Sister Joan (Ruth Cecile) Klega
“The winter solstice occurs once a year, when the tilt of Earth’s axis is oriented directly away from the sun, causing the sun to appear to reach its northern-most extreme. The name is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) because at the solstice, the sun stands in declination; that is, its apparent movement north or south comes to a standstill.” (quote by Sister Jan Craven)
“A passage happened last Friday evening of the winter solstice, when our dear sister and friend Sister Joan made the most courageous passage of her life, the passage to Love in its purest form, a rebirth, the passage to our provident God. She waited for the longest night of the year to leave us,” said Sister Jan Craven in her commentary for Sister Joan Klega, who died Dec. 21.
Born Aug. 2, 1931, in Terre Haute, Ind., Joan Klega was one of three children of Harry and Mae (Manske) Klega. She attended St. Patrick Grade School and St. Patrick High School, both in Terre Haute. She graduated from Ladywood, Indianapolis, and entered the Congregation Feb. 2, 1951, receiving the religious name Sister Ruth Cecile. She professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1953, and 1958, respectively. Sister Joan earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in music education from Illinois State University.
Sister Joan began teaching music in 1953 at Holy Family, Jasper, Ind. In Illinois, she ministered as a music teacher at Our Lady of Sorrows, Chicago; St. Athanasius, Evanston; and St. Francis Xavier, Wilmette.
After receiving her CPE, Sister Joan ministered as a chaplain at Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis; Lutheran General Hospital, Park Ridge, Ill.; and Children’s Memorial Hospital, Chicago. She spent two years as an insurance policy writer in Park Ridge, Ill., before serving as a pastoral minister at Catholic Indian Mission, Fort Yates, N.D., from 1981 to 1984. She then returned to Illinois to serve as a pastoral associate/musician/liturgist for St. Gerard Majella Parish, Markham, and St. Anne Parish, Hazel Crest. Her last ministry was as a substitute receptionist at Sacred Heart Parish, Palos Hills, Ill.
Sister Jan, who lived with Sister Joan for the last year in Palos Heights, Ill., continued, “I conceived an admiration for Sister Joan over the years, but especially this year. I felt the utmost confidence in her upright, inspiring character and outlook and a personal regard — affection I must say — for her beyond my power to express today. Sister Joan’s love of her community, her respect for its direction, her power of gauging the tides and currents of the world’s mobile public opinion were always evident. Added to these were the beatings of that generous heart which was always stirred to action by spectacles of aggression and oppression by the strong against the weak.
“Sister Joan’s passing is, indeed, a loss, a loss to us all. Sister Joan’s physical affliction lay heavily upon her, but you would never know it. It was a marvel that she bore up against it through all the many years of tumult and storm. Very few would have attempted to plunge into a ministerial life of physical and mental exertion and almost every day with a beautiful unassuming attitude and smile. Her middle name was determination. In this extraordinary effort of the spirit over the flesh, the will power over physical infirmity, she was inspired and sustained by that noble woman and founder of this Congregation, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, whose high ideals matched with her own. The causes of human freedom and of social justice, to which so much of her life had been given, added a melodic luster to the rest of her life — a luster which will long be discernible among us all. Sister Joan left behind her a winter solstice to remember as the day the sun stood still so that she could enter the gates of paradise because she knew all along that she was loved with an everlasting love,” concluded Sister Jan.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Joan was celebrated Dec. 27 with the Rev. Bernard Head presiding. She was preceded in death by her brother. She is survived by her sister Kathleen Klega Rourke of Terre Haute, Ind.
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