THURSDAY, JULY 12, 2012
“Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.”- Rumi
Sr. Joan Marie was a Sister of St. Benedict at Our Lady of Grace and served as the Program Director at Benedict Inn. I first met her when I visited Benedict Inn in November of 2011. I was invited to have a short interview and eat lunch with the staff before officially becoming an intern. I’ll never forget the spirit with which Joan Marie greeted me. The first thing she asked me was if I were Slovak…and I hated to disappoint her because she was so enthused. Over time I would understand that this enthusiasm was simply a part of her personality; something that made her a great program director.
She not only had a passion for connecting with others (her network of friends has grown to gargantuan proportions), but for truly serving others through Benedict Inn’s programs. She had a strong interest in working with youth, and designed leadership programs (among others) for them. However, she also aimed to provide educational, social and spiritual programs for all people. So much of her legacy will live on at Benedict Inn.
Although by the time I arrived as an intern she was dealing with her health issues, Sr. Joan Marie remained the friendly and warm woman I first met. She often visited us in the office, and I enjoyed sharing meals with her at the monastery. We had a number of things in common: ties to Chicago, a love for working with youth, and a habit of keeping a messy desk. She called me Little One, said I’d make a good Benedictine nun, and told me I was allowed to make at least one mistake every day. I value all my moments with her.
I wish I’d had more time to work with this wonderful woman, but I know she is at home in Heaven now, where angels belong. We (myself and her enormous body of friends) will miss her, will be praying for her and her loved ones, but do believe that she is smiling again.