Joanna Hosteny: Just Like Family
If you’d ask Joanna Hosteny of Chicago why she supports the Sisters of Providence, her answer would likely be because they are like family.
Yes, her aunt, the late Sister Irma Clare Irwin, was a Sister of Providence for 77 years.
Yes, Joanna was taught by the sisters at St. Leo Grade School, Chicago.
So she financially supports the Congregation to honor the women religious who shaped her life as a young girl and to assist those Sisters of Providence who are today serving in various ministries throughout the country.
Growing up in Chicago, Joanna remembers the role the sisters played in the lives of her, her brother and her parents.
“They were very important to me growing up. They did so much good for so many people. They gave of themselves for very little in return besides spiritual gain,” said Joanna, a 1958 graduate of Visitation High School, Chicago.
“I can remember when we were young, my aunt couldn’t come to our house. We had to go see her [at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods]. It was so much fun when she finally got to come [to our home]. And, of course, when she got to come and stay with us, that was super!” continued Joanna.
Living near the parish school, Joanna had a unique relationship with the sisters. Every once in a while in the summer Joanna and her friends would see a couple of Sisters of Providence taking a stroll down the sidewalk. “We kids were so thrilled! We never got to see the nuns outside of school. Then at Halloween we would go and trick-or-treat at the convent. That was another big event that we would remember,” said Joanna, who has included the Congregation in her will.
That special relationship was not limited to outside the classroom. Inside school, Joanna had great respect for the sisters who taught her, especially her eighth-grade teacher, the late Sister Marie Emmanuel Haugh. “She was a love. She was a real dear. I enjoyed her so much. The thing I appreciated most about her is she gave us algebra in eighth grade so when I went off to ninth grade I was all set. Algebra didn’t scare the daylights out of me!” said Joanna, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Loyola University in Chicago.
That drive for excellence as an educator obviously touched Joanna’s life. She spent 12 years teaching high school history in the Chicago area as well as one year in England. She then served 18 years as a counselor at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, a college prep school in Chicago.
Now retired, Joanna is similar to a Sister of Providence— she keeps active. She loves to bike and throughout the years has tallied many miles throughout the United States and Europe. Today she rides a Lightning P-38 recumbent bike. In addition, Joanna is a bird watcher. This hobby has led her to a couple of interesting activities. For two years, she volunteered with the Chicago Bird Collision Monitors and picked up injured birds in the Chicago Loop. She currently volunteers at The Field Museum in Chicago where she gives tours in the Bird Hall and works numbering bird bones in the science area for the Division of Birds.
Always a teacher, Joanna also teaches calligraphy at Moraine Valley Junior College, Palos Hills, Ill. This art she learned from her seventh-grade teacher, the late Sister Bernardo Tumidalsky. “We had calligraphy for art class. I think there was only one other person in the class that enjoyed it. All the boys grumbled. But we used the dip pen and the Speedball ink, and I really loved it. Then in the middle ’80s I started doing more. I used to do charts for the attorneys, particularly in the federal courts. Most of my work [today] is addressing envelopes for weddings. That’s fine for me,” said Joanna.
Just like a family, the Sisters of Providence played an important role in Joanna Hosteny’s life, long after her days at St. Leo Grade School. And like family, Joanna continues to care about the sisters by her financial commitment to the Congregation.