Sister Janet Lander — on her 40th Jubilee

December 15, 2016 by

PARENTS: William (Bill) and Lois Lander
HOMETOWN: born in Santa Monica, Calif.; childhood in Reseda, Calif.
RECEIVED INTO CONGREGATION: Sept. 8, 1977 (Sisters of St. Louis); finalized transfer of vows to Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia July 22, 2006.

EDUCATION:
Mount St. Mary’s University, Los Angeles (bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education ); Boston College (master’s degree in pastoral ministry and post-master’s certificate in the practice of spirituality)

MISSIONS:
Prior to 2003 (as a Sister of St. Louis) Eight years teaching in Catholic elementary school, eight years in Catholic high school teaching in theology and serving in campus ministry, one year working for Catholic Charities of Orange, Calif., five years of pastoral ministry as a missionary in Brazil.
2003-2016 Staff member at Manna House of Prayer, Concordia (spiritual direction, giving retreats, facilitation, art, co-director for CSJ Associate Program, teacher of Candidates and committee work [nonviolence, global integrity, vocation work, etc.])
2016-present Congregational Leadership Council, Concordia, and adjunct staff at Manna House

 

When I was a wide-eyed second grader, I had a teacher who read us a saint story every day, and most of these were stories of martyrdom. She ended each with the refrain, “and she went straight to heaven.”

As attractive as that seemed, I was grasped by the concept of giving everything in loving God. When I daydreamed, I imagined myself dying for Jesus. But by the time I was in sixth grade, becoming a martyr had lost its luster! Yet that desire to give my whole life to God never left. It became my primary reason for entering religious life when I was 19.

Fast forward about ten years: I was serving as a missionary in the interior of Brazil. These were times when those who stood with the landless poor in their cry for justice often experienced dire consequences. Such was the case for a 33-year-old priest named Josimo who was gunned down just outside the church sacristy. Many lay pastoral leaders, sisters and priests travelled a day or more to get to his funeral. I had never experienced anything like it, the people rising up and proclaiming someone a saint, martyr of the Church. I witnessed Josimo’s mother like a modern Mater Dolorosa, and people singing over and over, “No greater love has one than to lay down his life for his friends.”

The fire was rekindled in my soul as the people remembered Josimo as having lived to the ultimate consequences of loving.

That is what best captures what religious life has meant for me these 40 years, every day trying to love, to lay down my life in love of God and neighbor without distinction.

I desire my life to be one of selfless service that makes the love of God present to others.

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