sister janine arellano


December 6, 1931 - September 17, 2011

Always seeking the more

Sister Janine was one of six children born December 6, 1931, to Anselmo and Victoria Guerrero Arellano. Her parents were born in Spain, were married in 1908 and raised their family in Europe. In 1917, Janine's father emigrated alone to the United States and 12 years later had enough money to bring his family over from Spain. They settled in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Janine was born in 1931, the only child born in the United States.

From little on, Janine was eager to learn about her Catholic faith, memorizing her prayers and looking forward to receiving the sacraments, even though her parents were not "churchgoing people." Her older sister Madeleine was her godmother. Taking her responsibility seriously, Madeleine made sure Janine attended catechism classes at St. Cecilia's, their parish church.

As a young adult, Janine seriously practiced her faith and learned all she could about various spiritual practices. Her favorite book, The Autobiography of the Life of St. Therese of Lisieux, she said "had a great impact on me." While at the University of Illinois in Champaign, she explored the possibility of religious life with help from her spiritual director. He introduced her to the Sisters of St. Joseph at Holy Cross in Champaign, and, with encouragement from them, she entered the community in September 1955. She received the habit and name S. Maria on March 19, 1956.

S. Janine began her active ministry as an elementary teacher in St. Louis. Later she taught Spanish in high schools, first at Reicher High School in Waco; her most extensive teaching was at St. Joseph's Academy in St. Louis where she served from 1964 to 1981. S. Janine was an avid student herself and absorbed all she could to prepare for all teaching levels. Eventually she earned a master's degree in Spanish from St. Louis University in 1970.

After teaching she took up pastoral care. Among other places, she was a chaplain at St. Francis Hospital in Wilmington, Del., for 11 years. In her pre-retirement years S. Janine taught basic education classes in the St. Louis Public School System as well as GED preparation classes. A gift to her students and a master teacher, she sparkled up her program with a variety of guest speakers and special field trips.

Seemingly restless, S. Janine was always yearning for the more, seeking out her God by attending workshops, lectures, 30-day retreats, weekend retreats and scripture study classes. She rarely missed a gathering sponsored by the community and took seriously her part in mentoring associate candidates while attending many associate functions.

Independent and often fearless, she would travel great distances by herself. Her dedication to family took her to New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Georgia, and even to Spain and France. No place was too far. One of her greatest joys was to visit LePuy and Lyon in 2009 and then afterwards to travel with her nephew and his wife in Spain, where she journeyed to her parents' hometown. So great was her love for family members that she maintained an extensive correspondence with them.

S. Janine struggled with a number of health problems, but for the most part, did not let them slow her down. However, her last illness proved too much to overcome and necessitated that she move to Nazareth Living Center. There the symptoms of her Parkinson's diagnosis manifested themselves rapidly and cut into her energy. When she was able she was most appreciative of visitors. She lingered for several weeks until her peaceful death on Sept. 17.

All of what she so diligently yearned for, she now knows fully in her union with God for eternity. May she rest in peace.

S. Rita Louise Huebner

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