As a coach maker’s daughter who learned carpentry at an early age, Mother Joseph prowled construction sites with a saw in her hand and a hammer dangling from her belt. She used her skills and talents to help build the first hospitals and schools in the Northwest.
Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick invited the Mercies to work with the French, Spanish, Irish and German immigrants along the Mississippi River. They were led by Mother Magdalene dePazzi Bentley.
Sister Frances Cabrini and seven other sisters arrived in New York in the spring of 1889 bearing a letter from Archbishop Michael Corrigan, who had invited them to come from Italy and start an orphanage in Manhattan.