Sisters of St.Joseph of Cluny were called by God to follow in the footsteps of Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey who set sail in 1822 as a missionary for West Africa. This remarkable French woman was born in Burgundy in 1779 and grew up in the grip of the French Revolution. She had to live her faith in very difficult circumstances, in a time of persecution of the church - risking her life to shelter priests, to teach catechism and to prepare children for the sacraments. Blessed Anne Marie founded her Congregation under the patronage of St.Joseph in 1807. The first novitiate was opened in 1812 in Cluny, Burgundy - hence the name
"St.Joseph of Cluny". Her aim was to care for orphans and educate children. Beginning in Europe, then spreading to other continents, the Sisters took their mission to indigenous peoples.
In 1817 she sent the first missionary Sisters to the Island of Reunion, in the Indian Ocean, where they established themselves. Then, in 1819, her siste, Mother Rosalie, left for Senegal, West Africa. In 1822 a group of Sisters went to Guadelope - French West Indies. A further convent was founded in Martinique, an island in the Caribbean, in 1823. Other houses were established in St.Pierre and Miquelon, Canada, in 1826 and Pondicherry, India in 1827. When the Sisters arrived in the Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific in 1847 they were not allowed to land at Hov-a-Oa because of the cannibalistic tendencies of the indigenous people. Consequently, the captain was obliged to change course and sail for Tahiti in the South Sea Islands some 1,400 km. away where a foundation had been made in 1844. This wide expansion took place in the space of forty years. Before her death in 1851 the enthusiastic Foundress witnessed the participation of the Congregation in the growth of the Church in all five continents, as she had desired.