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Scripture does not mention either St. Anne or St. Joachim, but early tradition gives these names to the parents of the Blessed Mother, and thus to the grandparents of Jesus. As devotion to Our Lady grew in the Middle Ages, devotion to St. Anne grew as well.  The Hebrew form of her name is “Hannah,” so legends arose that parallel the Biblical birth of Samuel (1 Samuel) whose mother’s name was Hannah.

The Fathers of the Church did not endorse these stories at all. However, Jesus did indeed have a grandmother who deserves our respect for the way she raised Our Lady.  St. Anne remains the beloved patron saint of grandmothers everywhere.



The Sisteers of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis began to minister in the Diocese of Cleveland in 1908 at St. Hyacinth Parish. They came fulfilling the immediate purpose for which they were founded in Stevens Point, Wisconsin in 1901, that is, serving as teachers in the rapidly expanding Polish parishes, centers of Americanization for the continuous flow of immigrants. In 1909, the sisters were teaching in three other parishes in the diocese; by 1954, they were established in fourteen of them.


St. Anne with Mary

Carved wood with polychrome finish

After World War I, when laws slowed immigration and parishes became stabilized, their need was for more professional educators for the later generations of Polish-Americans. Sisters earned college degrees enabling them as teachers, principals, and supervisors to develop enriched accredited elementary and high school programs and to teach in the Sisters'/St. John's College.


In 1926, St. Joseph Convent and Academy was established in Garfield Heights as a Provincial Home and girls high school. High schools were added in two parishes in 1929 and 1945. In 1939, St. Joseph Academy was renamed Marymount High School.  In 1957, it transferred to the new building on the convent grounds, becoming co-ed Trinity High School in 1973. The building was expanded considerably during the administration of Sister Catherine Britton, principal from 1969 to 1996.    

Aware of the need presented by area residents and doctors, in 1948-1949 the Community added Marymount Hospital to the convent complex. The 125-bed hospital expanded rapidly to accommodate new services: psychiatric, alcoholic and coronary care wards; schools for medical record technicians, paramedics, licensed practical nurses, cardiac technicians; a mental health center; medical/surgical internship and residency programs; a certified nurse practitioner program. Notably, Sister Camille Guzman served in Marymount Hospital from 1956-1981, the last fifteen years as administrator. In 1996, while retaining its Catholic non-profit identity, the hospital merged with Cleveland Clinic.


In 1974, Sister Francis Therese Woznicki and Sister Charles Szczecinski founded Koinonia Homes, Inc., the parent organization for a series of group homes sheltering handicapped persons. From 1974 to 1986 Sister Charles administered Koinonia Homes and concurrently administered LEANS Home which provided family living for eight handicapped women.

Following the Second Council of the Vatican (1962-65), more lay people became available to teach in the schools, releasing some sisters to respond to other unmet needs. With the renewal of religious life, all the sisters are invited to participate in determining their contemporary call to service, in evaluating the potential of the membership, and in choosing a fitting response. As a result, sisters are now engaged in a variety of works in the diocese, such as: pastoral minister, director of religious education, hospice nurse, family counselor, parish home visitor, rectory cook, resource person for senior citizens, and other services - all in accord with the Mission Statement which calls us to strive for a more just world, drawing all to a fuller and freer life.

Throughout the years, the Convent building in Garfield Heights has been open to serve needs within the diocese: 1926-57, an academy for girls; 1969-82, a rehabilitation program for mentally handicapped persons; 1990-present a child care and pre-school program under the direction of Sister Felicia Mann; and since 1996 the Franciscan Center, a Franciscan resource program for Gospel centered spirituality, prayer, and ministry, coordinated by Sister Francis Therese Woznicki and Sister Jean Ehasz.

The Community experiences the Diocese of Cleveland as alive and well, and striving to grow and evangelize. The Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis will continue to cooperate in responding to unmet needs in the diocese. Meanwhile, the infirm sisters in Marymount Congregational Home offer a ministry of suffering and prayer for blessings on the community and the diocese.


Provided by Sister Josephine Marie Peplinski, SSJ-TOSF Historian 

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