In Memoriam

Sister Joanne O’Connor, OP


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

Leave your comments and remembrances (if you don't see the comment box below, click on the "Read More" link).


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Avatar  Regina Lathrop last weekReply

I am Sr. Joanne’s niece. I am so thankful that, along with Joan and Joe, I was able to “attend” the Mass and Ritual of Remembering via live stream.

Joanne was an amazing woman, and truly holy. She had such a rich life in all her varied roles, and put her heart into everything she did. She was incredibly kind, humble, and always grateful, but certainly not without her opinions! I feel so very blessed to have had her as my aunt.

Bob and I were so happy that she was able to be with us to celebrate our 25th anniversary and vow renewal in 2008, and that we could spend so many holidays with her over the years while she lived in California.

Joanne, we pray for you. Please pray for us, there now with our God, and with my mother, Catherine, and your parents and all your other siblings.

Gina (Regina)

Avatar  Joan O'Connor Panaro last weekReply

To my Sister Joanne,
Hi, Love, this is instead of our next Sunday's phone visit; I will desperately miss our conversations. There are so many memories surfacing now, starting with earliest when you were about fifteen and I,5ish, you often asked me to scratch your back and to tell you the time—where the big and little hands were. You had to put your homework in the locked cabinet so we babes wouldn't get at it. You were so attentive to us and we ate it up.

I was thrilled when you moved to the San Francisco area and we could visit occasionally—whenever you weren't working. You had that awful commute over the bay bridge for one longtime job--it was very taxing. But whenever we were together we had so much fun. You were game for anything.

Then there was my wedding to Joe where you gained another very big fan. He is missing you as much as I do. You have a lot of friends, Joanne. Does that tell you your personality was a work of art? You have beautifully filled the role that God designed for you and Whose arms enfold you now. Pray for us, please?

With so much love,
Joe and Joan

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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