Sister Joan came to know the Sisters of Mercy at a young age, especially by witnessing her sister, Sister Mary Avellino, serve the Chicago community. She entered in 1957, professing perpetual vows in 1965.
While reflecting on her 60th Jubilee, Sister Joan shared, “I was a freshman in college (Saint Xavier in Chicago) when I finally decided to become a Sister of Mercy. I finished my first year, then entered, hoping to serve God as a nurse. Later, I was told I would be teaching and, lo and behold, I loved it!”
For more than 30 years, Sister Joan taught in various parochial schools in Park Forest, Des Plaines, Park Ridge and Chicago, Illinois, as well as in Mount Pleasant and Burlington, Iowa, where she served as principal at St. Patrick from 1968–70. She was assistant principal at Mary, Seat of Wisdom School, located in Park Ridge, from 1970–78. Former students may remember her as Sister Joseph Marie.
Sister Joan went into pastoral care in 1994, serving at St. Benedict Home in Niles, Illinois. Six years later, however, she returned to her favorite calling as a teacher and serving as a part-time substitute at St. Angela School in Chicago. She stayed at St. Angela for nearly 15 years teaching part-time as well as assisting as support staff.
Her motto: “In You, O Lord, We Hope,” served her well.