A Deep-Seated Connection Leads to Charitable Commitment

By Patti Eischen

To say that Janet Sullivan has a long association with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet would be the hyperbole of an understatement. A Chicago native, she was educated from sixth grade through high school by the CSJs. She has always said that she has “the longest umbilical cord in the world from Chicago to 6400 Minnesota Avenue.”

“The CSJs were and are a big influence in my life,” she admits. “I saw early on how their charism of loving relationships—loving God, each other and earth—was evident in making relationships with the dear neighbor.” Powerful stuff.

After graduating from Fontbonne College (now University) in St. Louis, she remained in the area and had two careers: the first in hospital work. She was director of cardiac diagnostic testing at Deaconess Hospital for 20 years. The second, in her opinion, was “a ministry if you do it right” as a licensed funeral director. In that capacity, she helped families plan services and navigate the grieving process.

It is Janet’s long, deep-seated connection that was the impetus for her to join as a CSJ associate.

“It started as what felt like a prayer group. But after a while, I really heard God calling me to more. I knew it was time. When I asked the director of association for an application, she said, ‘It’s about time,’” chuckles Janet.

“Being an associate, we have to make a commitment. I call it a covenant,” she says.

It is this same connection to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet that inspires Janet to donate in a variety of ways. She is a member of the Fleur de Lis Monthly Giving Club and gives to major campaigns. In addition, she has remembered the sisters in her will, and, thus, is a member of the Circle of Carondelet.

When asked about the “why” of it, her answer is simple, “Because I love the sisters.”

“I do think that associates should contribute. I know that my contribution, though it is small, helps continue the mission and ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Finances are a reality. But they, the sisters, can’t do what they do without donations,” Janet clarifies.

Even after her husband passed away, Janet chose to continue to support the sisters at the same monetary level. “It’s easy to do if the contribution comes out of my account automatically—it’s really quite effortless.”

“We all have gifts of time, talent and treasure,” she says, “My financial contribution is an important part of that.”

In addition to her commitment as an associate and a donor, Janet volunteers in the Spiritual Care and Sister Care departments at Nazareth Living Center twice a week or more.

“The spirit there is totally different from other senior living communities because of the sisters. I remember them being teachers, but now they are active in other ways. They just can’t help themselves, they reach out to the lay residents,” she explains. “I do this because it makes me feel good. I am helping people.”

Janet’s volunteerism provides yet another link to the sisters. She gives back to the CSJs who have been such a major influence in her life.