Sister Joanne Schneberger SNDdeN
November 10, 1929 – February 11, 2022
“Our life will never be long enough to thank the good God because he is good and his mercy is eternal.”
(Letter 330, Saint Julie Billiart, Foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur)
Anna Marie Schneberger grew up in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur when she was at Notre Dame High School, Moylan, Pennsylvania. When she felt God was asking her to live her life serving others as a vowed religious, it was to the Sisters of Notre Dame that Anna turned. Talking to the Sisters about her desire was one thing, but talking to her parents was another. Her father was not Catholic and was not thrilled with her plans to become a Sister. It became clear to Mr. Schneberger that the path Anna was choosing brought her peace, so he supported her decision. Anna and her parents traveled to Ilchester, Maryland, for her entrance into the community on August 10, 1947. The happiness of the day was marred only by Anna’s sadness at leaving her beloved brothers behind.
With the other young women who entered the community with her, Anna prepared for the ministry of teaching. As a novice she received the name by which she was known for the rest of her life: Sister Joanne.
The day after she pronounced her vows, Joanne was sent to teach at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal School in Brooklyn, New York. Thus began 15 years of teaching 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th grade students in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Washington, D.C. Joanne spent three of those years teaching special needs children. During those years she also finished her undergraduate studies.
August of 1965 brought Joanne a mission to St. Bernadette School in Philadelphia. She was assigned to be both Principal of the school and Superior of the Notre Dame community. It was a ministry that required more than administrative abilities. It also required someone who could work with a variety of people, call forth the gifts of others, listen well, advise, and make hard decisions when necessary. The four years Joanne served at St. Bernadette were years of tremendous change in the Church, in education, in society and in religious communities. In 2015 Joanne was reflecting on her life and shared, “I think one of the things I’ve learned through the years is that you really can move through all of these changes… if you take them one by one, with the grace of God. It’s not a big deal.”
It was certainly with the grace of God that Joanne said yes when she was asked to serve on the Formation Team for the Maryland Province of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1969. The ministry required many of the same skills as her roles at St. Bernadette, but this time the work was internal to the community. In 1969 there were more than three dozen women in various stages of becoming Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council meant how these women were formed also needed to be updated and re-grounded. Joanne spent five years working with other members of the Formation Team on programming and procedures and with the women in formation themselves. She later said it was one of the most fulfilling of her ministries.
After her term on the Formation Team finished, Joanne studied full-time to earn her graduate degree. She then returned to formal education, this time in the role of Counselor at the Academy of Notre Dame, K Street, Washington, D.C. Joanne also served as Principal of the Academy for a year before spending a year in the Education for Parish Service Program at Trinity College. She spent a summer working with the homeless and then began another internal ministry. This time it was using her administrative abilities to serve the Maryland Province during a time of intense change. Joanne also served as Administrative Assistant to the U.S. Catholic Mission Association before returning to education.
In 1995 Joanne joined with other Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to open Notre Dame Education Center (NDEC) in Washington, D.C. The center focused on individual programming with adults. Joanne said, “At the Notre Dame Education Center our aim was to do what was needed. It became obvious that, in order for children to be able to function at their best, there was a need for services to adults who were significant to the children. Our adult program began and we did what was necessary for these adults to earn a high school diploma. Both adults and their children benefitted. There was a need also to teach English to speakers of other languages and so we did that too.” The work at NDEC used many of the gifts Joanne had developed during her 40 plus years of ministry. She served as Co-Director of NDEC throughout its existence. Joanne was deeply touched by the faith that seemed to fill the adult learners that came to NDEC. In spite of what seemed like overpowering circumstances, one after another acknowledged the goodness of God all the time. Joanne did her best to help them amplify that sense of God’s presence and goodness with them in all they experienced.
