Sister Jean Anne Blust, SNDdeN

Sister Jean Anne Blust, SNDdeN

Sister Jean Anne Blust, SNDdeN

October 3, 1933 - December 26, 2023
Link to Funeral Live Stream / Recording

Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)

John and Lillian Blust welcomed their first child, a daughter, in 1933. They baptized her Mary Cecilia at St. John Catholic Church in Middletown, Ohio. Two years later John was born, seven years after that William (Bill) was born and their family was completed. Mary and her brothers grew up in St. John Parish and attended the parish elementary school. Mrs. Blust had fond memories of being educated by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at Notre Dame Academy in Dayton, Ohio. She was delighted Mary could receive her secondary education from the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at Notre Dame High School in nearby Hamilton, Ohio. Mary was enrolled and began her high school education there in September, 1947. 

As Mary got to know the Sisters who taught her, she was impressed by their simplicity and how they related to each other and their students. By the time she was finishing high school, Mary was pretty sure she was called to be a teacher. She also felt called to be a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. Mary entered the community on September 7, 1951, with a group of very diverse women. They were of different ages, from different places, with different gifts and levels of life experience. Their common faith, call to Notre Dame and desire to serve united them as life-long friendships were formed among them. The decades that followed their entrance day took them in many different directions to serve in many different ways. Opportunities to spend time with each other were always looked forward to and filled with strengthening bonds and laughter. 

It was when she entered the novitiate that Mary received the name Sister Jean Anne. She was known by that name for the rest of her life. Shortly after professing her vows Jean Anne was missioned to teach second grade. She spent the next 10 years teaching first and second grade in parish schools in Wyoming, Hamilton and Dayton, Ohio. Toward the end of the 10th year she was asked to complete a survey about her ministry. Jean Anne said, “I enjoy working with children and believe that teaching, on any level, is a wonderful opportunity as well as a challenge.” She also made it clear that she would like the opportunity to teach other grades to be able to watch children develop and learn how to guide children at different levels. The following year Jean Anne was missioned to St. John, Logan, Ohio. Three years later she was missioned to St. George School in the Corryville neighborhood of Cincinnati. 

During these years there were enormous changes taking place in the field of education. There were also enormous changes taking place in religious life and in the Church as the renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council began to take place. Experimentation with ungraded education began, more educators trained in Montessori methods and then adapted them to other settings in the hope of better meeting the needs of diverse students. Sisters were given more opportunity to shape decisions about what they studied and where they served instead of just being assigned. The Sisters were encouraged to go back to the writings of St. Julie Billiart, Foundress of the Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. Jean Anne resonated with St. Julie's desire for her Sisters to teach the children what was needed for life, to see each child as a manifestation of God's goodness and to serve the good God with much liberty of Spirit. All of this certainly shaped how Jean Anne answered the question when another survey came her way. Her responses show her unwavering call and commitment to formal education, especially early childhood education for children trapped in poverty. Jean Anne’s responses also expressed an interest in earning a certificate in Montessori, wanting to experiment with ungraded classes, a plea for a reduction in the number of pupils per class and for more teacher aides, and made the case for introducing programs to involve parents more directly in the education of their children. Jean Anne also expressed interest in living in a smaller community. Up to that point every community she was a part of was at least a dozen Sisters except St. John’s in Logan. There she was one of four. Jean Anne joined the Summit community with the rest of the Sisters teaching at St. George when she was missioned there in 1968. The Summit community numbered close to 100!

The leadership of the community took Jean Anne's thoughts seriously. In 1969 the opportunity arose for the Sisters to establish a small community on Vine Street not far from St. George. Jean Anne and four other Sisters teaching at St. George were missioned to form that community. Vine Street was Jean Anne’s community until she moved permanently to Mount Notre Dame Health Center in 2022. Vine Street continued to be the home of her heart even as she entered fully into life at Mount Notre Dame.

Another request leadership heard was Jean Anne’s desire to be trained in Montessori. During the 1971-1973 academic years she was assigned to split her time between teaching at St. George and at the Summit where she gained experience she needed to complete her Montessori Certificate for ages 3-6 from Montessori Society. However, she did not have a chance to use those skills on a day to day basis because of another need she was asked to fill. In 1973 Jean Anne was asked to begin serving as Principal of St. George Parish School. That ministry meant she was involved in Parish Council, St. Vincent de Paul and Parish Community Affairs Committee, the School Board and in 1976-1977 she was also involved with the ministry team at St George Newman Center for the University of Cincinnati. Jean Anne was also involved in planning for other parish schools to join with St. George Parish School to form Corryville Catholic which was to open at the beginning of the 1978-1979 school year. She was relieved that the new school would have a new principal as she stepped back into the role of classroom teacher at St. Joseph Parish School. Jean Anne served at St. Joseph for four years and then returned to Corryville Catholic in 1982 as Assistant Principal and Teacher. 

