Sr. Jane: A Grateful Look Back

One of the main things I like about getting older is that there are more memories to call on.  In June, I will complete 12 years with the Jordan Ministry Team, and before moving on to another form of service, I think it’s a good time to recall and thank.

Over 12 years, I’ve learned where the best “wayside” picnic tables are to stop for lunch on Highway 77 in route to San Carlos and Highway 79 toward Florence.  I’ve visited more Dairy Queen’s than you’d want to hear about and know which service stations on I-10 toward Phoenix have the cheapest gas, freshest donuts and cleanest restrooms.

I’ve taught certification classes in three parish center storefronts in Coolidge, Globe and Clifton, and trained EM’s at St. Mary’s Hospital in a room next to the roof helicopter pad when a plane came in. I’ve slept in abandoned and occupied rectories, small town hotels and the homes of generous parishioners in Green Valley and Yuma.  (I was often grateful I’d been a camper earlier in life.)

I was often part of pre-retreat clean up and learned how to pack for early morning chill in the mining areas and late summer heat in Yuma.  I’ve used state-of-the-art equipment in one Catholic school and wished I’d brought a tape player to another. I’ve had tours of parishes renovated to express the culture of their people and begged God for a financial boost for others that had not seen anything new in decades, it seemed.  I’ve sat in first grade chairs for a class in one school and used a swivel bar stool for a discussion in another.

But these are not the most important things I recall.  I’ve seen people get a “brainstorm” about Jesus in the middle of a class.  I’ve experienced someone else get the answer to a burning question they’ve waited years to ask. I’ve met pastors who really care and others so worn or lonesome they live in a bubble.  But greatest of all was the hunger I sensed from adults who seek knowledge of God, not just an accumulation of facts.  I’ve seen people renewed in their love of Eucharist or newly appreciative of Catholic prayer and practice. I’ve watched some realize the necessity of doing justice to be faithful Catholics. I’ve been with people from small towns who work full time but would not miss a Saturday religious education class even if the household chores have to wait. And finally, I’ve met directors of religious education and principals whose self-sacrifice is a sure sign they understand what “servant leadership” is all about.

What a harvest of memories!

By Sr. Jane Eschweiler, SDS

This column first appeared at

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