Since the time that she entered first grade Jeanne Vucic, SCN, knew she wanted to be a Sister, and that she wanted to help people find deeper meaning in their lives.
Sister Jeanne left home after eighth grade to attend Vincentian High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. An aspirant at age 13, she became a postulant in her senior year. Sister Jeanne made first vows two years later.
For many years, Sister Jeanne taught high school foreign language and she was very happy in that role. At a point in her life she wanted to touch people more deeply, so she decided to enter pastoral ministry at St. Casimir Church in the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio. Sister Jeanne has been there for the last 29 years.
“I am now teaching the children of the children that I taught when I first came to this parish,” she says.
Sister Jeanne keeps very busy with many roles in pastoral ministry. Preparing students for Reconciliation, First Communion, Confirmation, training lectors and eucharistic ministers, and leading scripture study are all part of her religious education role in the church.
Sister Jeanne also plays the organ, often in two parishes, and trains the choir and cantors.
And keep going she does, visiting hospitals, nursing homes, and about 20 people who are homebound. One of the most important aspects of home visits for Sister Jeanne is bringing the Eucharist to people.
Sister Jeanne greets parish member Tony Boiarski at his home during a Eucharistic visit.
Opening homes and opening hearts
“In the beginning there were no house numbers, so the only way I could find out where someone lived was to know where this other person lived, and then count down the number of houses,” recalls Sister Jeanne.
Now she knows this community very well, and she says that what touches her most is that people don’t just open their homes, they open their hearts. “They are willing to share stories and tell you about their families,” she says.
Sometimes people don’t want her to leave after a home visit. It may be one of the very few visitors they have in a while, says Sister Jeanne. “It’s very humbling to experience that openness that they have. My original intention of doing ministry with people in a more meaningful way has certainly borne fruit.”
She recalls helping a woman who was very confused about where she was, even though she was in her home. Sister Jeanne comforted her and tracked down her son on his cell phone. “A lot can happen — you just want to be an instrument to provide help,” she says.
The economic realities of the area are evident. Employment options are dwindling since the heyday of the coal mines. Sister Jeanne keeps going with a smile on her face. “I never thought I would be here this long, I could retire, but I want to go on as long as I can,” she says.
Sister Jeanne feels at home on the Church organ in St. Casimir.