Sister Jean Karier
“I often ponder over the goodness God has shown me in my life. It has been a beautiful and blessed life.” (Sister Jean Karier)
“It has been a beautiful and blessed life. There have been ups and downs, but God has been with me at all times. I can honestly say that my life had been filled with many more ups than downs. Many of the blessings of those years are due to the strong and beautiful people I have lived with — family and Sisters of Providence,” read Sister Jeanne Knoerle. Sister Jeanne read the words of Sister Jean Karier, who had prepared her own commentary. Sister Jean died March 7.
Cecilia Susan Karier was born Sept. 16, 1914, in Evanston, Ill., the oldest of 10 children of John and Margaret (Linster) Karier. She attended St. Mel Grade School, Chicago.
“I had hoped to attend Providence High School [Chicago] which has just opened,” wrote Sister Jean. “However I knew my parents could not afford to send me. To make a long story short, Sister Helen Clare [Freiburger, RIP], then principal at St. Mel, asked if I would be willing to work my way through. When I said an enthusiastic yes, she wrote a letter of recommendation stating that I had graduated at the top of my class, could not afford Providence, but was willing to work my way through,” wrote Sister Jean, who graduated from Providence High School.
Sister Jean entered the Congregation Feb. 11, 1932. She received the religious name Sister Jeanne. “The spelling was later changed to ‘Jean’ as the bishop seemed to have a problem with the pronunciation of Jeanne,” wrote Sister Jean.
Sister Jean was one of four Karier sisters to enter the Congregation. The other sisters included Sister Margaret Jean (RIP), Sister Margaret (RIP), and Sister Dorothy (RIP). Sister Jean professed first and perpetual vows Aug. 15, 1934, and Jan. 23, 1940, respectively. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a master’s degree in special education from St. Louis University.
Sister Jean commenced teaching in 1934 at St. Philip Neri, Indianapolis. Her other Indiana classrooms included Sacred Heart and Assumption, Evansville; St. Anthony and Immaculate Heart, Indianapolis; and St. John, Loogootee. She also spent two years at Our Lady of Mercy, Chicago.
In 1957, the Congregation was asked to provide sisters to work with mentally challenged students. Sister Jean answered the call and taught special education at St. John, Holy Cross, and St. Mary’s Child Center, Indianapolis. In 1969, she opened a program for mentally challenged students at St. Agnes, Chicago.
“In December of 1976, Sister Ruth Eileen Dwyer phoned me from St. Mary’s and asked me to discern about coming to the college since next fall they would need a part-time special education teacher,” wrote Sister Jean, who also served as a part-time secretary for the Generalate staff. Sister Jean ministered at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College from 1977 to 1980. During this time, she lived at Woodland Inn on the motherhouse grounds.
In 1991, Sister Jean retired, but continued to volunteer at the motherhouse in many different ways.
Due to health reasons, Sister Jean had to leave Woodland Inn and move to Owens Hall in 1984. “From then until my health took me to Lourdes Hall in November of 2000, I lived with the Emmaus community. Those years were happy ones, praying, working and celebrating together. This was the first time since I had been in community that I got to live with one of my own sisters. I got to know Sister Margaret Jean during that time, and it was a loving and enjoyable experience,” wrote Sister Jean.
The Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Jean was celebrated March 11, with the Rev. James Hyland presiding. She is survived by one sister, Rosemary Hyland of Westchester, Ill.
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