Current Ministry Location: Eastern U.S. Region
Sister Josephine “Jo” was born October 26th, 1930 in East Moriches, L.I., NY to Theresa (Ryf) Kollmer and John Kollmer. She had 5 sisters and 1 brother. She graduated from St. Agnes Academy, Queens, NY in 1948 and earned a bachelor of Science in Education in 1952 and a Master of Arts in Education at Adelphi College, Garden City, NY in 1957.
After teaching in the Massapequa Schools for thirteen years, Sister Jo entered the Congregation at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY in 1964. She pronounced First Vows at the Sisters Center June 24th, 1967 and Final Vows October 9th, 1971 in Kenya, East Africa.
Sister Jo’s first assignment was to Kenya in 1968 where she taught in Kilimambogo Teachers College. She also trained as a facilitator with the Africa Development Education Program using the methodology of participatory education to work with diocesan groups fostering human development in other countries including Zambia, Botswana and Lesotho.
Sister Jo was elected to the Maryknoll Sisters Central Governing Board in NY in 1978 and served during some historically difficult years from 1978-1984. Two Maryknoll Sisters, a Dominican Sister and a lay mission women were killed in El Salvador during that time.
She was assigned to Zimbabwe in 1995 and considered it a privilege to serve in Zimbabwe in its earliest years following independence. She worked with an international, ecumenical team for leadership training of South African women. Based in Harare, Zimbabwe, they traveled to neighboring countries to respond to requests.
In 1994, with two other Sisters, she initiated Maryknoll’s mission presence in newly independent Namibia. She spent fifteen years in formation of young religious women, seminarians and priests, as well as training lay catechists in the parishes and mission stations of the country. She also established the National Catechetical Program for the Namibian Bishops Conference.
After her many years in Africa, Sister Jo was assigned to the Eastern U.S. Region in 2010, and currently resides in Westchester County, NY.