Sister Jeanette Zielinski, OSF
Recently, SOAR! met with Sister Jeanette Zielinski, a Sister of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio to talk about her vocation.
Sister Jeanette Zielinski was born in 1935. She felt the call to become a Sister at an early age. “The Sisters were full of such joy and happiness. They were always kind to each other and to the children they taught,” she said. Her family would pray together, and their faith also helped inspire her vocation.
At the age of 14 she entered the convent high school. She professed her first vows 70 years ago, in 1953. Education is among the ministries in which Sister Jeanette has served. She taught elementary and junior high, was a principal of several elementary schools, and later was Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois where she loved working with teachers, principals and pastors.
Music has always been one of Sister’s gifts. Her parents encouraged her and she studied piano from second grade through eighth grade. This encouragement continued from the Sisters after she entered the convent high school, and she learned to play the organ. As the years progressed, Sister Jeanette was very happy to serve both as an organist at liturgies and leading the children’s choir in Detroit, Michigan and Toledo, Ohio. She shared her joy that there is one class she taught which continues to have class reunions and those former students still keep in touch with her.
Sister Jeanette was in leadership for her congregation in the late 1990s and early 2000s. During this time, she helped some of the Sisters transition from one type of ministry to another. She noted that it was sometimes challenging for Sisters to transition from active ministry to the ministry of prayer. In her own life, Sister Jeanette has recently made that transition.
When she returned to Sylvania, she continued to share her gift of music and took turns with other Sisters playing for daily Mass. She later directed the Sisters’ choir for three years. While Sister Jeanette took a short break from playing the organ, she began playing again on May 1 of this year.
Sister Jeanette offers these words of wisdom: “In the busyness of the world today, people don’t take the time for gratitude. Each day, it’s important to count your blessings and be grateful for all God has given you. I encourage everyone to count your daily blessings before falling asleep each night.”
The Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio, recently received a SOAR! grant to help offset the cost of constructing a lift in the chapel. Now Sisters with mobility issues can safely and easily get to the choir loft and share the gift of music and song with their community.
God bless you for all you do to bring a song to the hearts of our aging religious.