September 2008: SISTER JANET EBBEN (entered eternal life on January 12, 2016)
The Ebben farm
Born on August 20, 1918 in Kaukauna, WI to Henry and Mary (Huven) Ebben, Sister Janet is the fifth of 11 children. Her father was a mail carrier and dairy farmer, and the family’s life was filled with hours of riding horses, milking cows, and helping with the farming chores.
Noon-time recess brings a powerful moment
As early as the 5th grade, Sister Janet knew that she wanted to be Sister. “I remember one occasion when two of my classmates and I went into the Church to pray during our noon recess. I knelt before the statue of St. Theresa and felt an urging in my heart to be a Sister. I kept this a secret until I graduated from the 8th grade,” she explained. That August, she got a job of cleaning the kitchen at St. Vincent Hospital, Green Bay, and lived in the girls’ home at the hospital. In this environment of seeing the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis caring for the patients, she began to think more about her calling to religious life and ultimately decided that this was the Community she wanted to join.
From Green Bay to Springfield
And so on February 2, 1937, she left Wisconsin and entered St. Francis Convent, Springfield, and immediately enrolled in Convent’s St. Francis High School.
She later graduated from St. John’s School of Nursing and held medical/surgical nursing responsibilities at St. Elizabeth’s (Belleville), St. John’s Crippled Children’s Home (Springfield), St. Joseph’s (Highland), St. Joseph’s (Chippewa Falls), St. Nicholas (Sheboygan), St. Vincent (Green Bay), Alverna Home Nursing Center (Chicago), Sacred Heart (Eau Claire), and at the Motherhouse.
So much more than an employee
In May 1948, she was assigned to St. Mary’s (Streator), and in 1950, she hired Mary Ann (Kosley) Horaney, a high school student, and they worked together afternoons and weekends on the surgical floor of the hospital. “I was 16 years old and have never forgotten what she taught me in my orientation. She told me to ‘treat your patients like you would like to be treated,’ and in my 30 years that followed as an employee at St. Mary’s, I did just that.” Although Sister Janet left Streator in 1956, she and Mary Ann have corresponded over the years. “I am 72 years old now, and Sister Janet continues to be the most loving, caring, and thoughtful person in my life,” Mary Ann said.
Words of wisdom
For Sister Janet, she has learned that “it is good wisdom to always do the will of God, be fervent in your prayer, and forgive people. Most of all, try to get up each day with a positive attitude and walk with God with an assurance of His love.”