Mother Marie Joseph Butler
“Joy and cheerfulness are contagious, they work like magic in attracting hearts. Joy and happiness in the service of God are an absolute necessity.” (Mother Marie Joseph Butler, 1939)
Johanna Butler was born on July 22, 1860, in the Rower, County Kilkenny, Ireland. She entered the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary at the age of sixteen in Béziers, France. As a young religious she spent over twenty years ministering in community schools in Portugal. In 1903, she was sent to the United States.
Popularly known as Mother Butler, Mother Joseph was the foundress of Marymount School and College in Tarrytown, New York. Her conviction of the educational value of international experience led her to establish the first study abroad program through Marymount College. Mother Butler’s commitment to education was grounded in her belief that “the World never needed women’s intelligence and sympathy more than it does today.”
Mother Joseph served as vicar for the RSHM community in the United States. On August 26, 1926, she was elected General Superior. During her time of leadership new foundations were established in the United States, Brazil, France, Italy, Portugal, Great Britain, and Ireland, and the Institute was divided into provinces in 1938. She remained General Superior until her death on April 26, 1940.