Sister Joan Uhlen, Maryknoll Sister for 77 Years Dies

Maryknoll, NY: Sister Joan Uhlen, M.M. educator and pastoral worker died on August 12th, 2019 at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Ossining, NY.

Joan was born in St. Louis, MO, on December 21st, 1923 to Lily Ann (Pistorius) Uhlen and Bernard J. Uhlen. She had three brothers, Herbert, Henry and Raymond, and three sisters, Lorraine, Mrs. Margaret Ahrens, and Sister Teresa of Jesus, OCD; all of whom have pre-deceased her.

In 1941, Joan graduated from Rosati-Kain High School in St. Louis, MO. She then entered the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center in Ossining, NY on September 6th, 1942 (from Holy Ghost Parish, now part of St. Ann’s and Visitation Parishes of the St. Louis Diocese).

At her Reception on March 7th, 1943 she received the religious name Sister M. Joan Francis. She made her First Profession of Vows at the Maryknoll Sisters Center on March 7th, 1945 and pronounced her Final Vows on March 7th, 1948 also at the Sisters Center.

Sister Joan attended Maryknoll Teachers College from 1944-1948, graduating with a Bachelor of Education Degree. She then received her first mission assignment to Kaneohe, HI where she taught in St. Ann’s Grade School and High School until 1957. Sister Joan returned to NY to study, in 1958 she earned a Masters of Education Degree from Fordham University in the Bronx, NY.  After earning her Master’s Degree, she returned to Kaneohe and was appointed Principal of St. Ann’s Grade and High School until 1964. In 1965, she was assigned to the Maryknoll School in Punahou, HI where she taught English and religious guidance to grades 10 and 12.

Sister Joan returned to the U.S. in 1968 for a renewal period and to do promotion work for the Congregation.  In 1970, she was assigned to a new mission in Yucatan, Mexico. After language study there, she worked with students in art, films and multi-media.

In 1972, Sister Joan was assigned to Condega, Nicaragua where she did pastoral work with parish and diocesan teams.  She also created educational courses for women and children’s groups.  In 1974, she was appointed Regional Coordinator for the Panama/Nicaragua/El Salvador Region in the Maryknoll Sisters Regional House.  She then returned to Condega, Nicaragua where she immersed herself in Pastoral work and adult education until 2003; when she called on hundreds of friends to help her construct a retreat house, “Casa de Paz” (House of Peace). In 2008, Sister Joan returned to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, NY where she retired.

In 2013, a plaza in Nicaragua that happened to be located directly across from “Casa de Paz” was renamed in her honor to, “Plaza Hermana Joan Uhlen.”

A Vespers Service will be held for Sister Joan on Thursday, August 15th, 2019 in the Chapel of the Annunciation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center.

 A Mass of Christian Burial will take place on August 16th, 2019 in the same chapel to be followed by interment at the Maryknoll Sisters Cemetery.