Roberta Stracensky, known as Bobbie, was the oldest of nine children born to Nicholas and Margaret (Pacanosky) Stracensky. Their home in the Slovak neighborhood of St. Wendelin’s Parish was the place where faith, culture, and lasting bonds were nurtured. Since Roberta was taught by the Notre Dame sisters in elementary school, she continued her education at Notre Dame Academy on Ansel Road. Aware of her call to religious life, she planned to enter the novitiate after graduation, but a diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis resulted in several years of treatment and a delay in pursuing her vocation. As she regained her health and strength, Roberta began studies at St. John’s College, Cleveland and earned a bachelor’s degree in education in June 1955. She became a postulant on September 8, and at investment received the name Sister Mary Janelle.
Her teaching ministry spanned 29 years, mostly in primary grades, at schools in Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina. She spent five years at schools with the Sisters of Notre Dame in England. An excellent teacher, she said that she wanted to give the children the best they could receive. After retiring from full-time teaching, Sister Janelle remained eager to serve others. For 30 years she generously ministered in parishes and in the SND community as receptionist, sacristan, and PSR teacher. She was a Pastoral Visitor at Heather Hill Care Communities in Chardon for 13 years. She devoted many hours to the SND Prayer Line ministry, assuring the callers that their requests for prayer would be remembered as she wrote their intentions in a large notebook.
She was good at connecting people—keeping family members together, and sending greeting cards and notes to a vast circle of sisters and friends. A welcoming smile and calming presence characterized her, despite personal health challenges. In the busyness of life, she was grounded in God.
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