sister joan haas

(S. Mary Geraldine)
March 22, 1919 - September 22, 2016

A woman of encouragement, open to the future, faithful in prayer

 On March 22, 1919, Ralph and Anna (Schlink) Haas of El Paso, Illinois, welcomed their second daughter. Joan was born at home on the family farm. Religion and prayer were an important part of her growing up, including nightly family prayers. Completing her elementary education in the local public schools, she then boarded at the Academy of Our Lady in Peoria for her high school years, where she met the Sisters of St. Joseph. She had decided early on that she wanted to be a sister. Joan recalled, “All the saints I knew about were sisters. So how could you be a saint if you weren’t a sister? I wanted to be a saint. It was that simple.”

She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph on September 15, 1937, receiving the habit and the name Sister Mary Geraldine on March 19, 1938. Sister Joan earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Fontbonne College (1951); a master’s in education from St. Louis University (1954) and a doctorate in educational psychology from Fordham University (1963).

Her teaching ministry began in the elementary schools: St. Thomas of Aquin, St. Louis, (1940); St. Michael’s, Marquette, Michigan (1942); and back to St. Louis to Most Holy Rosary (1951) and Our Lady of Lourdes (1957). In 1958, S. Joan joined the faculty at Fontbonne College, leaving there in 1960 to pursue her doctorate at Fordham. In 1962, she returned to her faculty position at Fontbonne. She continued to live at Fontbonne, teaching some classes, while serving as a provincial councilor from 1963 to 1967.

For the next three years, S. Joan served at St. Joseph Provincialate as regional superior. Sister Mary Ann Hilgeman reflects on working with S. Joan.
I fondly remember S. Joan when she was area superior over an area that included Ste. Genevieve. I was appointed local superior ... S. Joan was very supportive. Soon after I became superior, S. Genevieve Marie Okenfuss died and was waked ... in our convent. Sister Joan braved ice and snow to drive to our convent in time for the funeral, and was a big support for me as well as the other sisters.

In 1970, S. Joan returned to Fontbonne College to serve as director of counseling. This was not a position that S. Joan felt particularly suited for, so when the Superior General of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth, whom S. Joan had met at Fordham, submitted her name for the position of dean at Nazareth College, in Nazareth, Michigan, she was delighted at the chance. Her interview went well resulting in her appointment as academic dean (1971-1975.)

Then, three years were spent in Kansas City, Missouri, as director of education for St. Joseph Hospital. After a year of family care, S. Joan became program director at St. Joseph Hospital in Kirkwood, Missouri (1979).

In 1983, she served as the province long-range planning coordinator (St. Joseph Provincialate, St. Louis), and then was an assistant provincial superior (1984-1988) to Sister Frances Virginia Cholet.

During the subsequent 11 years, with the exception of a sabbatical year at Manna House of Prayer in Concordia, Kansas, S. Joan served in pastoral services at Villa St. Joseph in Overland Park, Kansas, and then at Nazareth Living Center in St. Louis.

Sister Ruth Stuckel lived with S. Joan at Fontbonne and in Kansas City.
I found Joan easy to live with and true blue. She was
prayerful, open and kind. She kept up on recent developments and had a good mind to see through weak positions. We enjoyed many a conversation about local and national news. I am grateful … that I shared community living with her.

Sister Joan retired in 1999, moving into the ministry of prayer and presence at Nazareth in 2001.
Sister Helen Oates
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