sister joan erdmann


January 13, 1930 - December 5, 2012

A life lived to be of service to others

In her own way, Sister Joan Erdmann was one of the greatest givers we have had in our community. She lived to be of service to others. Very much like our patron St. Joseph, who went about doing and being for the Holy Family,
S. Joan lived a simple life, embracing daily what came her way.

Joan was born January 13, 1930, to Elmer and Rose Bellin Erdmann in Green Bay, Wis. This first-born child would later become the big sister to four brothers and one sister. At age 18, Joan left Green Bay to join the community in the fall of 1948. She received the habit and name, S. Rose Wilma on March 19, 1949.

Like many of us, S. Joan began teaching on the elementary level. She was one of those primary teachers who stayed with that ministry almost all of her active life. While a good many of her teaching assignments were in St. Louis, she also taught in Negaunee, Mich.; West DePere and Shawano, Wis.; Washington, Ga.; and Houston, Texas. These teaching years, 1951 – 1974, were happy ones. Learning from others and sharing creative ideas with fellow teachers enhanced her instruction and allowed friends to enter her life. While at St. Vincent School in St. Louis she met her dear friend, Margaret. The two of them remained fast friends to the present. While she liked teaching in St. Louis, she was happy to be close to her family when missioned in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Following her profession in 1951, S. Joan spent her summers studying at Fontbonne, and in 1958, she received her bachelor’s degree in education from that institution. From 1975-1989 she was a teacher aide at St. Rose of Lima School in Houston. While there she worked very closely with Ms. Colette Connelly in establishing The Learning Center at St. Rose School. Since S. Joan loved to read it was only natural that she be the one to help establish the school’s library. She read to the children and helped them find books appropriate for their grade level and their interests. One teacher wrote, "Her quiet, consistent support, her comprehensive knowledge of the learning center’s operation, and her willingness to serve others selflessly make her an exceptional role model for children and adults alike." Ending formal classroom teaching, from 1989 – 1994, S. Joan assumed a staff position at the Carondelet Day Care Center located on the campus of the motherhouse.

After moving to Nazareth Living Center in 1995, S. Joan faithfully corresponded with her many friends. Other correspondents included incarcerated persons and sick and homebound persons. Over the years, she touched many lives and filled people with her compassion, comfort and support. Besides writing letters and

making phone calls to those she cared about, S. Joan had her own Ministry of Visiting at Nazareth. For years, she and S. Teresa Lawrence would go to

S. Ann Bernadette Wagner’s room. They’d take her to the Ice Cream Parlor or sit in her room where they would do their own "sharing of the heart." S. Ann Bernadette always welcomed their daily visits.

These past few years S. Joan suffered physically and mentally. Yet, she never complained about her pain. She just voiced her desire to be back at Nazareth so that no one would have to visit her at the hospital. An especially bleak time occurred when, while visiting friends in Houston, she fell and needed hospitalization. But her last days were very happy. She felt better, was going to physical therapy to get her strength back, and was so happy to tell everyone how blessed she felt. Of the many who wrote to her she said, "I didn’t know so many people loved me."

Death came as a surprise to her. She suffered a seizure and was rushed to the hospital. She died quickly. The medics who came to Nazareth and took her to the hospital commented on how she smiled and took time to thank them. For all of the lives she has touched by her caring and compassionate support, may she now enjoy eternal happiness.

S. Kathleen Karbowski
S. Rita Louise Huebner

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