Consolidation and expansion

Second Superior General, Josephine Petit

After Marie Madeleine’s death in 1858, Josephine Petit was elected Superior General. She died 30 years later, in January 1888, leaving a rich legacy to the Society. She had re-opened two houses in France, Bourges and Nantes, and set up five new houses in France, as well as eight in England, and one in Ireland. In the last decade of her life, she seemed to discover within herself a true missionary spirit, and had established a number of houses in Australia and Canada. She achieved this, in spite of lack of sufficient personnel, without denuding the communities in Europe.


1859: Bourges re-opened
1867: Reuil, near Paris
1871: Nantes re-opened
1875: Guérande, Brittany
1877: Veyrier, Haute Savoie
1884: Henriville, Amiens, Picardy

Upton Hall Convent Chapel about 1910 Source: Upton in the Hundred of Wirral

1861: Preston, Lancashire
1862: Upton Hall, Merseyside
1865: Exeter, Devonshire
1866: Skipton, Yorkshire
1872: Middlesbrough, Teesside
1880: Redcar, Teesside
1881: Poplar, East London
1884: West Hartlepool, County Durham


1861: Newtownbarry, Wexford


1882: Melbourne


1883: St Laurent
1883: Prince Albert
1883: Brandon, Manitoba
1885: Calgary
1888: Edmonton

The voyage of the pioneer sisters to Canada, 1883. Pictures sent by the travelers.

Third Superior General, Marie de Bussy

Marie de Bussy followed Joséphine Petit as Superior General, and in the six years of her leadership of the Society, 1881 – 1895, she brought to fruition projects foreseen and prepared for by her predecessor.  These included the opening of four houses, one in Scotland and three in Western Canada. Marie also played an important part in the burgeoning ministry of the FCJs in Melbourne, Australia: in her time, a large property was purchased in the district of Kew in 1889 and a fine new school building was commissioned from a distinguished architect.

Genazzano College, founded in 1889. The property in Kew was originally secured as an all-girls’ boarding school by the twelve founding Sisters who had set sail from England in 1882, to help meet the growing need for Catholic Education in Australia. Together with William Wardell, an eminent colonial architect, they oversaw the construction of the stunning Wardell Building in 1889, and in April 1891 the Sisters and their pupils took possession of their new College.

1889, Paisley, Scotland
1891: Lethbridge, Canada
1892: Rat-Portage, Canada
1894: Saskatchewan, Canada
1894: Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, USA

Fourth Superior General, Zoé Girod

When Marie de Bussy died in 1895, she was replaced by Zoe Girod. Like her predecessors, Zoé’s desire was to respond to the needs of the time, and to encourage and facilitate the growth of the Society in accordance with its traditions. The FCJs were steadily increasing in number and had a well established reputation for apostolic effectiveness. Their major apostolates, education in boarding-schools, parish day schools and evening classes for women, together with the work of retreats and attending to the needs of the poor in workhouses, were in constant demand. The sisters, in going to Australia and Canada, had begun to undertake the missionary journeys that had always been part of Marie Madeleine’s vision, and Zoé wanted this broadening of the Society’s horizons to continue. In her years as Superior General, in spite of her anxieties and preoccupations concerning the volatile political situation in France (which necessitated moving sisters from some of the French houses to Belgium and Switzerland), she was instrumental in furthering the expansion of the Society in different parts of the world. Zoé died in January 1914, a few months before the beginning of the Great War.

Sedgley Park Training College, Manchester, c. 1919

1896: Fitchburg, Massachusetts, USA
1901: Gilbertsville, Massachusetts, USA
1900: Benalla, Eastern Victoria, Australia
1902: Graty, Belgium
1903: Fribourg, Switzerland
1904: Brussels, Belgium
1904: Namur, Belgium
1904: Sedgley Park, Manchester, England
1908: Guernsey, Channel Islands
1909: Salzinnes, Belgium
1911: Hawthorn, Melbourne, Australia
1912: Cliftonville, Kent, England
1913: Broadstairs, Kent, England
1913: Jersey, Channel Islands
1910: Edmonton, Canada – St Anne’s

The grounds of the FCJ boarding school for girls at Bagatelle, Guernsey


Read more about the history of the Faithful Companions of Jesus in Europe, North America and Australia.