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March 18, 2014 > 100 years of joyful living

100 years of joyful living

Submitted By Charlotte Hall

It is hard for most of us to comprehend how different the world was 100 years ago Ð ordinary people did not have electricity, running water or cars; and of course there were no televisions, computers, or cell phones. But there were silent movies, and for one local woman, Sister Joanna Connolly a member of Sisters of the Holy Family in Fremont, her first career was as a child actress in many of those silent movies. In March, Sister Joanna, whose childhood name was Bobbe, celebrated her 100th birthday with a party and lots of conversation remembering her 100 years.

Bobbe started her career in the movies as a baby and retired when she was five years old to go to kindergarten. School, family, and friends defined her life for the next decade. Then one day during high school when, according to her, she was avoiding doing her homework, she read a pamphlet that explained what it meant to have a religious calling. It resonated with her, the joy of devoting one's life to God seemed so right. A few weeks later, when she read another pamphlet, "Gleaners Along the King's Highway" about the work of the Sisters of the Holy Family, Bobbe knew immediately that she wanted to be one of them. When she told her family and friends of her plan, many of them doubted that she would last long as a novitiate of Sisters of the Holy Family, but she did, and has spent 80 joyful years as a Sister.

Sister Joanna taught religious education for many years in Southern California. Then in 1955, in response to a request from the Bishop, Sister Joanna was sent to Hawaii to teach catechism. Although the Catholic church had been in Hawaii for many years, there was very little religious education being taught there. Sister Joanna and her fellow Sisters went to small towns, gathered the children and started catechism classes, holding the classses wherever they could, which was often outdoors. Sister Joanna loved the native people in Hawaii and was delighted to make that her ministry and home for 45 years.

Sister Joanna has lived through many changes in the church as well as the world. Now Sister Joanna is back in California, living at the Motherhouse in Fremont, still finding ways to reflect the love of God to everyone she meets.

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