Sister Joan Slobig (formerly Sister Denis Mary)
A reading from 1 Corinthians 13:12-13
For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.
Now I know only in part, then I will know fully,
even as I have been fully known.
And now, faith, hope and love abide, these three;
and the greatest of these is love.
My life has been one filled with abundant blessings and some challenges along the journey. I chose the scripture quote that was just proclaimed because, in many ways, it reflects the curiosity that I have always had about what the life of a Christian after death will be like. Now, hopefully, my curiosity has been satisfied, and I see the One, who has called me by name, face-to-face. Curiosity has been a part of who I am all of my life, said Sister Joan Slobig (read by Sister Kathleen Leonard) in the commentary for Sister Joan Slobig, formerly Sister Denis Mary, who passed away on Sunday, August 16, 2020, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 77 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 56 years.
Sister Kathleen continued reading Sister Joan’s words: I was given life on January 21, 1943, because of the love of my parents, Frances Owens Slobig and William A. Slobig. My twin brother and I were the fifth and sixth children with John being the youngest by 45 minutes! Our three older brothers, Willie (Bill), Robert (Bob), and Frank (Butch), welcomed our older Sister, Mary Judith (Judy) five years before us. The B’s and the J’s as we affectionately called ourselves grew up on the south side of Chicago in a traditional Irish Catholic home. The exception to the “Irish through and through” was my paternal grandfather Slobig, who was a Dutchman, something my paternal grandmother Letitia, who was born in Ireland, never let us forget.
My curiosity about life was fostered by my parents. My father, an avid reader, gave me a love for learning. One of my earliest memories is the day that I was able to get my first library card. You couldn’t get one until you could print your own name. At 4 years old, I was a faithful patron at the Homewood Public Library, and later worked there. My mother instilled in me a sense of justice and compassion toward others. Many of the men who hopped the freight cars knew that a hot meal awaited them at our house.
Our family dinner table discussions were lively and covered a range of topics from religion to politics to whatever the current issues were. All six of us attended Catholic grade and high schools. Our parents made many a sacrifice to make this possible. Our parish, St. Joseph, in Homewood, Illinois, was central to our faith life as a family.
My first introduction to the Sisters of Providence came from my great uncle, Monsignor Francis Purcell, who founded Quigley Seminary, and then went on to become the pastor of St. Mel on the west side of Chicago. Visits to him always included a visit to the convent.
My high school chemistry teacher had graduated from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, and brought several of us to visit the Woods as juniors. I knew then that I wanted to attend the College and once again, my parents sacrificed to make that possible. Curiosity about religious life grew during those years, and I joined 49 others in entering the Congregation on September 12, 1964.
My academic life is a reflection of what happens when you are curious. My undergraduate degree was in math, and as a Sister of Providence, I earned a master’s in English at Indiana State University, and one in theology from Washington Theological Union. The greatest gift of the Congregation was the opportunity to earn a licentiate in clinical psychology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
My ministry life also reflects where curiosity and Providence can lead one. Ministries have included high school teaching and administration; college admission and faculty member; Director of Formation (I think I still hold the record of 11 years!); counseling at an interfaith counseling center; Congregation leadership; administrator of St. Ann Medical Clinic; and finally, parish leadership as a Parish Life Coordinator for the last 14 years.
I have loved every ministry and have found my curiosity for life nurtured and challenged by all of them. The tread that binds it all together is my belief in, and love for, Providence. Writing about Providence has been an integrating principle of my adult life. It has drawn me closer to the God whose plan for me, with its many twists and turns, has been just right!
My life has been blessed with a faith-filled family who always has my back, friends who have stood by me through all the adventures of my life, companions in ministry who have offered their wisdom and support, women whom I am privileged to call my sisters. I have relished the opportunities that I have had to never let go of my curiosity about life – this, and the next – and to live more deeply the mystery that is Providence. As a life-long learner, I have been constantly intrigued by the new insights that each phase of my life has given me. Growing up in a family that loves to laugh and to just be together, is something I have cherished. As a member of the Slobig clan and the family of Providence, I have known love in abundance. As I see what it is that God has in store for me now, I ask for remembrance in your prayer. My life has been one wonderful adventure!
Funeral services for Sister Joan took place on Saturday, August 22, 2020, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana.
A Virtual Wake took place at 10:30 a.m., followed by Funeral Outside Mass at 11 a.m.
Memorial contributions may be made in Sister Joan’s honor to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Joan in the comment section below.
Here is a link to view the funeral services for Sister Joan.
Sister Joan Slobig (formerly Sister Denis Mary)
In Washington, D.C.: Teacher, Immaculata Prep (1968-69).
In Illinois: Librarian/Teacher, Providence St. Mel, Chicago (1969-71); Director of Instruction, Mother Theodore Guerin High School, River Grove (1975-77); Counselor, Samaritan Interfaith Counseling Center, Naperville (1994-96).
In Indiana: Admission Councilor/Coordinator and Dean of Admissions, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (1971-75); Director of Novices, Sisters of Providence; Assistant Professor, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (1980-86); Director of Formation, St. Joan of Arc, Indianapolis (1986-90); Director of Formation, Indianapolis (1990-91); General Councilor, Sisters of Providence (1996-2001); Parish Life Coordinator, St. Mary’s Village Church, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2005-2020).
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