The Sisters of the Society of the Divine Vocations more
commonly referred to as The Vocationist Sisters, is a
Congregation of Catholic Sisters founded by Fr. Justin
Russolillo in the year 1921.
The Vocationist Sisters
presently serve God’s people in Italy, France, Brazil,
Argentina, United States, the Philippines, India, Nigeria,
Their field of work is apostolate in the
parishes, schools and missions aimed at identifying and
guiding young people who seem to show signs of divine call
to consecrated life.
Vocationist Sisters take the simple vows of poverty,
chastity and obedience. They believe in and practice a
strong and steady community life and wear a religious habit.
The Vocationist Sisters live in communities and their house
of formation in the USA is located at 88 Brooklake Road,
Florham Park, NJ 07932
The Formation House is a Religious House where the
candidates who would like to become religious sisters are
guided and encouraged in a spirit of prayer, free of charge.
There, the candidates study, pray and discern first of all
the authenticity of their calling, under the guidance of the
Vocationist Sisters, and as they progress in their spiritual
life they absorb the basic principles of religious life and
learn the beauty of a consecrated life spent for God and His
In all the activities, a Vocationist Sister, following the
Venerable Fr. Justin’s advice to those who wish to assure
success to their apostolic endeavors, urges everyone to
receive frequently the Sacraments of Penance and of the Holy
Eucharist. She is aware that only through the Sacraments,
hearts are renewed and human minds are opened to God’s will.
Mother Maria Giovanna Russolillo
Born in Pianura (Naples) on June 22, 1895, the Rev. Mother
Maria Giovanna Russolillo was the fifth of 10 children makes
up the numerous family of the husband and wife, Luigi
Russolillo and Giuseppina Simpatia.
Baptized two days after her birth, flourish under the loving
and vigil watch of her parents. In six years she made her
first Communion, and when seven receive the sacrament of
From six to 12 years, Giovanna frequently went to elementary
classes that existed in Pianura, alternating, the study,
with the humble service of doing domestic housework.
Therefore she was always near to her brother Giustino in
every apostolate initiative.
Simply not having still clear the sight of the future
vocation to the religious state, it is given back as a
docile instrument of the follower of the divine Will, with
the youthful enthusiasm, to all the pious initiatives of her
brother – much later parish priest of Pianura – given a hand
in developing the parish. It flourishes already in this
parish, around little Rachele Marrone, a crowd of youth
aspiring to the religious life. Together with these -
and to other youth that they are indebted to, with them, the
first sisters of the future Congregation – Giovanna with
share with her brother Justin, the work of the apostolate,
renouncing and sacrificing themselves to support the
priestly vocations – the first gems of the demanded risings
of the masculine work.
In 1922, Giovanna felt called to the Religious life and so
courageously returned to school in order to continue her
studies. Even though she was must older than her schoolmates
did not deter her from her goal.
In 1924, after the idea of founding a new Congregation had
already matured in Father Justin’s mind, Giovanna decided to
follow her vocation and help materialize her brother’s
dream. Thus, she together with the other aspirants who were
cultivating religious ideals under the leadership of Rachele
Marrone started taking courses in pre-school education.
These additional studies were aimed at preparing them to
better serve the vocation work that Father Justin had
Meanwhile, His Excellency Pasquale Ragosta, Bishop of Ischia,
and Apostolic Administrator of Pozzuoli now permitted the
aspirants of Rachele Marrone’s group, who first established
themselves as a Pious Union with the permission of His
Excellency Bishop Zezza, to start Common Life. At that time
all of the Candidates began wearing a sort of religious
habit, which was distinguished from other religious groups
by a liturgical ribbon worn around the neck.
In May of 1927, the original ‘Pious Union’ was canonically
approved as a Congregation of Diocesan Right, and, on August
12th of that same year the few members of the
newly born Congregation elected Sister Giovanna as their
The unanimity with which Sister Giovanna was elected was a
living witness of the esteem and love that everyone had for
the Founder’s sister as well as an acknowledgement of her
leadership qualities and of her capability to direct the
This same day everyone took their first vows in the hands of
Father Justin; Sister Giovanna became Mother Giovanna of the