Joan L. Malherek was born in Mankato, Minnesota, August 20, 1925 to Mary Grace Siegel Malherek and Peter Edward Malherek. She had two brothers, Joseph and Paul and two sisters, Margaret and Mary. Her Sister Mary is also a Maryknoll Sister. Her parents and both brothers have predeceased her.
Joan graduated from Granada H.S., Granada, MN in 1942 and obtained a Teacher’s Certificate from Mankato State Teachers College in 1944. She then taught for six years in the public schools in Minnesota. She entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation from Our Lady of Mercy Parish (Mission of Sts. Peter and Paul, Blue Earth MN) in the Diocese of Winona, MN with her younger sister Mary on February 1, 1951, at the Maryknoll Sisters’ Novitiate in Valley Park, MO. At her Reception, she received the religious name Sister M. Joan Peter. She made her First Profession of Vows on September 8, 1953 at Valley Park, MO, and then Final Profession of Vows on September 8, 1959 at the Maryknoll Sisters Motherhouse in Ossining, NY.
Sister Joan received her Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Maryknoll Teachers College in 1954 and after graduation was assigned to teach at Transfiguration Parish in Chinatown, NY until 1962. In that same year, she was assigned to Hawaii where she taught religion and mathematics in Maryknoll High School in Honolulu for the next eight years. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics in 1971 from the University of Minnesota. From 1973 to 1976, she taught at Loyola High School, Mankato, MN while on home ministry with her mother and from 1976 to 1978 she gave service at the Center Health Unit at Maryknoll, NY.
After 27 years of formal classroom teaching Sister Joan requested to go to a more rural mission and was assigned to Guatemala where she did parish work and worked with women from 1979 until 1986 when she returned to Maryknoll, NY for a year. In 1988, she returned to Central America, to Mexico, fostering 22 Basic Christian Communities in a parish of 60,000 people. She participated in “Call and Response”, the Maryknoll Society’s program in which U.S. families experienced mission life in Latin America for a few weeks, growing in awareness and sensitivity to people of other cultures. In 2003, she moved to Colonel Azucena, Mexico Center where she did volunteer work with women until 2006.
In 2006, Sister Joan returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center where she worked in the Mission Awareness and Promotion Office, serving as Office Manager for 3 months there before she retired in 2010. She moved to the Maryknoll Sisters Convent in Monrovia CA where she died on March 13, 2016.
The funeral Mass will take place on April 1st in the Maryknoll Sisters Chapel, Monrovia, CA and internment will be in the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery on the Center grounds, Maryknoll, NY.