Born Joan Marie to Joseph and Agnes (Schroeder) Recker in Leipsic, Ohio, the fourth of eight children, she attended St. Mary School before becoming an aspirant at Notre Dame Academy, Toledo. Having made her vows in 1960, she began teaching grade seven at Christ the King School, Toledo. The next year she became the Aspirant Directress, the first of many years as a formator of the young women considering religious life. She taught at Notre Dame Academy and Notre Dame Extension College 1964-74 before becoming a postulant directress in 1974 and novice directress in 1976. Like the foundress, Sister Joan believed “the dear God has always taken care and will continue to do so” as she took on the role of Provincial Superior of the Toledo Province in 1988, a leadership position of nine years. After a sabbatical renewal in Sangre de Cristo Center in Santa Fe, Sister became Chancellor for the Toledo diocese, but within three months was elected to the General Council in Rome and then re-elected for a total of 12 years. Returning to Ohio in 2011, she was a team member at Lial Renewal Center in Whitehouse. Described as a “contemplative in action,” she was a spiritual director until 2021. She moved to St. Clare Commons in Perrysburg in 2021 and later to Rosary Care Center in Sylvania, where her suffering became her prayer. At the end of every visit the visitor heard “I love you.”
Throughout her life she took seriously the commandment “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). She was a woman of deep prayer, exceptional listening and sensitivity, a person who looked for the best in others. Imbued with the charism of the Sisters of Nore Dame, she lived and imparted to many the witness to God’s provident care. Her ability to articulate and live the charism aided her in writing a commentary on the Constitutions of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Hers was always an increased desire to live the charism authentically. Sister shared the good news of the gospel that God, whom we desire, desires us even more passionately. God longs for us with the longing of the Lover for the beloved. In her death, Sister Joan felt that longing fulfilled.
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