Sister Janice McLaughlin’s work had taken her to various countries in Africa before being elected president of the Maryknoll Sisters.
Sister Janice obtained a doctorate in religious studies from the University of Zimbabwe in 1992. Her thesis, “On the Frontline: Rural Catholic Missions and Zimbabwe’s Liberation War,” was published by Baobab Books in Harare in 1995. Sister Janice is also the co-author of an advocacy training manual used throughout Zimbabwe to train local communities to lobby for changes in policies that affect their lives. Sister Janice’s latest book is Ostriches, Dung Beetles and Other Spiritual Masters, which details the wisdom she has observed while living in Africa for more than 30 years.
Sister Janice has worked with the Washington Office on Africa, a church-based lobby group that helped to educate the American public and Congress about African affairs. In 1979, Sister Janice became the projects officer for the Zimbabwe Project, a new initiative set up by a consortium of Catholic donors to assist refugees from the war in Rhodesia. She was based in Mozambique for two years, visiting refugee camps, raising funds and purchasing supplies.
After independence in 1980, Sister Janice was invited by the independent government of Zimbabwe to work as education consultant in the President’s Office. In this capacity, she helped to build nine schools for former refugees and war veterans and to develop a new system of education which linked academic subjects with technical training. Education with Production in Zimbabwe: The Story of ZIMFEP is the book she wrote with others to describe this experiment.
In 1985, Sister Janice helped to establish the Zimbabwe Mozambique Friendship Association to assist displaced people in Mozambique who were caught up in the civil war between the government and rebels.
In 1991, Sister Janice returned to Maryknoll, NY, to work as communications coordinator for the Maryknoll Sisters. Returning to Zimbabwe in 1997, she became the training coordinator for Silveira House, a leadership training and development education center run by the Jesuits for the poor and marginalized. She also set up a scholarship fund to assist girls to go to school.
She chaired the African Forum for Catholic Social Teaching, an association of justice and peace practitioners throughout Africa, and chaired the Counseling Services Unit, a group of doctors and counselors who assist the victims of violence in Zimbabwe. Sister Janice is the author of many articles that have appeared in a variety of books and publications over the years.
In 2008, Sister Janice was elected president of the Maryknoll Sisters at their General Assembly.
In October 2015, Sister Janice, returned to Zimbabwe to continue her mission work.