L to R: Therese Wetta, Renee Kirmer, and JoAnn Mark, Circa 1980s

By Sister JoAnn Mark, ASC

Three years ago at this time, I made a decision to leave my life in Wichita for a challenge in New York where I knew no one. I had been on the board of a struggling nonprofit that was about to collapse unless someone did the hard work of pumping it with new life.

On Easter Sunday, April 5, 2015, I packed up the car and left all that was familiar — my home, my work at Newman University, my Sister community and other friends – for a life that was at once challenging, fulfilling, exciting and lonely.

Since then, I have been leading the rebuilding of the Partnership for Global Justice, a non-governmental organization of Catholic religious, groups and individuals who promote policies aimed at improving the status of the world’s poor. It’s much stronger now with new membership, board members and connections to Molloy College in Rockville Centre, N.Y. It’s a good organization to hand over now to a new executive director.

I’m not sure exactly what’s next for me, but I do know it’s time to close this chapter and return home to Wichita. Coincidentally, my time here in New York will end on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018. This chapter in my life’s journey will have come full circle.

Throughout this three-year passage, as always, I’ve been faithful to prayer and watching for signs and listening to the desires of my own heart and staying attuned to the nudging of the Spirit.

One big sign was a nasty fall on the ice in February that resulted in a broken femur – and a rod to repair it — on the same leg that was weakened from childhood polio. It’s been a slow recuperation; I still walk with a cane down the cavernous halls of the expansive United Nations compound on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Another sign was learning that I’d have to move from a Long Island rental house that has been my anchor. Sure, I could find another place, and figure out the commute to Manhattan once again, but with commuters getting stuck in the East River tunnel and having to put up with the New York city subway’s infrastructure problems, the commuting thing was starting to feel like a hassle.

The third sign came earlier this fall. My dear friend, Sister Renee Kirmer, ASC, an active, engaged woman who seemed in good health, had a stroke, and died a few days later. I was stunned and heartbroken by the news, which came only a day after Renee and I had had a good conversation by phone.

The day before Renee died, when she lay in a coma, I experienced this intense and deep communication and bonding with her. I felt that even in that state, Renee knew she didn’t want to endure all the difficulties of mortal life, so she decided to go to God.

There was something about losing Renee that added urgency to my desire to return to Wichita and my life with my sisters.

Did Renee personally lead me to that decision? Probably not.

Our relationship was such that we trusted each other to find the way that was best.

But it is the path I have now chosen, and I have felt good about the decision. God is good. Things work out. God takes care of his angels and his fools, and you know which one I am!

As a younger sister, I’d always prayed the Divine Providence prayer, asking God to take care of this and that. But now I realize that God takes care of me each day. Looking back, I could trust that God took care of me, sent someone who looked out for me, helped me. It’s unbelievable how good God has been.

  • How have you felt about decisions you’ve made in your life recently?
  • Do you trust that God will look out for you?
  • What are some ways that God has taken care of you, or sent you to take care of others?
  • Are you attentive to the signs in life that lead us to our next steps?






3 thoughts on “Living by Signs”

  1. Thank you JoAnn for your beautiful and personal sharing. I ponder your questions and I hold you in prayer at this time of transition.

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