Born in 1926 in St. Louis, MO, Sister Joan graduated from Notre Dame, St. Louis, in 1944, and entered Maryknoll Sisters from St. Liborius Parish, St. Louis, on September 6, 1945. She received the religious name, Sister M. St. Vincent de Paul, at reception.
She then enrolled at Maryknoll Teachers College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in education in 1951, following which she was sent to Chile, where she would serve for nearly 55 years. Her first assignment was teaching Grades 2 – 6 at a school for the poor in Curepto from 1952-1959. She then served as principal of a Maryknoll Sisters grade school in Talcahuano, from 1959-1967. Next, she taught elementary school children in Galvarino for a year, followed by religion and math to eighth graders at St. Vincent’s School, Chillan, where she also worked with women catechists, from 1968-1972. During this same period, she earned her master’s degree in counseling and guidance in 1970. She was then named principal of St. Vincent’s, where she also led Bible prayer groups, for a year.
In 1973, Sister Joan moved back to Talcahuano, where she developed retreat teams for youth and adults and served as advisor to parish prayer groups until 1974. She then founded a House of Prayer in Talcahuano, which she ran from 1974-1980. The House of Prayer hosted 30 retreats a year. During the same period, Sister Joan edited a manual, containing six basic retreats offered at the house.
Follow five years in congregational service at Maryknoll, NY, she returned to Chile, where she served as facilitator for the congregation’s Regional Governing Board, while also doing pastoral, catechetical and retreat work in Puente Alto and Santiago from 1985-1999. She then conducted retreats at Padre Hurtado Retreat House in Padre Hurtado, Chile, from 2000-2004.
Sister Joan then returned once more to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, where she worked in the Development Department’s Promotion Office from 2004-2009. She continues to reside at the Center, where she steadfastly prays for the people of Chile. “I dream of the day when the lay folk will more and more take over the running of their local church,” Sister Joan said. “I dream of the day when Chile, a Church that has suffered and endured so much, will have its own Mission Society of Chile. That will be my glorious triumph day.”