Sister Joan Toohig

Sister Joan Toohig
Current Ministry Location – Peru

Joan Toohig was born February 19, 1930 in San Mateo, CA to Otille (Miller) Toohig and Joseph D. Toohig. She had 2 sisters: Marie and Patricia. Joan graduated from Mercy High School, Burlingame, CA in 1947. She earned a Bachelor of Arts-Social Economics from Dominica College, San Francisco, CA in 1951 and a Master of Science in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley, and School of Social Welfare in 1952.

Joan entered the Maryknoll Sisters February 1, 1953 at the Valley Park, MO novitiate from St. Catherine of Siena parish in Burlingame, CA. She professed First Vows September 8, 1955 at Valley Park and Final Vows September 8, 1961 in Lima, Peru.

Sister Joan was assigned to Queen of the World Hospital in Kansas City, MO from 1957- 1959 doing medical and social work. She went to Chicago, Chinatown for a short time in 1959 and taught Grade 4.

Sister Joan received her first overseas assignment to the Bolivia/Peru region in 1960. After language and culture study in Cochabamba, Bolivia Sister Joan was assigned in 1961 to Lima, Peru at the Ciudad de Dios (City of God) parish, a shanty town on the outskirts of the city to do Social work. In 1965, Sister Joan was loaned for a short time to do social work in Guayaramerin, Bolivia.

Sister Joan returned to Peru in 1966 and was assigned to Arequipa. She headed up the parish office of Social Services. Sister Joan was a member of the Board of Directors of Arequipa’s Conference of Religious and delegate to the zonal bishops’ meetings for southern Peru from 1972- 1973. Sister Joan did pastoral work and group work with women, particularly farm women and maids and also organized a club for TB patients and formed a Bible Reflection group in the parish from 1974-1977.

Sister Joan returned to the NY Center in 1977 and gave Congregational Service in supportive services up to 1979.

In June 1980, Sister Joan was assigned to Tacna, Peru. She did bible reflection groups, breakfast programs for children and work with parents. Sister Joan was one of four Maryknoll Sisters serving the pastoral needs of this area that comprised 13 barrios. There were no priests available except to celebrate the Sunday liturgies on Saturday nights. The priests also gave mass baptisms once a month. The Sisters prepared the people for the reception of the Sacraments, did youth ministry, family catechesis and formed lay leaders.

In 1998 Sister Joan found herself up at 12,300 ft. above sea level in the Andes Mountains of Peru in the town of Yanque, where she and Sr. George Anthony (Antonia) from the Bronx, NY were involved in a breakfast program started in 1985. The Sisters were convinced that food was more nourishing and healthy than medication.

When her two elderly unmarried sisters were ill and needed help, Sister Joan went to San Mateo, California to be with them from 2004-2010. While there, Sister Joan kept in close contact with her friends in Yanque, Peru. After completion of her Family Ministry, Sister Joan returned to Peru on September 18, 2012. Sister Joan resides in Arequipa providing community service, Social Work, catechesis and formation of Christian leaders.