Late on Saturday 23rd May God called Joan to the fullness of life, after a long illness. Joan was 88 years old, and had been in the Society almost 65 years.
Born in 1931 in Pershaw, Co Durham, Joan was the eldest of three sisters. Her father's death, when she was still a small child, and the family's loss of income, cast a long-lasting shadow over what was otherwise a happy childhood in a loving, close-knit family. They moved to Sunderland, where Joan attended a grammar school run by the Sisters of Mercy, before going to our teacher training college in Fenham, Newcastle. This was her first encounter with the Society, and sparked the beginnings of a sense of being called to religious life. After teaching for a few years she entered the noviciate in September 1955, shortly before her 24th birthday.
Joan made her first vows in March 1958, and, after some theological studies was missioned to Malta, where she taught until went to Rome in 1963 to prepare for her perpetual vows, which she made in February 1964. She then returned to Newcastle, where she taught part-time in the grammar school whilst also assisting in the bursar's office. After four years she was missioned to Roehampton, where she worked as the bursar for Digby Stuart College. She continued being a bursar, here and then back in Newcastle, until 1991. Joan was a reserved woman with a very methodical, meticulous nature, and this essential, though "back room" role suited her far more than teaching.
In 1991 Joan was given a sabbatical year, which she spent in Boston, following some courses at the college. She thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity, and the new experiences it offered her, and made some lasting friendships. Back in England she was appointed superior of a small community of elderly sisters in Bexhill. When this closed in 1995 she moved to Hayes, and then back to the North East, before returning to London in 2000, to be part of the Province's hospitality community. In each of these communities she continued to take on the role of bursar, taking responsibility for paying bills and looking after the community's accounts and contacts, and taking pride in ensuring everything was done as meticulously as possible.
In 2006 Joan moved into active retirement in Hayes, and then six years later to New House, opposite Duchesne. Ill health meant that in 2017 she moved across to Duchesne, where she took part in community life for as long as she was able. As her health gradually deteriorated was lovingly cared for by the staff and sisters, who accompanied her on her long, final journey to God.