Sister Janet Zwickl C.S.J.

Sister Janet Zwickl, CSJ
June 19,1922 – November 17, 2006

Those who instruct others into justice
Shall shine as the stars of heaven for all eternity.
Daniel 12:3

Nature’s summertime welcome had not quite reached the farmlands surrounding Lidgerwood, North Dakota, on June 19, 1922, the day that Julia Rose Theresa was born. Julia, the daughter and seventh child of Mary Deutsch and Vincent Zwickl, had a happy childhood, growing up with three brothers and four sisters on the farm. The Zwickl children attended St. Boniface Parochial School and Lidgerwood Public High School.

At the age of nineteen, Julia entered the Novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph in St. Paul, Minnesota. As was customary in those years, she received her religious name, Sister Janet, on the feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 1942. On the feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1947, Sister Janet pronounced her final vows.

With her first mission to St. Mark’s School in St. Paul, Sister Janet launched an engaging ministry in Catholic education as an elementary teacher for the next tweny-three years. As a dedicated professional, Sister Janet taught at the Cathedral, St. Leo, St. James, St. Louis, St. Luke and St. Mary School in St. Paul;at Good Shepherd, Christ the King, St. Kevin, Nativity of Mary, Ascension in Minneapolis; as well as at St. Eloi, Ghent; St. Michael, Grand Forks; St. John Academy, Jamestown; St. Pius X, White Bear Lake. Each new situation had called for great flexibility, constant availability and generous service. In reflecting upon all these missions, Sister Janet readily admitted that she loved teaching everywhere.

In December, 1954, Sister DeLourdes, the CSJ primary supervisor, visited Sister Janet’s classroom in Jamestown, North Dakota. In her written evaluation of the teaching/learning experiences, Sister DeLourdes identified several areas of excellence: evidence of many activities designed to motivate children to think, plan and appreciate their class work; creative art that was educationally attractive; excellent oral reading skills; the children’s poetry expressed in art. No wonder Sister Janet loved teaching; she knew the value of motivation and praise.

As for her formal education, Sister Janet held a Teaching Certificate from the Diocesan Teachers College and a Bachelor’s Degree, with majors in education and history, from the College of St. Catherine. All through the years, she continued to develop her personal gifts in art, poetry, music and creative writing. Her last adventures in the field of education were positions in teaching English as a Second Language at the International Institute in St. Paul, and tutoring Vietnamese, Korean, and Cambodian adult students.

In 1979, when ill health forced her to retire from teaching, Sister Janet turned her attention and creative gifts to writing. She carefully collected all of the poetry she had written since high school. Following a crash course in publishing, she organized the contents and created the book cover which features her own paintings of a rosebud on the front cover and a fully opened rose on the back cover. Her book entitled, An Element of Hope and a Reason to Believe, describes human experiences and God’s handiwork. Readers have related well to her poetry which captures the beauty and simplicity of everyday life.

In the introductory section of this book of poetry, copyrighted in 1986, Sister Janet included the following message:

This book is dedicated to all who read it with a prayer that
they will always live in the “Springtime of All Their Todays.”

In the springtime of April, 1993, Sister Janet came to Bethany – bringing with her those rose-covered copies of her treasured book.

Sister Janet died peacefully at Bethany on Friday, November 17, 2006. The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in the Bethany Chapel on Monday, November 20, 2006.

Sister is survived by her sisters – Clara Kastner, Lorraine Halsey and Kathryn Duerr; her brothers, Ed and Jim; many nieces and nephews and the Sisters of St. Joseph.

May she rest in peace.