Present, strong, kind, firm, dedicated, supportive, protective and faithful are words used to capture the spirit of Sister Jane Theresa Bannon, a Sister of Saint Joseph for sixty-four years. These words came from many who knew Jane.
Relationships are integral to our congregation’s mission to live and work that all may be one, moving always toward profound love of God and neighbor without distinction. Jane’s earliest relationships were with her parents, Loretta and Edward and her siblings, Ann and Jim. Jane’s faith was nurtured as she attended Immaculate Heart of Mary School and St. Brendan’s High School in Brooklyn. After high school, Jane entered the congregation and for her entire religious life lived in a spirit of simplicity and gratitude. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from St. Joseph’s College and a Master’s in Administration and Supervision from St. John’s University.
A faithful Sister of St. Joseph, Jane was involved in the congregation in so many ways. But at the same time, she cared deeply for herfamily. All were the recipients of cards for every significant occasion because Jane never forgot.
Jane shared her gifts as an educator, guide, and sports fan at St. Pascal Baylon, St. Ambrose, Holy Name in Brooklyn where her mother could easily visit, Bishop Kearney and for thirty-nine years at her beloved Stella Maris as Math Teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal for sixteen years. Never really leaving Stella in so many ways, she returned to be the Director of Development.
To say Jane’s life had a major impact on Stella Maris is probably the understatement of the year. That impact was most powerful in the lives of the faculty, students and alumnae she touched. Words flooded Facebook when the Stella community heard of Jane’s death and Geri shared some of the posts: supportive, kind, strong, a model who transformed lives, an inspiration, a listener, helped girls become strong women and attended all of the games. All who knew Jane knew her dry humor. As I read so many tributes posted about Jane, it was obvious that she created a legacy that will endure into the next generation of kind and strong women.
What enabled Jane to be the positive influence she was in so many lives? The answer is in the relationships that sustained her, her family, her devoted and life-long friends Geri, Joan, Lionella, Rose and Grace her companion in community for twenty-six years. They shared so many good times together and were there for each other in the difficult ones, especially through her unexpected and difficult last illness. But Jane’s most powerful relationship was with her loving God. She knew God accompanied her through life’s entire journey as the words of Isaiah promise:
“You are precious in my eyes and glorious, and because I love you, fear not I am with you.” It was clear to her in everyday circumstances and especially during the precious days she spent at the abbey in Weston.
Grace shared a reflection she found in Jane’s papers, dated September 5th. It was on the lines in Psalm 90 that say:Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
We will find wisdom, the Psalm says if we count our days correctly. Counting our days makes us much more appreciative of each new day as a precious gift. That is the wisdom the psalm promises and it goes on to say “Wisdom advises us to fill each day with good works, prayer and kindness and to place all the days of our life in the hands of God who controls all time and eternity. This is the real lesson Jane has taught us all. Thank you, Lord, for all of the days of Jane’s life.
Sister Jane Theresa Bannon, CSJ died on September 5, 2018 in the 64th year of her religious life.