In Memoriam


Sister Joanne O’Connor, formerly known as Helen Susan O’Connor and, in religious life as Sister Mary Joannes, died on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at the Dominican Life Center in Adrian, Michigan. She was 96 years of age and in the 78th year of her religious profession in the Adrian Dominican Congregation. 

Sister Joanne was born in Chicago to Daniel and Corinne (Barry) O’Connor. She graduated from St. Joseph Academy in Adrian and received a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in English from Barry College (University) in Miami, Florida and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Siena Heights College (University) in Adrian. Sister was also certified for pastoral care by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains.

Sister Joanne spent 32 years ministering in education in Miami Beach and Miami Shores, Florida; Detroit and Adrian, Michigan; and Chicago, Illinois. She ministered in higher education for nine years at Barry College (University) in Miami Shores, Florida, and for 11 years at Siena Heights College (University) in Adrian, Michigan. She also taught at Dominican High School and Rosary High School, both in Detroit, for a total of six years. 

Sister was a nuclear medicine technician at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California, for five years; Co-Provincial for Holy Cross Province in Oakland, California for three years; and Tribunal Advocate for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, California, for 14½ years. 

Sister Joanne became a resident of the Dominican Life Center in 2012. She is survived by a sister, Joan Panaro, of Santa Rosa, California. She was predeceased by a sister, Sister Helene O’Connor, also an Adrian Dominican Sister. 

Rite of Committal (burial) was held on March 9 in the Congregation Cemetery. A Memorial Mass will be on Monday, March 13, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. in St. Catherine Chapel, followed by the Ritual of Remembering at 1:30 p.m. in the Rose Room of the Dominican Life Center. Both the Memorial Mass and the Ritual of Remembering will be live streamed.

make a memorial giftMemorial gifts may be made to Adrian Dominican Sisters, 1257 East Siena Heights Drive, Adrian, Michigan, 49221. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Anderson Funeral Home, Adrian.


LEFT: The O’Connor children: back row, from left, Daniel, Jr., 11; Mary, 13; and Catherine, 5; and in front, from left, Helen (the future Sister Joanne), 2; John, 9; and Corinne, 7. RIGHT: Sister Joanne at her first Communion, May 6, 1937


RIGHT: From left, Sisters Mary Jean Walsh, Rita Cecile Boyle, and Joanne O’Connor prepare to leave for Washington.


LEFT: Sister Joanne, facing the camera, at a Chapter Assembly in 1988. RIGHT: Working on a statue of St. John


LEFT: Sister Joanne, left, with her close friend, Sister Mary Margaret Beh


At Barry College with one of the Stations of the Cross that she designed and executed for Barry

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Cemetery of the Adrian Dominican Sisters

Our Adrian Dominican cemetery with its circular headstones is a beautiful place of rest for women who gave their lives in service to God—and a peaceful place for contemplation and remembrance. 

We will post memorial reflections on our faithfully departed Sisters and Associates. If you would like to reflect on a Sister or Associate who has gone before us, please send your reflections – no more than 500 to 600 words – to .

We invite you to meet some of the wonderful women who have recently crossed into eternity.


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