Auf Wiedersehen Sister Janet

I got news today that Sister Janet Luik, CSJP passed away in New Jersey.  She was a special person who made a lasting impression on me every time our paths crossed.  I feel blessed to have had her in my life just a little bit, and I know that she will be deeply missed at St. Michael's Villa, our east coast regional center and retirement center.

I last saw Sister Janet almost a year ago when I spent my "reading week" from CTU with our retired sisters in New Jersey.  Sister Janet and the other sisters made me feel right at home, as always. I will always picture Sister Janet sitting in her motorized wheelchair at the corner table in the refectory, ready to
The "wind-defying" umbrella
Sister Janet sent me
greet me.  When I was there last October, it was always a joy to head downstairs after a morning of catching up on my theology reading to find her shining face and bright eyes.  We had some great conversations that week.  She was so interested in what I was studying and how I found the city of Chicago.  One day we had a conversation about the "windy city," and I casually mentioned that I'd found it difficult to use an umbrella when it was so windy.  A few weeks later, I opened my mail box here at CTU to find that Sister Janet had gone out of her way to solve my problem. She had ordered a special umbrella for me that has a wind vent built in so it can withstand windy weather and still keep you dry.  It was such an unexpected surprise, and such a thoughtful gesture.  That was typical of Sister Janet.  I've thought of her many times since, every time I've used my trusty Sister Janet umbrella.  I am the beneficiary of her research and generosity ... it does indeed do well in the windy city.

I first got to know Sister Janet when I was a novice and volunteering one day a week at our hospital there.  On my hospital days, I took communion to the Catholic patients and always made a special point to visit any of our sisters or associates who were admitted.  Sister Janet was there for quite a while at one point and so I visited her weekly.  I must admit first of all that hospital ministry does not come easy to me, and I was pretty nervous about it all.  Perhaps that is why I so appreciated visiting Sister Janet.  She was the patient, but it was more like she was ministering to me, making me feel comfortable and at home.

I will never forget one conversation in particular.  She asked me about my family, my parents, my grandparents, etc...  Whereas many of our Irish sisters are quick to claim me via my Irish grandmothers, Sister Janet was quick to claim me via my German grandfathers.  You see, while I believe she was born in this country, her family was German and she spent some of her youth in Germany.  I can still hear her voice clear as a bell in my memory:  "Oh, if your grandfathers are German, than YOU are German!"  She said this with a smile and a certain gleam in her eye.

Auf Wiedersehen Sister Janet.  Your presence, wit, humor, and generous spirit will be greatly missed by our little community.  I often thought that you kept us on the straight and narrow and your compassion knew no bounds.  Thank you for the gift of your presence, the hospitality and welcome which you always gifted me with, your life of ministry and caring as a nurse and missionary, and of course, the umbrella. :)

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