Sister Joanna Chan

Sister Joanna Chan, M.M.

Current Ministry Location-Maryknoll Sisters Center 

Sister Joanna ChanSister Joanna, from south China, entered Maryknoll in 1964, after a time teaching secondary students at Maryknoll Convent School in Hong Kong. She earned a B.A. in mathematics from Chung Chi College of the Chinese University in Hong Kong in 1967.

Sister Joanna went to New York’s Chinatown in 1970 and was director of youth services at Transfiguration Church from then until 1986.

During roughly the same period, Sister Joanna was co-founder and artistic director from 1970 to 1977, and from 1983 to 1992, of the Four Seas Players in New York City. She was artistic director of the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre from 1986 to 1990 and six years later became the group’s director. In 1992, Sister Joanna co-founded the Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America in New York City, a group that produces works for and by Asian artists.

Sister Joanna also was manager of the Maryknoll communications office between 1976 and 1977. She was appointed coordinator of Maryknoll’s China History project in 1980. In 1991, she created our Heritage Exhibit, which chronicles the mission and history of the Maryknoll Sisters, and she remains the director of the exhibit.

Sister Joanna has received many honors. A vocations video, Ordinary People, Extraordinary Deeds, which she wrote and directed, won a Clarion Award for excellence in early 2000. She was an honoree at An All-Star Salute to Chinese American Cultural Pioneers at City Hall in New York City in 1993. Later that year, she was honored on July 9, which was named “Joanna Chan Day” in the City of New York.

She also received the 1994 Distinguished Alumni Award from Teachers College of Columbia University, where she earned her M.A., M.Ed ,.and Ed.D. degrees with a major in communications. Sister Joanna has been a prolific playwright and stage director in China, Hong Kong, Canada and the United States for over 35 years.

In 2002, Sister Joanna began working in the Rehabilitation through the Arts program at Sing Sing state prison in Ossining, New York. She directed inmates in August Wilson’s Jitney and the critically-acclaimed production of Sophicle’s Oedipus Rex. In 2014, NBC’s Dateline program featured Sister Joanna and a former Sing Sing inmate, including a story about the business the ex-inmate started after he proved he had been erroneously convicted. An interview for the program was filmed at Maryknoll.

Sister Joanna also is an accomplished painter and designer and trained for six years under the great HON Chi-Fun in her youth. Her art has been presented in solo and group exhibitions throughout New York  In 2003, her oil painting An Outburst in Late Spring was honored at the Best of America! art show by the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society.

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