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Sister Jane Marie Osterholt

Editor’s note: Sister Jane Marie died from cancer on September 14, 2012. She was 68 years old.

Current ministry:General Officer

Years in the Congregation:49

Contact Sister Jane Marie at: jmoster@spsmw.org.

Q. What do you like best about Saint Mary-of-the-Woods? A. The peace, the serenity, the beauty.

Q. When I am not officially at work, or involved in ministry, you’re most likely to see me…  A. Being with people, or walking.

Q. On weekends, I love to… A. Relax, get caught up on all of the things I haven’t been able to do.

Q. I am passionate about…  A. Life, and God.

Q. What the world needs now…  A. Peace, and hope.

Q. Why did you choose to become a Sister of Providence?

A. When I was in high school, I met the Sisters of Providence for the first time. My homeroom teacher at that time was Sister Deidre Clements (RIP). Among the Sisters of Providence I had met at that time, she was the one who touched me the most because she was real. Other sisters I had experienced before that were a little standoffish. But Sister Deidre was real. She treated us in her class, each one of us, with a great love and a great respect. I thought then, “That’s what I want.” Not only did I meet her in high school, I would take my younger sisters over to meet her. She would play with us. I also lived with her in Loogootee (Indiana). I was teaching first grade and she was teaching high school. She had a great love for people and a great love for animals. She loved cats.

Q. What do you value the most about your ministry opportunities?

A. I think it has been bringing the Gospel to the point of peoples’ needs where they are, not where I want them to be. One of my ministries was being a catechist, sharing the word of God and of being in faithful mission. It was very important for me to take the teachings of the Church out of theoretical language and put them into common-sense language that people could understand. They could come to know the God that was within them, not just in a textbook.

Unconditional love is hard to grasp, but it is essential.
– Sister Jane Marie

Q. How do you put the teachings in common-sense lauguage?

A. I believe it’s how you treat one another. It’s spending time with them. It’s walking next to them. It’s being with them in their happy times as well as being with them in their sad times. It’s showing them that God loves them no matter who they are or what they do. Unconditional love is hard to grasp, but it is essential. I believe that is what God calls each one of us to do. And, that’s what Providence invites us to do, to be with people where they are so they can discover better that God is in them so they can share with other people.

Q. What have you learned from your ministry experiences?

A. I learned that there is a great hunger to know God. There is a great desire to make God real in our lives. Too often in the Church, we have used theoretical language, language that is so difficult. You have to make it real for people. My experience in hospital ministry is that people definitely need others to walk with them, to pray with them. So much healing takes place inside. When we are healed from the inside, then we can be healed from the outside. My ministry here, as a general officer, is to be present with the sisters, to be aware of the Congregation as a whole, how we see God’s Providence, and how we are with each other living out the traditions given to us by Mother Theodore . It’s also how we are with our publics. It’s a different type of spreading God’s word. It’s seeing it through a different lens.

Q. Why would a woman today find religious life an attractive life choice?

A. I believe that God continues to call women today, and, yes, it is a challenge, but it also is saying yes to that deepest part of God inviting you to live out your baptismal promises, that it’s about how we share God’s love and God’s life with others, and that is what religious life is about. How do we do that today? How do we do that with others in community? It’s about sharing that common journey, praying together and sharing the word of God with one another, and within our ministries.

Q. What role does prayer have in your life?

A. It’s essential. If I did not take the time every day to be in touch with God in my life by reading the scriptures, by praying with them, by simply being quiet, I can’t hear God speak to me. There is so much of me there, I can’t hear God. So, how can I do God’s work? Prayer is essential for me. The Eucharist is the root. Participating in the Eucharist gives me the strength that I need. It’s through prayer, the Eucharist, the sacraments that I am who I am today.

Q. How much influence does Saint Mother Theodore Guerin have in your life?

A. She has a great influence. Several years ago, I gave a workshop in the Diocese of Evansville. I was sharing about Mother Theodore, and, afterward, the teacher/catechist came up to me and said, “Did you really know her when she was alive? You talk about her like she was your best friend.” I said, “No, I never met her personally, but after coming to community and reading her Journals and Letters, she is alive to me.”

Q. So, what actually called you to be a Sister of Providence?

A. It was after I received my First Communion. My family is German Catholic and we would go to church all the time. We would say the Sorrowful Mother novena every Friday. I remember being in the church. I don’t remember the occasion, but I remember sitting there and talking to God and remember hearing this voice, “Come and follow me.” I thought about what that might mean. I remember the sisters I had in school saying that God invites us to him. At that time, I didn’t think much of it, but I thought, “OK, I’ll follow.” The more I know about children now, it was probably an innate sense that I had at that time that God was calling me and I couldn’t put it into words.

Q. What is the most important thing in your life right now?

A. Prayer. Relationships. Community. Prayer has to be the root and foundation of who I am. Relationships are how I come to experience God’s presence in other people. Community is, indeed, how we reflect Providence in on another and to the world.


Food: Fresh homemade baked bread, hot out of the oven (my mom’s, or her mom’s).

Flower or plant: Pink and white, or red and white, poinsettia.

Book: The Bible.

Movie: The Sound of Music.

TV show: What Would You Do?

Vacation spot: Canada.

Hobby: Photography.

Music/song: Classical.

Pizza topping: Pineapple, ham, mushrooms and cheese.

Scripture passage: Micah 6:8 – “This is what Yahweh asks of you only this: to act
justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.”

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Sisters of Providence

The Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, are a congregation of Roman Catholic women religious (sisters) who minister throughout the United States and Taiwan. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin founded the Sisters of Providence in 1840. The congregation has a mission of being God's Providence in the world by committing to performing works of love, mercy and justice in service among God's people.

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