JUNE 2002: SISTER JANICE SCHNEIDER
In a manner of speaking, Sister Janice grew up with the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. She was about 6 months old when she made her first visit to the Motherhouse to visit her great-aunt, Sister Rita. Sister Rita was particularly proud because Janice’s middle name is Rita, in her honor. The family made trips to Springfield several times a year to visit her. As Janice grew older, she remembers walking into Convent Entrance and feeling very much at home.
Sister Rita always used to tease young Janice about entering the convent, but that it had to be her own decision. However, Sister Rita also added she wasn’t going to die until Janice came to take her place. Janice thinks that Sister Rita knew something, though, because Janice received her letter of acceptance to the Community in January of 1989, and Sister Rita died in April of that same year. Actually, Janice was at the Motherhouse the day that Sister Rita died, although she was not at her bedside. While Sister Rita wasn’t physically there when Janice actually entered, she was most certainly there in spirit.
As Janice was discerning her call to the Hospital Sisters, Sister Marion Hahn told her that she had many relatives in the Community. While Janice was aware that there were some distant cousins who had been members of the Community, she did not know just how many. She asked Sister Marion for more information about this. The next time Janice saw her, Sister Marion proudly provided a list of all of the relatives Janice had in the Community. The first one had entered in 1888, and Janice was number 16 on that list! Right after Janice joined the Community, she was the youngest member, and the oldest was Sister Mercedes Hahn, another of her cousins.
Janice grew up on a farm just outside of Olney, Illinois. She is oldest of seven children, 4 boys and 3 girls. Their family had always been active in the local parish – mom serving as sacristan and dad being the organist for many years. So participating in the Church and parish life came naturally to Janice.
She attended public grade school for seven years (although the school was right beside the parish church). When she started the 8th grade, the local school district decided to close the public school, but its operation was assumed by the parish – that’s how she can say she graduated from a Catholic grade school. She attended the public high school in Olney and then graduated from Olney Central College with an Associates Degree in Secretarial Science.
After graduation, Janice became a full-time secretary at a local law firm for almost 6 years. She recalls that on her first day, she had the feeling that this was only temporary; in hindsight, this may have been her first awareness that maybe religious life would be in her future.
A few years later, when Janice attended Mass for the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, the priest preached about how Mary trusted in the Lord when she said “yes” to the angel, Gabriel. He said that Mary took a risk, a “leap of faith.” Somehow, that phrase touched her, and she felt like the priest was talking directly to her. She knew then that she had to give religious life a chance or part of her would always be wondering “what if . . .” Soon thereafter, she made contact with Sister Chaminade Kelley, the Vocation Directress. Janice entered the Community on June 11, 1989.
The Community has challenged Sister Janice and encouraged her to develop her gifts and talents. She obtained a Bachelors Degree in Business from the University of Illinois at Springfield. For the past 4 years, she has served as a Statistical Accountant at St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Presently, she is also pursuing an MBA degree.
She looks forward to the opportunities of continuing to enhance herself so that she can serve the Community and the Church and carry on the tradition of the 15 women in her family who preceded her in the Hospital Sisters!! Who knows where #17 might be right now?