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On May 26, 1870 the first seven Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet arrived in Arizona after an arduous 36-day journey on board of a modest wagon, marking the beginning of our rich heritage of 150 years of presence and service in Arizona.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet were founded in Le Puy, France in 1650. In 1836, responding to the request of Bishop Rosati, six Sisters of St. Joseph crossed the Atlantic Ocean, reached St. Louis, MO and settled in Carondelet, a village near St. Louis. This was the beginning of the American foundation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

In 1870, at the request of the Bishop of Tucson, John B. Salpointe, seven of the Sisters began a 36- day exhausting and dangerous journey from Missouri to Arizona. They travelled on a circuitous route that took them from St. Louis to San Francisco by rail; then, to San Diego on board of an ocean steamer. Next, they traveled from San Diego to Tucson, through the desert, in a covered horse wagon with a driver. They went through mountain passes and sand dunes of Yuma, to the Colorado River which they crossed on a raft into Arizona.  They followed the Gila River as far as the ruins of Casa Grande; then, they turned south toward Tucson.

On the evening of Ascension Thursday, May 26, 1870, the Sisters were welcomed into Tucson with cheers and fireworks. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet thus became the first pioneer group of religious women in this territory.

Who were these courageous women who risked their lives to go minister to the unknown West of the United States?

Click on their names to watch a video profile of each sister on the Trek of the Seven