Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletSeptember 24, 2017

Sisters' Stories

Sister Jeanne Marie Gocha, CSJ


Going with the Flow of God’s Call to Carondelet

“Jeanne Marie, go with the flow!” Those were God’s words to me as recounted in the summer of 1999 by a second grader in the school I was leaving to become a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. I was the principal of St. Mary’s School in Shrewsbury, MA, and was leaving my ministry and home there to go “home” to join the Sisters of the Albany Province in Latham, NY. I am one of the “newer members,” as we are called, entering the community some ten years ago, and I have been going with the flow of God’s great love ever since.
 
My years here in Carondelet have been blessed with many wonder-filled experiences that are part of answering the call to religious life today. As a candidate, I took a “tour of the Albany Province” and got the opportunity to meet our Sisters from Albany to Syracuse, Utica to Binghamton. I taught two years at Catholic Central High School, Troy, NY, where I witnessed first hand the wonderful tradition of CSJs in education there. Though only there two short years, I join the cast of thousands who stand proud when they begin to sing the alma mater, “Here’s to our old CCHS…” The flow of this call to Carondelet had placed me right in the midst of good women who carry on a 350+year tradition of bringing to life our charism of unity and reconciliation in all ways that woman is capable.
 
Upon entering the novitiate in 2001, I became part of the wider world of being a Sister of St. Joseph when I spent eight months in our CSSJ Federation Novitiate. As part of a collaborative endeavor with all the Joseph congregations here in the United States, I joined nine other women in our year of canonical novitiate in Framingham, MA. Our ages ranged from 27 to 52, and we came from all over the country as well as Norway! Over the course of those eight months of formation, we developed bonds of friendship and support that only get stronger with time. We have been able to get together several times since our novitiate days, attended each other’s vow ceremonies, and even went on retreat together, including our Sister from Norway! This October the last Sister in our group will be making her final vows in Baton Rouge, LA, and I will have the privilege of celebrating with her there. Going with the flow has broadened my life in ways that I would never have imagined, and I travel with my Sisters from all over our country and our world.
 
The flow of this life as a Sister of St. Joseph is continuously inviting, ever challenging, always God-centered and mission-driven. I have ministered to the “Dear Neighbor” as a high school Spanish teacher, a volunteer ESL teacher with immigrant women, a children’s choir director, elementary school principal and, currently, as the Director of Vocations/Formation for our province. I never really said those words, “Jeanne Marie, go with the flow” when I explained to the children why I had to move to Albany, NY. That is what Kaileigh heard as she recounted my story to her mom back in 1999. Interestingly enough, that’s exactly what’s happened, and I am in awe at the experiences and the relationships I’ve encountered as I stand with my Sisters to serve a world in need!