Paths of Daring Deeds of Hope


Theresa in Monroe: Redemptorists Withdrawn

The relative peace of the first decade of IHM was disrupted with the announcement by the Redemptorists that they were leaving the diocese in May 1855. Bishop Lefevere was extremely unhappy about the decision, refusing to credit the Redemptorist's explanation that finances and the need for more cohesive community life made their withdrawal unavoidable. The Bishop appealed to the Holy See to require the Redemptorists to stay, an appeal that was not resolved for several years. Meanwhile, Bishop Lefevere determined to eradicate all Redemptorist influence from the IHM Congregation.

This policy was most disturbing for Theresa, whose commitment to the Redemptorist tradition was intense. Her spirituality had been developed under Redemptorist guidance and the Redemptorist priests had been her consistent and loyal advisors in the growth of the IHM Congregation. She became eager to regain the Redemptorist influence, even if that meant identifying another location for the Congregation's activities. Her response led both to the establishment of IHM missions in Pennsylvania and to the eventual rupture of the original Congregation.

After the departure of the Redemptorists, Bishop Lefevere appointed diocesan priests to direct the IHM Congregation. The second was Reverend Edward Joos, who remained director of the Congregation for forty-four years. His appointment was announced in a letter dated November 5, 1857. It ought to be noted that Father Joos was appointed superior as well as Director of the IHM Congregation, a departure from the Redemptorist rule that particularly rankled Theresa as co-founder of the Congregation. Gradually Fr. Joos assumed the duties and rights of the Superior although she was also designated Superior, if only in name.

Appointment of Father Edward Joos

Detroit Nov. 5th, 1857

Dear Mother Therese

I take pleasure in informing you and all your Sisters, that after mature reflection and invocation of the Holy Ghost, I have found it expedient for the interest of your Community, that, under present circumstances, some change be made in the Directorship of the Convent. And therefore, I have nominated and constituted the Rev. Edward Joos, Superior and Director of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in the Diocese of Detroit. The Rev. Joos is truly a man of God, has great experience, and is endowed with all the qualification that could be desired for the important office to which he is appointed. You will therefore receive and acknowledge him as your Superior. He is invested with all the faculties requisite for the direction of the Sisters; and I trust that all the Sisters will at all and on all occasions show all the confidence, respect and obedience which are due him as to their spiritual Father and Director.

I have the honor to remain
Your most humble servant,
Peter, Paul, Bp. Zel.
C. of D.

About Father Joos's Appointment

From Thou, Lord, Art My Hope

... Not locating a native American whom he [Bishop Lefevre] judged capable ..., he decided on one of his countrymen whom he had received into his diocese little more than a year earlier; Reverend Edward Joos, assistant at St. Anne's, Detroit, was a mere nine years ordained, thirty-two years of age and only a year in America. His only experience with religious life was the fact that he had attended a Franciscan school in Belgium preparatory to his entrance to the seminary. Bishop Lefevre, accordingly, undertook to instruct him in the principles of religious life. The Bishop had been a novice in the Congregation of the Mission in Paris but seems never to have made Holy Vows. Sister Rosalita quotes of the situation:

...While he was a novice ... he had become conversant with the administrational organization of the Daughters of Charity which provides that their superior shall always be a priest of the Congregation of the Mission. Belgium, the birthplace of both Bishop Lefevre and Father Joos had more than one institute of women with that type of organization. But, whatever the Bishop's thought or motive, certainly his act in placing an utter stranger -- a foreigner -- over a body of American women, was ill-advised, as was evident from the unrest and unhappiness that followed.

.... [This] was a definite turning point in the history of the Congregation. Mother Theresa and her Sisters prudently made no comments, but there was a growing resentment in their hearts at the Bishop's high-handed impostition of the Rules and regulations of the Congregation of the Mission upon the spiritual principles of St. Alphonsus of which the Redemptorist Fathers had given them so strong and secure a foundation....

Despite outward appearances, however, life in the Congregation was not so unchanged as Father Joos considered it; little by little, he assumed the privileges of Superior, presiding at the Chapter of Faults, scrutinizing (though not yet censoring) all outgoing and incoming mail, demanding the right to give or withhold all permissions, supervising the accounts, examining the convent premises, etc., etc. All these matters were interpreted by the Sisters as intrusions, with the result that restlessness and discontent soon became evident among them.