Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and animated by the vision of Catherine McAuley, is a Catholic college in the liberal arts tradition distinguished by its welcoming community. We foster an ongoing dialogue between faith and reason so as to prepare our learners to live meaningful lives that improve the world around them.
In fulfillment of its mission, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine will be a diverse, inclusive, and collaborative community that forms individuals who practice humility, justice, and compassion, as Jesus did, in solidarity with the marginalized.
The values of the College, rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ and in the heritage of the Sisters of Mercy, are the foundation for the College’s educational mission. Taken to heart, these values exist at our very core; they are made visible in our daily interactions. Through a process of discernment based on dialogue and reflection, we designate the following as the Core Values for our College.
Rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church, nevertheless, we respect diverse religious traditions and honor each individual’s religious beliefs. Through the curriculum, sacramental opportunities, and co-curricular activities, we invite all members of the College community to develop their faith as an essential dimension of their lives.
As a Catholic liberal arts college, we seek to combine faith with reason in the pursuit of academic excellence. We call all members of the College community to excel as individuals and as professionals within their specific roles.
Concerned for the common good as individuals and as a community, we commit ourselves to honesty in all relations with students, faculty, staff and administration. Through our integrity, we maintain the trust of the surrounding community and of public and governmental agencies.
Informed by the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy, we demonstrate our spirit of connectedness with one another through our expressions of hospitality, courtesy, inclusive relationships, shared values, and collaboration. We extend this value of community by reaching out to neighbors and to members of the broader civic and ecclesial communities.
Mindful of the achievements of the past, we value and respect the contribution of each member of the Saint Joseph’s College community to the advancement of our mission. We encourage and support each other as colleagues working together for the good of the whole institution.
Inspired by the example of Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, we open our hearts to those among us in physical, psychological, or spiritual need. We consciously reach out beyond our college boundaries to serve the needs of others with compassion and mercy.
Recognizing the dignity of all persons, we seek to address instances of injustice both within and outside our College community from a stance of informed advocacy. We hold ourselves accountable to each other and endeavor to practice responsible stewardship of the resources available to us.
Saint Joseph’s College is a Catholic college founded by the Sisters of Mercy in Portland, Maine, in 1912. The 474-acre campus, now on the shore of Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine, is in view of Mount Washington and the White Mountains.
The word Sebago comes from the Abenaki sobagoo for "it is the sea" or "it resembles the sea.” The Pequawket peoples (members of the Abenaki nation) once fished and hunted along its shores, descendants of colonial settlers (including some associated with George Washington) established homesteads here, and the Verrill Family eventually built an estate here. When Sisters Mary Edwina and Mary Evangelist visited the estate in 1956, the stained glass windows of St. Edward the Confessor and Sr. John the Evangelist in the family chapel convinced them that this was the site for a new campus. And so, Saint Joseph’s was moved from Portland to Standish.
These words of Governor Joseph Brennan in 1981 capture the enduring legacy of the Sisters of Mercy in Maine. Under very challenging circumstances, six Sisters, under the leadership of Sister Mary Gonzaga O'Brien, arrived in Bangor, Maine, in 1865. Since then they have served in locations throughout the state. Their work has included education, healthcare, homes for elderly, orphanages, home visits to the sick, babysitting, and growing and harvesting produce. They have been beloved wherever they served. As The Benedicta Parish Bulletin of 1 May 1977 records, "There is not a single person or family who has not benefited from their presence among us."
Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstances, the Sisters have gradually withdrawn from all but two of their ministries in Maine: Saint Joseph's College and Mercy Hospital in Portland. They are the only remaining organizations sponsored by the Sisters in the state and, therefore, the inheritors of their legacy here. Saint Joseph's College's motto is fortitudo et spes: "courage and hope." It reflects and draws inspiration from the work of the Sisters of Mercy in Maine, continuing their commitment to identifying and serving the needs of surrounding communities and beyond.
“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.”
The Catholic Church has fostered a 2,000-year-old conversation between faith and reason (the Catholic intellectual tradition) which has welcomed a variety of perspectives that have inspired great artists, thinkers, and scientists. As a College in this tradition, Saint Joseph’s provides opportunities where students are encouraged to learn with wonder and reverence for something larger than themselves, including who they are called to be.
As a Catholic institution of higher learning in the Mercy tradition, Saint Joseph’s College is shaped by this intellectual heritage. As such, because we are Catholic:
We invite everyone to understand the Catholic faith as a tradition that embraces unity and diversity as well as the integration of faith and reason in the pursuit of truth and that this pursuit benefits from the insights of persons from varied backgrounds.
We cultivate opportunities to explore or strengthen one's relationship with God, self, others, and the world through worship, spiritual formation, service to others, and retreats rooted in the depth and richness of the Catholic tradition.
We welcome each person’s unique gifts and worldviews that contribute to the collaborative search for truth which is at its heart of an education at a Catholic college.
We nurture a setting for relationships to develop which contribute to the flourishing of each person and the Saint Joseph’s community.
We provide a rigorous academic environment where students are free to explore questions of meaning and how their learning can contribute to a more just society.
- We prepare students to discern how their post-college professions can act as a calling that provides personal fulfillment and opportunities to serve the common good.
In 1827 Catherine McAuley set in motion a ministry that served the marginalized in Dublin, Ireland, with a focus on education, protecting vulnerable women, and tending to the sick. The effect of her and her compatriots’ work resulted in a Catholic religious order whose impact would soon spread throughout the world: the Sisters of Mercy. Saint Joseph’s College is a manifestation of that work to the citizens of Maine and beyond. Catherine began her work as a lay person, and with the decline in Sisters at many Mercy institutions like Saint Joseph’s, the work of Mercy is being entrusted back to lay people. That is, the work of Mercy is now the work of everyone at Saint Joseph's College. While each person contributes to the Mercy Way at Saint Joseph’s in distinctive ways, the following principles guide our work together as a Mercy community.
- A commitment to the mission and core values of Saint Joseph’s College, as well as to the heritage and ongoing work of the Sisters of Mercy, that pervades and animates our institutional culture and identity.
- A holistic and innovative focus on learning--mind, body, spirit, and community--that inspires everyone to behold reality with wonder and meaning, to seek hope for the future, and to use their knowledge and skills in service of others with a special concern for the most vulnerable and marginalized in our society.
- Working together in a manner that invites creativity, a diversity of perspectives, mutual respect, and participation in a vibrant community.
- Welcoming every person as a gift entrusted to us by God, especially our neighbors near and far, in a manner that deepens community relationships and encourages respect for human dignity.
Action & Contemplation
- Translating compassion into action with opportunities for reflection on how they shape our work together and serve the common good through moral and creative leadership.
→ Saint Joseph’s College commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
→ Saint Joseph’s College celebrates our LGBTQ+ community