the
Oblate Fathers in Lowell, the sisters who had been teaching for many years at Ste.
Jeanne dArc School to which they traveled every day from St. Josephs
convent, finally moved into their own convent on upper Moody Street (now University Avenue). This school is still a vibrant education community
to this day.
The Grey Nuns of the Cross at St. Joseph Convent also taught at Notre Dame de
Lourdes School in the Highland section of Lowell. From 1909 until
1913, when they were given their own convent, the Sisters had to travel back and forth to St. Josephs
Convent. Notre Dame de Lourdes Convent and
school in Lowell opened in 1913 and remained open until 1977.
In 1928 at the request of the late Rev. Louis G. Bachand, then pastor of St. Jean
Baptiste Parish, the Grey Nuns of the Cross opened St.
School for Girls on the upper floor of the
Need for larger quarters made it imperative to move to a private two-story home on Pawtucket Street. It became the quarters for the high school, which
later moved to the former residence of the Marist Brothers, corner of Moody and Pawtucket
Streets. In 1990, St. Joseph High School merged
with St. Louis Academy and Keith Catholic to henceforth be known as Lowell Catholic High School.
In 1930, the Grey Nuns of the Cross added another great undertaking to the many
they already had assumed in the realm of education in Lowell. This time in answer to another request from Father
Bachand, the congregation agreed to take over the administration of Lowells old and
antiquated Corporation Hospital.
In 1944 the community purchased the Allen-Logan mansion on Rolfe Street, Lowell, and in August,
1945 the Franco-American postulancy program got underway with the admission of six
postulants. The property was from then on
known as Mount. St. Joseph.
In 1950, the general organization of the Congregation grouped its seven houses in
the United States into one province giving it the name of St. Joseph. The first provincial house was at 57 Rolfe Street where
a few elderly Sisters, postulants and novices lived until 1957, when an expansion program
in favor of the Lowell Teachers College forced the Sisters to move to Fairmount Street. Due to lack of space because of the increasing
number of postulants, it had to be moved once again. This
time they moved the Novitiate to Framingham.
When Sister St. Alphonse Rodriquez, administrator of St. Joseph Hospital from the
beginning, returned to Ottawa in 1956, she was succeeded as administrator of the hospital by
Sister St. Celestine, who continued the modernization program.
A Lowell graduate of the hospitals school of nursing, namely,
Sister Yvette Thibaudeau assumed the responsibilities of its administration in 1964. She remained at the helm of its activities and
undertakings until 1989. In 1992, the two
Catholic Hospitals in Lowell, St. Johns and St. Josephs, merged under the new name of Saints Memorial Medical
In 1959 Mother Saint-André-Corsini gave Lowell one of its most sorely needed establishments, namely a home for
its aging and elderly population. Fulfillment
of this response to a pressing need was achieved in May, 1960, when Richard Cardinal
Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, blessed dYouville Manor on Varnum Avenue. This ultra modern facility in the realm of health
care for the elderly has been a tremendous blessing for the population of Lowell and its
In 1964, three wings were added to the manor complex.
One became the Provincial House, the larger part of which is St. Josephs
Residence for retired Sisters who have their own private chapel and all the special
accommodations required for their needs.
In 1965, expansion at St. Josephs Hospital made it imperative for the Sisters there to
give up their convent quarters. The Hospital
bought the old stone structure formerly known as the Ayer home for orphans, directly
across the street from the hospital.
In 1966, the sisters entered their new home, most appropriately named,
Bachand Hall, in tribute to the late Father Louis G. Bachand, O.M.I. founder
and first president of the Corporation of St. Joseph Hospital.
Since 2005, Bachand Hall is
now home to seven Sisters and twelve young women students in partnership
with the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.
Sister Cécile Paradis, Provincial, (1982-1988) opened Emmaus House on upper Fletcher Street where
working women and students shared living space with the sisters. Emmaus House was converted into the Provincial
House in 2001.
For more information on this order, please contact: