Sister Janet Srebalus
Current Ministry Location – Tanzania
Janet Srebalus was born November 21, 1940 in Chicago Heights, IL to Eva F. (Salis) Srebalus and Joseph A. Srebalus. She had 2 brothers: David and Jerome. Janet graduated from St. Agnes Academy, Indianapolis, IN in 1958. In 1962 she earned a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN.
Janet entered the Maryknoll Sisters October 18, 1962 at the Valley Park, MO novitiate. She professed First Vows June 24, 1965 and Final Vows April 11, 1971 in Tanzania.
Janet’s first mission assignment was in 1966 to Morogoro, Tanzania, East Africa. There she taught Home Economics, English and Religion at Marian Girls Secondary School. In 1970, she was transferred to Dar es Salaam as teacher and librarian at Tambaza Boys Secondary School.
During the years of 1973-1978, Sr. Janet was also appointed the first Caritas Development Director for Dar es Salaam, working with clergy and Basic Christian Communities to start development projects in groups and parishes.
As the Tanzanian Church was in the process of implementing Vatican II, Sr. Janet, as Secretary to the Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam, played a part in developing the Five-Year Pastoral Plan which prioritized ministry with youth, especially Standard Seven Leavers and those drifting to the big city from rural areas. Having experience working with both young women and men, Sr. Janet joined the Working Youth Committee and together with another Maryknoll Sister, Sr. Connie Krautkremer and Maryknoll Father, Marvin Deutsch, activated Catholic youth with seminars and small economic projects.
Assigned to the United States in 1978, Sr. Janet was providing Congregational Service as a member of the West Coast Vocation Team. In 1982 she earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology and Pastoral Counseling from Loyola College, Baltimore, MD, and became a member of the Orientation/Formation Team at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, New York. Encouraging and mentoring young women who felt a call to mission and religious life was an enduring passion for Sr. Janet which continues up to the present time as a member of her Tanzanian Regional Vocation/Integration Team.
Returning to. Tanzania in. 1986, Sr. Janet combined her teaching, Home. Economics and Counseling training, by focusing on women’s development and empowerment both in the North Western villages of Tarime and Musoma town. She mentored women village leaders and trained Candidates in Tanzanian Religious Communities, especially the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa, who would in the future expand village women’s development.
In the 1990’s with the HIV-AIDS pandemic seriously infecting numerous Tanzanians as in other parts of the world, 1997 brought. Sr. Janet to Mwanza, the second largest city in Tanzania. She became co-supervisor with Fr. John Eybel, MM in the Clinical Pastoral Education Program at Bugando Referral Hospital. There they trained counselors to work with people living with HIV-AIDS. Combined with that specialized ministry, Sr. Janet continued to reach out to youth, women’s groups and Religious, giving seminars, retreats and counseling,
Congregational. Service once again brought Sr. Janet back to Maryknoll, NY. In 2000 she was assigned as Co-Executive Coordinator of the Maryknoll Affiliates, a movement of lay people actively doing mission with marginalized people wherever they live and work.
Always anxious to be back in Africa, Sr. Janet responded to the post-election crisis in Kenya in 2008 by helping to feed the internally displaced people of Nairobi in an ecumenical effort. Later, she settled back in Tanzania, this time in Morogoro, where she joined the Staff at the Holistic Education Center for Sisters and Jordan University and College. In both places, she taught Psychology, Human Development and Counseling Skills, as well as accompanying a women’s group and prisoners.
As of 2019, Sr. Janet back in Mwanza, where now she was giving spiritual direction at Good Shepherd Lake House of Prayer and continuing her work of training Tanzanian Sisters from local Congregations in Psychology and Counseling skills.
For more than fifty years, Sister Janet has been building and sharing community with Tanzanians. “People in Tanzania and other African countries, have much to teach us about building relationships, community values, hospitality, generosity and celebration.”