What was her role as Assistant Principal? In 2015 Jean Anne received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from Stephen T. Badin High School (the successor school of Jean Anne's alma mater Notre Dame High School). The tribute to her included in the booklet published for the dinner at which she received the award described her work at Corryville:

    ... her efforts were not limited to administration. If the cook was not there to prepare breakfast, Sister Jean stepped up. If someone forgot to pick up their child, Sister Jean looked after them. If the school was badly in need of additional income, it was Sister Jean who initiated a regular bingo fundraiser. If a child needed some special help, Sister Jean found a tutor. If the school needed someone to help with bookkeeping, Sister Jean handled the duties. If there was a grant opportunity, Sister Jean took care of the paperwork. Sports teams? Sister Jean found coaches to take the helm.
    In finding a way to fulfill these needs, Sister Jean was instrumental in encouraging two generations of children to further their educations in Catholic high school and beyond. For so many of these families, that was a first. Sister Jean was there with a hand up.
    Even after her retirement, Sr. Jean did not really retire. She continued to work every day in the school’s office as well as provide fundraising assistance. ...
    Sister Jean Anne Blust has worked tirelessly to fulfill the needs of children through her calling to do God’s work. Badin High School is proud to honor her with a Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.

Jean Anne continued to do what she could to support the families, faculty and staff at Corryille Catholic School through her physical work, prayers and moral support the rest of her life.

The same genuine interest in each individual and liberty of spirit that can be seen in Jean Anne's ministry were also a part of how she lived community. Many Sisters were part of the Vine Street community over the years. Jean Anne valued each one. In particular Sister Mary Ann Zwijack and Sister Judy Tensing who, together with Jean Anne, were the Vine Street Community for decades. The three did not all serve in the same ministry, but they all served the same part of the population. They often pitched in to help one another with needs that arose. They structured (or unstructured) their community life together to support all the ways they reached out to help those in need. They knew each other's families and friends and walked with each other through the joys and sorrows of the journey of life. They were also a part of the life of the Ohio Unit through participating in Assemblies, Vow and Jubilee celebrations, holiday celebrations, meetings, discussions and much more. 

Jean Anne had a gift for listening deeply and enjoyed a good discussion. She liked to read, listen to music, watch TV, and in her younger years she enjoyed gardening. When she came to Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Jean Anne took every opportunity to join in card games of various kinds. She was a regular at the Sunday night Yahtzee table where she inevitably scored at least one Yahtzee. Most of all Jean Anne enjoyed being with people she loved. Her family members were especially dear to her and time enjoyed with them through the years were precious and cherished moments of her life. . Each one was a unique gift of God’s goodness to her. Jean Anne was so delighted that family members could join in the community celebration of her 90th birthday and we know she appreciated their supportive presence during her last days.   

“Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” is the response for the Mass for December 26. How fitting it was that members of the Vine Street community, the band of women she entered with and her family were all with Jean Anne that evening as she lived those words. Now, as we, her Sisters, family and friends gather to celebrate her life, we give thanks for all the ways Jean Anne made known God's goodness to each of us. We give thanks for the gift she has been to so many whose lives she touched. We trust in her continued love and prayers for us as she is embraced by our good God. We ask her to pray for us, that we may follow her example and "...act and do everything with great liberty of spirit in God and for his greater glory." (St. Julie Billiart, Letter 164)


  • Born October 3, 1933
  • Parents: John B. Blust (born in Hamilton, Ohio) and Lillian C. Blust (born in Miamisburg, Ohio)
  • Siblings: John Blust, William (Bill) Blust
  • Baptized at St. John Catholic Church, Middletown, Ohio
  • Entered: September 7, 1951, at Mount Notre Dame, Reading, Ohio
  • First Profession: March 12, 1954
  • Final Profession: August 12, 1959


  • Bachelor of Science in Education from Our Lady of Cincinnati College, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1961
  • Master of Education in Administration from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1986

Assignments Included:

  • 1954-1960 St. James Parish School, Wyoming, Ohio
  • 1960-1962 St. Joseph Parish School, Hamilton, Ohio
  • 1962-1965 Immaculate Conception Parish School, Dayton, Ohio
  • 1965-1968 St. John Parish School, Logan, Ohio
  • 1968-1978 St. George Parish School, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • (1971-1973 also served at the Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • 1978-1982 St. Joseph Parish School, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1982-2015 St. George Parish School, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 2015-2022 Community Service, Vine Street, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 2022-2023 Ministry of Prayer and Presence, Mount Notre Dame, Reading, Ohio
  • Died: December 26, 2023 at Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Sister Kim Dalgarn, SNDdeN
 December 28, 2023