Sister Mary Jo of Jesus Obituary
Little sister Mary Jo
April 27, 1932 - April 15, 2017
Born in France
Resided in Nome, AK
As a very young woman she was active in a Catholic Action group which brought her into contact with a religious community- the Little Sisters of Jesus. Founded during WWII, this community was growing rapidly. It already had a community founded in North America with the Native people of the Arctic in Alaska. Mary Jo's dream was to live among these people to learn their culture and to share, informally with them the love of Jesus for them and their semi-nomadic culture.
She joined the community early in the 1950s and, after brief introductory training in France, was sent to Montreal, Quebec where the community already had a foundation. It was in Montreal that Mary Jo took the next step in her religious life- the novitiate. Upon completion of her training she was sent in 1959 to the community if Nome, Alaska. There she was with the core group of sisters in Alaska who built, over a period of three summers, the sisters' cabin on Little Diomede Island.
Mary Jo spent almost her entire adult life in Northwest Alaska. She learned the subsistence skills of the King Island women in Nome and the Diomede women if the Island. She was an expert skin sewer and was often asked to help sew the walrus skins for the skin boats. She also learned to understand and speak Inupiaq, this in an era of no grammars or dictionaries of that language. She taught herself with the Elders.
Mary Jo helped to found the community in Anchorage in 1989. She worked a few years in Anchorage at a shoe store. Upon retirement, she was active in the Native Ministry, visiting the hospital and the jail and enjoyed developing a vegetable garden in our backyard.
In 2009, she began experience brief episodes of Cognitive unconsciousness. A few years later she needed nursing home care. She lived in nursing homes for six years receiving excellent care. Abruptly, on April 11th her health declined sharply. She was called to her personal Pascal event on Holy Saturday-April 15th surrounded by members of the community.
We want to remember her love for life, for all people and all of God's creatures. We wish to especially thank the staff of the assisted living homes who provided her with such excellent care.
There will be a memorial Mass on Friday the 21st of April at St. Anthony Parish; 825 Klevin Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99508.
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Anchorage, AK 99508