Born to Life
January 25, 1947
August 1, 1966
Born to Eternal Life
November 14, 2020
St. Rose Cemetery
Sister Jan Guenther was born in northeastern Nebraska in the town of Crofton. She attended St. Rose of Lima Church and the church elementary school where our beloved Sister Paulea was a teacher.
After graduating from the public high school, Sister Jan moved to Milwaukee and attended Alverno College. She then moved to Omaha, lived in what subsequently became New Cassel senior residence, graduated from Creighton University (50 years ago), and then taught in the Omaha Archdiocese for several years.
Jan took a break from teaching and attended graduate school at Seattle University for chaplaincy studies and a focus on needs of persons returning to the Catholic Church. She described exhilarating summers and participation with various ministries, including those located in Estes Park, Colorado, Mississippi, and New Orleans. For several years, she participated in guitar Masses with the advent of the Dameans, St. Louis Jesuits, and other Church musical offerings.
After completing her master's degree in Seattle, Sister Jan joined Sister Kathleen Kluthe on the staff at Resurrection Parish in Tempe, Arizona. She ministered to hospital patients and families, retirees, and the parish women's and returning Catholics groups. When the pastor wanted change, the nuns all left and Sister Jan became the chaplain down the block in Mesa, Arizona for Sunquest, the Banner Hospital rehabilitation and senior resident facility. She became a Eucharistic Minister at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Paradise Valley. She then pursued additional chaplaincy studies and was subsequently employed at Desert Samaritan Hospital.
After a time, Sister Jan felt called by her great love of teaching. She secured Arizona credentials and returned to elementary school employment at St. Mary Basha School in Chandler. She was an energetic, creative, immensely popular and very effective teacher. The student progress documentation demonstrated that a beloved, fun teacher could also compel great student progress. Her spring student plays packed the house. She was particularly proud of a number of former students who chose to become teachers.
After many enjoyable and fulfilling years in a supportive school community, the School Sisters of St. Francis leadership pressed Jan to accept a position ministering to community members of numerous states in transition of living arrangements and work and volunteer activities. She moved to Omaha but traveled extensively. After a time, she accepted work as full-time chaplain at New Cassel. She expanded non-Catholic religious access, increased community involvement, and relished relating to residents, family members, and staff.
She was greatly disappointed when physical health later dictated that she relinquish full-time work. She then became a resident at New Cassel, but she continued trying to be active in outreach to all residents. Jan suffered from a succession of medical conditions that further compromised functional capacity and occasioned falls and injuries. She successfully pursued rehabilitation a number of times. After relocating to Milwaukee in August this year, her condition progressively deteriorated, and she passed November 14.
Sister Jan was predeceased by her parents and two older siblings. Jan's sister Della died several years ago, and Ernestine died in 2019 at age 87. Jan is survived by three older siblings, Lois, Donna Mae, and Donnie, and one younger sibling, Daryl. All reside in Crofton. She also has an enormous family of nieces, nephews, and cousins who maintain contact and regularly visit one another.
Written by Associate Sandra Day