Wednesday, July 24, 2024
Concordia Sisters of St. Joseph

Concordia Sisters of St. Joseph

Loving God and neighbor without distinction: A pontifical institute of women religious of the Roman Catholic Church

Sister Janice Koelzer

Concordia, Kan.

Sister Janice was born and raised in Seneca, Kan. She met the Sisters of St. Joseph when they were working in the hospital at Seneca. She says, “They seemed compassionate and joyful. I wanted to help in their works. I wanted to serve the sick.” Sister Janice has devoted her whole life to doing just that.

For 23 years she was a Nurse Educator and Practitioner with Marymount College in Salina. Living on campus, she went to the hospital early every morning where she supervised students, served as the director of the women’s’ dormitory and was Campus Nurse. Her next ministry was parish ministry at Seven Dolors Parish in Manhattan, Kan., where, among many other duties, she visited the sick. She volunteered with hospice and was the first woman elected president of the group, a position previously held only by doctors! Sister Janice says, “I didn’t realize how much that would help me in the future working with those with terminal illnesses and cancer patients.”

In 1988 she helped start the Duchesne Clinic in Kansas City, Kan., for the homeless and those who could not afford health insurance. (The clinic was named after St. Phillipine Rose Duchesne who was canonized in 1988.) Sister Janice recalls, “We did health assessments at food kitchen and shelters, where ever we thought the homeless
might be. We even had a large mobile van that we’d take to poor neighborhoods for the convenience of people who did not have a way to get to the Clinic.”

While in Kansas City, she again volunteered with hospice and was involved in social justice issues, such as participating in peace marches and protesting war. During her sixth year at the Clinic, the community asked her to be an administrator of the Motherhouse working with the 80 Sisters who lived there at the time. In 1997, Sister Janice was diagnosed with cancer. She received chemotherapy in Salina and drove back and forth to Concordia when she could.

Currently, Sister Janice lives in Concordia. In her younger days, she played tennis and golf. Now she enjoys watching sports, playing bridge, reading, listening to music, working on computers, and swimming laps! In addition, Sister Janice still continues to assist with health needs of others and helps in the daily activities of living to promote wellness of others.

Sister Janice says, “I thank God for this life. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to serve the sick. Jesus did more healing of the sick than teaching in the temple. I believe in preaching the Gospel as St. Francis of Assisi mentioned, that sometimes we have to use words. I think he would have like the song, ‘They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love.’

“I am grateful for my community. I have received support and had opportunities for education and many experiences. I’m very grateful for the growth and changes since Vatican II that we have incorporated. Being in community allows one to do more than if alone. I have much gratitude also to my family, friends and relatives. During all these years, their love, concern and support have been most helpful. Life hasn’t been easy, but each opportunity has seemed to challenge me and prepare me for the next one. It’s like the rungs on a ladder, a step at a time. Keep climbing and trying to focus on God.”

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