Sister Mary Jeanne Hayes
Chicago, IL 

"I have done some things, but there's more to do."

Sister Mary Jeanne Hayes volunteers as an English as a Second Language instructor one day a week at the Dominican Literacy Center in Chicago, IL.

If you ask Sister Mary Jeanne Hayes if she’s retired, you get a one-word answer: no.   

“I don’t say retirement,” she says. “I say getting paid for two days a week.”

The employer who pays her is St. Ita Catholic Church in Chicago, where she’s worked since 1999, sometimes in a part-time role, sometimes full-time.

“I’ve done basically everything in the parish,” she says. She’s taught Bible study, taught RCIA, visited shut-ins, visited the sick, delivered Communion. Along the way, in these past twenty years, she’s earned a Masters of Pastoral Studies at Loyola University. Her title at St. Ita is part-time Pastoral Associate. She’s held the same position full-time.

But now, she says, in this part-time non-retirement, she has time for other things. For one, she volunteers one day a week at the Dominican Literacy Center, where she teaches English to Spanish speakers. (“English,” she says, “is a terrible language to learn if you don’t already know it!”)

 “I entered [religious life] to become a teacher. But when you look at my time in Notre Dame, I taught for seven years. I was a principal longer than I was a teacher. Then the Order needed nurses, so Ibecame a nurse. I loved that the best, I think, taking care of people, seeing them get better.

“Each time I’ve done something, it’s backed by what I’ve done before. And in the last twenty years, I’ve been able to put that all together.

“Some people retire and don’t know what they want to do. But there are a number of things, projects so to speak, that I want to do, and I have time for them.”

These projects, for Sister Mary Jeanne, are sometimes recreational. She loves to bowl, and to scrapbook, and to read. But some projects, too, are serious, and tie back to her teaching, and her desire to take care of people.

“I would like to work with people with developmental disabilities,” she says, and she’s currently exploring ways to make that happen.

“I have done some things,” she says, “but there’s more to do.”