Sister Janice Bohn, SNDdeN (formerly Mary James)

Sister Janice Bohn, SNDdeN (formerly Mary James)

January 17, 1943 — December 24, 2012


Janice Ann Bohn was born on January 17, 1943, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana to James H. Bohn and Nova Mae (nee Riggs) Bohn. She was baptized February 7, 1943, in Saint Patrick Church in Ft. Wayne and confirmed in Sacred Heart Church on March 10, 1952, also in Ft. Wayne. Janice attended St. Vivian elementary School in Cincinnati graduating from there in 1957. She graduated from Mount Notre Dame High School in Reading, Ohio in 1961.

It was her association with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur during her high school years which led her to enter their postulancy on September 8, 1961. On August 13, 1962, Janice became a novice and took Sister Mary James for her religious name until 1968, when she once again resumed her baptismal name. Her first vows were taken on August 13, 1964 and her perpetual vows on August 13, 1969.

Sister Mary James began a life of varied ministries for a period of 48 years. Her first ministry was at Our Lady of the Rosary School in Dayton Ohio, 1964 to 1965. While there she taught seventh graders and acted as catechist. From 1967 to 1971, Sister taught junior high students at St. Victor School in Calumet City, Illinois. She wrote that she was glad being involved in elementary education at St. Victor School, but already she felt that “our call involves education in a broader dimension especially with the poor."

During the summer of 1968, she had her first opportunity to test her perception of how she perceived her call as a Sister of Notre Dame. The summer she spent in Sonoyta, Mexico, gave her an experience about which she described as “one of the greatest educational experiences I have had”. From that time on, her remaining ministries mirrored her searching to find the answer she had posed to herself years before.

In 1971 until 1974, Sister Janice became involved in pastoral ministry and adult education in Igesia de la Sagrada Familia in Sonora, Mexico. The next 11 years her ministry did not change all that much as she worked twice in San Martin de Porres Parish in Phoenix and Blessed Sacrament Parish in Tolleson, Arizona.

Shortly after, another Hispanic ministry opened up for her when she was employed in the South Vicariate of the Phoenix diocese. Her interest in the Cursillo movement soon found her involved as Associate Spiritual Director at the Mount Claret Diocesan Cursillo Center also in Phoenix. Another opening occurred for her to serve as Pastoral Associate which involved Hispanic Ministry at Queen of Peace Parish in Mesa, Arizona, from 1987 to 1990.

In 1990 and until 1997, Janice was a member of the General Government Team of the Sisters of Notre Dame residing in Rome. During those years, Janice’s many varied services on the international level claimed her undivided attention. Surely there had to be some definite personal choices in where she served as liaison for the Congregation. Her visits took her to Brazil, Nicaragua, Peru, Japan and California. It was yet another immersion into some of the poorest ministries of Notre Dame. During those years, Sister continued her great interest in the Associate Movement and how it was becoming ever more important to Notre Dame. She became responsible for the Initial Formation of Associates and acted as their spiritual director. Sister Janice also served as facilitator for the 1992 general meeting of the International Superiors General, UISG.

The Sabbatical she pursued in Palo Alto, California in 1997 to 1998 prepared her for the last ministries in which she shared her expertise. The Associate Movement continued to attract her. She took the time to visit Peru and Nicaragua where she taught the newer members of the congregation. Janice also served as formation director.

Given the varied ministries in which Janice participated, one might wonder just how she was able to do so much so well. She earned her B.A. at the University of Dayton in 1967 and a Master of Arts from Boston College in 1985. During the previous years and those that followed she pursued many courses and workshops. The list is very extensive and indicates her wide interests. Included are many which provided her with such a comprehensive overview of the knowledge which ultimately prepared her to serve the poor of all ages in many ways. She studied to enable herself to do volunteer hospice counseling. She studied in order to become ever more effective as a counselor. She studied courses in Abnormal Psychology. She studied Popular Economics which seems like a strange topic, but probably was of help when she advised the poor.

Sister Janice grasped Saint Julie’s great challenge to her early Sisters that they were to be aware of what Julie had termed ‘Rapture in Action’. Because she did, Sister pursued those courses which fed her spiritual life. Many of the courses were in Scripture. Janice went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where she studied at the Center for Biblical Studies in Jerusalem. In spite of her busy days, Sister Janice became a woman of prayer. Her two great devotions included her love of Mary whose Sister she became, and her sense of the goodness of God.

Writing the Memorials of our Sisters at the time of their death is always a profound and bittersweet experience. Writing about Sister Janice who was also a student of mine at Mount Notre Dame High School was poignant as well. Even as a student it was impossible not to be aware of her enthusiasm for knowledge. Acknowledging her raised hand alerted one to the fact that at least two questions would follow.

During her stays after school I first learned of her devotion to Mary. Janice became a charter member of the Rosary Makers Club. She and her friends spent hours fashioning rosaries to send to the missions. As a teen ager she already was becoming familiar with the goodness of God and occasionally spoke of it.

It was much later during a Pilgrimage to Julie Land that we had some moments to share a mutual passion for Saint Julie and Notre Dame Institute History. That experience in visiting the places associated with Saint Julie deepened Janice’s deepest conviction about God’s goodness. In an undated publication entitled “God’s Goodness in Creation”, Sister Janice wrote:

How good! God IS!

God Is! This word speaks of the present moment, the eternal NOW. The great curve of space-time God brings to full circle in our present moment and in each NOW of human time, the revelation of Goodness. Every creature, every one of us, has a unique experience of living, individually and together, in the very center of God’s goodness.

In the beginning there was Good … And still is … And will be forever …

How good is the good God

As her Sisters of Notre Dame mourn Janice’s sudden leaving of us, we promise our prayers to Jane and Bob and their Families and Sister Janice’s many friends.


Sister Louanna Orth, SNDdeN
December 25, 2012