Sister Janet Hughes

Sister Janet Hughes

Sister Janet Hughes SNDdeN
January 16, 1931-January 17, 2019

May our good Jesus live in us!  Let us live only for him, only for him, my dear good daughters.  Let us love above everything to accomplish in all things his adorable will in us all.  Then we shall be happy in this world and in a blessed eternity. Amen! (Letter 229, St. Julie Billiart, Foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur)

Janet Ann Hughes grew up with her six siblings in St. Alexander Parish, Villa Park, Illinois. The parish was only a few years older than Janet herself, and she watched it grow as she grew. It was at the parish school that Janet met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Their simplicity of life made a life-long impression on Janet, and through the Sisters God planted a seed that would later bear fruit. 

After graduating from high school, Janet found a job in a Chicago bank doing stenography and secretarial work. Five years later she found herself looking for something more to life. She felt God was calling her to serve others and live a simple lifestyle. How could she respond to that call in a way that would be balanced with her contemplative nature and desire to spend time in prayer? Janet went to talk to the Sisters at St. Alexander. Was God calling her to be a Sisters of Notre Dame? The Sisters encouraged her to “come and see.” Janet accepted the invitation and entered the community on February 2, 1955 at Mount Notre Dame. 

Janet entered whole-heartedly into religious life as a postulant. With the other women in the group, she began to learn about the spirituality of the Sisters and found it resonated with her own. As a novice, Janet was given the name Ann Raymond. She was known by that name until she returned to her baptismal name in 1969. As Sister Ann Raymond, she prepared to teach. She would spend 20 years serving in various elementary schools around the Ohio Province teaching 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades. Janet also served as librarian at St. Peter Canisius Parish School. While she was good at teaching, Janet was never entirely comfortable in the classroom. 

With the rest of the Sisters of Notre Dame, Janet embraced the call to renewal from the Second Vatican Council. She enjoyed learning more about St. Julie Billiart, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Janet wondered if she could find a way, outside of the classroom, to live Julie’s example of living a contemplative life in an active ministry. When Sisters were given the chance to choose how they would minister, Janet asked for and received permission to brush up on her secretarial skills. After a year of study, she was hired by a company of international patent & trademark patent attorneys. Janet loved the work. She didn’t even mind the commute into downtown Chicago, which she called her “ministry on the CTA” (Chicago Transit Authority). Janet provided a listening ear to those who shared her commute, and she faithfully took their concerns and troubles to prayer. After working 18 years for the attorneys, Janet worked for Christian Brother Services for 11 years. 

Everywhere Janet ministered benefitted from her attention to detail, her organizational skills, her quiet presence and her genuine interest in and care for those around her. She shared those same skills in parishes where she worshipped as she served on Liturgy and Worship commissions, in the parish choir, and as Eucharistic Minister. For many years Janet was also part of a small faith community and involved in preparing meals for the homeless. She felt each person she met enriched her life, and Janet prayed that somehow her presence enriched them in return.

In Community Janet was known for her graciousness, loyalty and compassion. She took a genuine interest in her Sisters and didn’t like to claim attention for herself. Janet loved a good discussion, listening to music, singing and reading. She enjoyed simply being with Sisters, family and friends. As introverted as she was, Janet loved celebrations. For her 50th Jubilee celebration as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur, she stepped out of her comfort zone and spoke at each Sunday Mass of her experience: 

50 years ago today… I was nervous, excited, joyful and afraid—all at once. Since then, I have known these emotions, and many more,

  • As I walked into a classroom as a teacher for the first time.
  • As I came to know and share my life with other Sisters of Notre Dame.
  • As I learned so much more about God, my Faith, prayer and service.
  • When I realized that the spirit of our foundress, St. Julie Billiart, was something I was beginning to embrace.
  • When I took my first and final vows at Mount Notre Dame in Cincinnati.
  • When I made a decision to leave teaching and turn to other ways of service.
  • As I began to live and work outside convent walls.
  • I thank God for being patient with me and loving me so much as to give me the great gift of a vocation with the Sisters of Notre Dame.  It has meant allowing God to draw me, in spite of my resistance, to a greater love, and simplicity, and service to others.

Janet went on to thank all the people who had been part of her life, including her family for their love and support. She later shared how glad she was her jubilee provided an opportunity for a family reunion. “My brothers and sister, who came from California, Minnesota, Indiana and nearby said, ‘Thank you for the party, bringing us together to share family – past present and future.’” For many years she lived near some of her family, and she felt the distance from both family and good friends when she moved to Cincinnati in 2008. Words were never adequate to express Janet’s humble gratitude to her relatives, and her good friend Sister Rose Mary, who made it a point to come to Cincinnati for visits. Janet’s community was also grateful as they enjoyed getting to know Janet’s family members and Sister Rose Mary. The SNDs especially appreciated the stories that were shared helping the community know Janet more fully, and Rose Mary’s faithful presence with Janet and us as we journeyed Janet’s last days. Now, as Janet’s Sisters, family and friends gather to celebrate Janet’s life, it is our turn to give thanks for her long life of making known God’s goodness to each person she met. May we follow her example of simply and joyfully living the words of Colossians 3:17: And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 

Bio Data
Born on January 16, 1931 in Chicago, Illinois
Parents: Raymond C. Hughes (born in Chicago, Illinois) and Lillian V. Leonard (born in Chicago, Illinois)
Siblings: Raymond Hughes, Gerald Hughes, Leonard Hughes, Robert Hughes, Michael Hughes 
and Catherine Hughes Funk

Baptized on February 8, 1931 at St. Mel Church in Chicago, Illinois
Confirmed on November 20, 1944 at St. Alexander Church, Villa Park, Illinois

Entered on February 2, 1955 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: August 13, 1957
Final Profession: August 13, 1962

Bachelor of Science in Education from Our Lady of Cincinnati College, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1967

Assignments Included:
1957-1959 St. Stephen School, Hamilton, Ohio
1959-1961 St. Robert Bellarmine School, Chicago, Illinois
1961-1965 St. Michael School, Sharonville, Ohio
1965-1967 Most Holy Trinity School, Phoenix, Arizona
1967-1977 St. Peter Canisius School, Chicago, Illinois
1977-1978 Student, Metropolitan Business School, Felician College, Chicago, Illinois
1978-1996 Clerical Work, Ladas & Parry, Chicago, Illinois
1996-2007 Religious Medical Mail/PPO clerk, Christian Brothers Services, Romeoville, Illinois
2008-2016 Community Service, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
2016-2018 Ministry of Prayer & Presence, Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Died: January 17, 2019 at Mt. Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
January 18, 2019