JUNE 2004: SISTER MARY JO SCHULTE (entered eternal life on May 7, 2017)
On a spring morning in 1940 in Quincy Illinois, Mary Johanna Schulte was born. Mary Johanna was named for a devout Lutheran nurse who had assisted her grandmother. She was the first child in a family that grew to include two girls and six boys. "Mom Schulte" still muses that she was smart to have her two daughters prior to opening her "Home for Boys" by having six sons. "Jo," as the family nicknamed her, attended St. Mary’s Grade School and Notre Dame High School.
The Schulte family was deeply Catholic in a practical, everyday sort of way.
Drawn to Religious Life
From this background of a Catholic family and from the involvement in parish and diocesan youth activities, Mary Jo began to consider religious life—after letting go of the ideas of being a police officer or a psychologist.
In September 1958, Mary Jo entered the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis, feeling called both to the Franciscan way of life and to a ministry other than teaching.
Sister Mary Jo completed her novitiate and professed her religious vows on September 8, 1961. Soon she was enrolled at Springfield Junior College taking basic humanities courses. Later she studied at Marillac College in St. Louis where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing.
Specialty: Psychiatric Nursing
After a few years of general medical-surgical nursing, Sister Mary Jo returned to graduate school at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Here she earned a Master of Science degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing and a minor in political science. She practiced psychiatric nursing as a clinical nurse specialist for nine years. Sister Mary Jo was also Dean of Students and Assistant Director of St. John’s School of Nursing in Springfield, Illinois for seven years.
Becoming a Community Leader
Following this position, she served the Community in Provincial leadership for another seven years. After completing her terms on the Provincial Council, Sister Mary Jo spent some sabbatical time at Shalom Prayer Center in Mt. Angel, Oregon. While there, she studied at Mt. Angel Seminary, the seminary for the diocese of Portland, Oregon.
After the sabbatical, Sister Mary Jo accepted the position of Geriatric-Psychiatric Counselor for the Intercongregational Health Project in Dubuque, Iowa. The Project demanded both psychiatric knowledge and Community life experience. The Project served several communities of religious women in the Dubuque area.
Sister's Present Ministry
Presently, Sister serves as a nurse counselor for the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque. Sister Mary Jo has been in Dubuque for nearly eight years, and when she is not working, she reads, experiments with new recipes, and shares food and care with her neighbors. She enjoys writing letters in long-hand to friends and participating in the life of her parish in Dubuque. The constant change in religious life holds future challenges for Sister Mary Jo as she, too, changes by reaching a mature age. She muses that she, too, has nursed the sick as did the Christian woman whose name she shares.