When asked what her favorite ministry was, Joanne replied, “I can’t say. I really am one of these people who has really loved every place she has been. They’ve all been home to me.” At the time of her 70th Jubilee she reflected, “Through the various ministries that were assigned to me, I have had the privilege of meeting remarkable, good people both in the Congregation and outside of it.” Joanne saw her various ministries as shaping her into the person God created her to be. She was very aware that the Sisters she lived with in community also helped shape and form her. She was profoundly grateful. Joanne was also grateful for the opportunities she had to travel. She loved to travel! In 2007 she shared she had “…been privileged to walk on Holy Ground in the footsteps of St. Julie and Mother St. Joseph; to trod in the places made holy by the blood of Oscar Romero, the American Church Women and the Jesuits and their companions in El Salvador; the concentration camps in Poland. All of these experiences have shaped my life.”
Like her experiences in ministry and traveling, Joanne was very aware of how her experience in community shaped her life and helped her continue to grow. Joanne was a welcoming presence in the communities where she lived. She was active in Province and Congregational life and took an interest in individual Sisters near and far. Joanne enjoyed good conversation, keeping up with current events in the world, and delving into new areas of spirituality and theology. She knew how important a strong support system was for quality of life and deeply appreciated the Sisters, friends, coworkers and family who gave her support. Likewise Joanne could be counted on when people turned to her for a listening ear, or for company during times of relaxation.
In 2007 Joanne wrote, “How can I make a return to our good God for all that He has done for me? Sixty years of blessings, of successes and challenges, of beginnings and endings, of receiving and giving. My life has truly been touched by my Sisters with whom I have lived and worked and by the good people of the ministries in which I have been privileged to serve… For this and all that has gone before, for my Sisters, my family and my friends who have journeyed with me, THANK YOU.” Now, as her Sisters, beloved family and friends celebrate her life, we thank God for the gift of Joanne’s entire life and the many ways she made known God’s goodness to so many. We ask her prayers for each of us to be open to God’s grace and love on our continued journeys.
You have been told, O mortal, what is good, and what the LORD~requires of you:
Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)
- Born November 10, 1929, in Philadelphia, PA
- Parents: Joseph Schneberger (born: Philadelphia, PA) and Anna Applegate (born: Philadelphia, PA)
- Siblings: Joseph Schneberger Jr. and John Schneberger
- Baptized on December 1, 1929 at St. Cyril of Alexandria, East Lansdown, PA
- Entered: August 10, 1947 at Ilchester, MD
- Professed First Vows: February 10, 1950
- Professed Final Vows: July 30, 1955
- Notre Dame High School, Moylan, PA, 1947
- B.S. in Education, Trinity College, Washington, D.C., 1964
- M.A. in Counseling, Antioch College, Columbia, MD, 1976
- 2/11/1950-8/31/1954: Teacher, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Brooklyn, NY
- 1954-1959: Teacher, St. Eleanor, Collegeville, PA
- 1959-1962: Special Education Teacher, Kennedy Institute, Washington, D.C.
- 1962-1964: Teacher, St. Anthony, Florence, SC
- 1964-1965: Teacher, St. Jerome, Hyattsville, MD
- 1965-1969: Principal/Superior, St. Bernadette, Philadelphia, PA
- 1969-1974: Coordinator & Formation Work, Maryland Province, Ilchester, MD
- 12/1/1974-8/31/1976: Student, Antioch College, Baltimore, MD
- 1976-1985: Counselor, Academy of Notre Dame, K Street, Washington, D.C.
- 1985-1986: Principal, Academy of Notre Dame, K Street, Washington, D.C.
- 9/1/1986-5/1987: Education for Parish Service Program, Trinity College, Washington, D.C.
- 5/1987-8/15/1987: Unit Clerk, Christ House, Washington, D.C.
- 9/1/1987-8/31/1992: Administrative Team, Maryland Province, Ilchester, MD
- 10/1/1992-6/30/1995: Administrative Assistant, US Catholic Mission Association, Washington, D.C.
- 7/1/1995-6/30/2009: Co-director, Notre Dame Education Center, Washington, D.C.
- 6/30/2009- 12/10/2010: Community Service, Taylor Street, Washington, D.C.
- 12/10/2010-4/20/2021: Ministry of Prayer, Villa Julie, Stevenson, MD
- 4/20/2021-2022: Ministry of Prayer and Presence, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, OH
Died: February 11, 2022, at Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, OH
Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
February 15, 2022