“At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by, ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me, I was homeless and you took me in.’” Those words of Mother Teresa sum up the way that JoAnn Kaelin Jones wanted to be remembered. At the memorial celebration of her life, it is indeed the way that people spoke of her.
JoAnn died on June 23, 2011, at Hospice Ministries in Ridgeland, Miss. JoAnn was a member of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth from 1958 until 1973. Her last teaching assignment in the Congregation was at St. Clara School in Yazoo City, Miss., in 1969. It was there that JoAnn’s commitment to working for social justice deepened, and she became active in the civil rights movement. She felt compelled to devote her life to serving the people of Mississippi. After leaving the SCN Congregation, she continued to serve as an educator in various capacities. JoAnn married Gwinn Jones, her “soul mate” in 1992. JoAnn said that he completed her life. He passed away in 1997. JoAnn was the librarian in Magnolia, Miss., from 1994 to 2006, when she retired.
A Mass of Resurrection was celebrated in St. Vincent Church at Nazareth, Ky., on Aug. 20, 2011, and in Chatawa, Miss., on Sept. 17, 2011. During a time of sharing of memories at Nazareth following Mass, her sister, Mary Jane, read a letter that JoAnn wrote to her and her sister, Rita, prior to her death. She wrote, “I have tried to devote my life to those most in need, to those less fortunate, to the ‘underdog’, to those who have so much going against them. Therefore, I wish that my death and my will reflect these intense and soul-filled desires.”
As a member of the SCN Legacy Society, JoAnn named the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth as a beneficiary in her will. In the letter read at Nazareth, JoAnn wrote, “I would like for you to disseminate the message of this will. The purpose of this would be to give others some ideas about the use of their money and material possessions after death – whether the estate is large or small. I wish to plant ‘seeds of sharing’ in the minds of others, certainly not to give any praise or credit to myself. I will be gone from this earth.
The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth gratefully acknowledge JoAnn’s generosity – during her lifetime and at the time of her death. Julie Driscoll, SCN, summed up the feeling of many when she shared, “At a time when others were uncertain where to stand on the racial question, JoAnn was clear and caring and she has remained a witness to many of us throughout her life. Her gentle presence and obvious commitment to justice remains a powerful legacy for us all.”
The SCN Legacy Society was formed to recognize and say thank you to individuals who have chosen to make a difference in the lives of others by including the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth in their estate plans. SCN Legacy Society members are individuals who have named the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth as a beneficiary in their will, of a life insurance policy, retirement benefit, or charitable trust. If you have the SCNs in your estate plans or if you would like more information about this, contact Leslie Wilson, Director of Development, at (502) 348–1551 or firstname.lastname@example.org.