Sister Janice Thome, OP (Dominican Sisters of Peace)
Consecrated life: Serving a ‘wider group
of people in a greater variety of ways’
Sister Janice Thome, OP, serves with the Dominican Sisters Ministry of Presence and Teen Parent Educator-Parents as Teachers.
SKR: Why did you enter the religious life?
Sister Janice Thome, OP: I entered religious life because of the attraction it held as a very different lifestyle. There was a curiosity as to how the Sisters I knew could be happy in such a life. There was a sense that God might be calling me to this life and I had to try it out in order to know if it fit for me.
SKR: Why did you chose your particular congregation?
Sister Janice: I was taught by Dominican Sisters in grade school at St. Peter, Schulte. I had cousins who were members of the religious communities in Wichita. I had visited them at their motherhouses. In eighth grade the seven girls in our class went to Great Bend for a vocation day. The lightness and openness of the motherhouse impressed me. My seventh and eighth grade teacher, Sister Rosalia, was a happy woman, as were my cousins. I wanted to be that kind of a person if I was a religious. SKR: What have been your greatest challenges as a religious?
Sister Janice: Within religious life, the greatest one was the great number of my peers and those older than me leaving after Vatican II. I remember questioning what they knew that I did not. Why was I feeling still called to religious life when they were not?
In ministry my greatest challenges are journeying with persons in crisis with no way to help them change the situation:
A senior in high school whose girl friend aborted their baby;
A lady with four diagnosed mental illnesses who needed several surgeries but could not do what it took to prepare her physical health to have the surgeries;
Children in abusive situations who end up in foster homes that are not much better.
The other great challenge is to live a balanced life so that my ministry does not overshadow my spiritual and community life.
SKR: What have been your greatest joys?
Sister Janice: When a troubled teen contacts me years later and says, “I am now happily married, involved in my church and it is you who gave me the hope that I could be a better mother than mine was.”
When the child I drove to repeated specialist appointments for their medical conditions is able to walk normally or function at a higher level in their disability than the doctors predicted because the follow up was done.
When a teen mother or father tells me their worries about their ability to parent and I am able to help them name the ways they are doing so well for their child, I know that this releases them to parent yet more positively.
When I know that my weekly visits in a home where the stress level is high because of economic strains, helps resolve some of the problems-thus there has been no physical abuse for eight years.
SKR: What kind of ministries have you been/are you involved in?
Sister Janice: I taught students from grade 3-12 (my favorite grades were seventh and eighth and eleventh and twelfth) for 26 years. In our diocese I taught at St. Patrick in Great Bend, St. Boniface in Sharon and St. John in Hoisington. I was administrative assistant in our community for three years and on our council for eight years. I have been in our Dominican Sisters Ministry of Presence, a direct ministry with the economic poor, in Garden City since the fall of 1996. I do the latter half time and am a Teen Parent Educator with Parents as Teachers for USD 457 half time.
SKR: Please offer a quote that makes a statement about the value of religious life for you.
Sister Janice: “Anyone examining the life of ministerial women Religious in the United States today should have no difficulty recognizing their choice of and commitment to the pattern of life to which Jesus called his original band of itinerant disciples.” This quote by Sister Sandra Schneiders names for me why religious life exists. To live as Jesus the all inclusive love (chastity), the focus on God as the value of my life (poverty) and to be obedient to God’s will is the goal of my life.
Another way to say it is that while I believe I could have been a good wife and mother, I feel that religious life has called upon every gift and talent God has given me in a way that no other life style could have. Religious life calls me to be involved with a wider group of people in a greater variety of ways. It allows the freedom to serve without as many ties. For example: I have gotten calls that a child needs to be taken immediately to Wichita for possible surgery that same day. Within 45 minutes I was able to pick them up and get on the road.