Sister Joan Toohig

“Mission for me is living Christian community with the people.It is not the number of people one reaches, but the quality of one’s relation to Christ and to the people, few or many, that one touches. I have experienced love and have tried to show love to others. Without love our life would be empty.”

jtoohig_lgSister Joan entered Maryknoll on February 1, 1953 from St. Catherine of Siena parish in Burlingame, California. She came with a B.A. in Social Economics in 1951 from Dominican College of San Rafael, CA, and a Master of Science in Social Welfare from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Social Welfare in 1952. Sister Joan received her Master of Arts in Social Services from Fordham University School of Social Service in 1957.

Sister Joan made her First Profession of Vows on September 8, 1955 at Valley Park, MO and her Final Profession on 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 and taught Grade 4 in 1959.

Sister Joan was assigned 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 doing Social work. In 1965, Sister Joan was sent for a short while 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 Center in 1977 and did 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 involved except to celebrate the Sunday liturgies on Saturday nights. The priests also did 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) of 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 is currently residing in Arequipa and continues to do community service, Social Work, catechesis and formation of Christian leaders.