Sister Joan Wagner

Sr. John Bosco

“She sets the standard when it comes to humble service and unselfish devotion.”


Sister Joan Wagner, SDS, (formerly Sr. John Bosco) has a reputation as the-jack-of-all-trades at Holy Family Regional School in Huntsville, Ala. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise in light of her longtime ministry there. Nor should the scholarship fund named in Sr. Joan’s honor when she marked 42 years of service in back 2011.

The Holy Family School Foundation and MEVATEC Foundation hosted a reception where they announced the scholarship program. School Principal Patricia Kuhn says Sr. Joan would not normally want such attention, but she readily embraced the opportunity to serve her beloved community. In Sr. Joan’s own words, “I would do anything to help our school and help individual students who want to come to Holy Family.”

“The Sister Joan Wagner Scholarship Initiative so purely reflects Holy Family’s mission,” says Patricia Kuhn. The scholarship helps to ease the financial burden of attending Holy Family Regional School, which offers faith-based academics for families of St. Joseph, St. Mary of the Visitation, and Our Lady Queen of the Universe parishes.

“It’s no wonder that most people who have passed through our doors remember Sr. Joan,” says Patricia. “Alumni always ask, ‘Is Sr. Joan still there?’ We are proud to report that she remains here, quietly serving and faithfully fulfilling her mission to meet the spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional needs of children in a diverse and Catholic environment.”

Sr. Joan entered the Sisters of Divine Savior in 1952. She began her ministry at St. Joseph’s Parish School in Huntsville in 1969. She taught first grade there for 27 years before shifting into the role of administrative assistant about 18 years ago. Sr. Joan continues to interact with all the school children at Holy Family, and her principal says, “She sets the standard when it comes to humble service and unselfish devotion.”

Sr. Joan taught 896 first graders over the years – 363 at St. Joseph School and 533 more after the named changed to Holy Family.

Lay Salvatorian Claire Williams has worked with Sr. Joan for more than 20 years, first as school secretary and later as business manager. Sr. Joan was Claire’s sponsor when she became a Lay Salvatorian in 2000. When the idea was proposed to honor Sr. Joan with a scholarship, Claire jumped on the bandwagon.  “Sister is known and loved by so many people in Huntsville. We are very proud here at St. Joseph’s to be a Salvatorian parish. Our parish was founded by Salvatorians in 1952, and Sr. Joan has been the longest serving Salvatorian in Huntsville. She is such a model of humility, hospitality and quiet faith in God.”

Sr. Joan reflects on her longtime ministry saying, “My years at Holy Family School have been a wonderful and exciting adventure with Jesus our Divine Savior, God the Father, and many wonderful people. I have been very blessed, indeed.”