After serving as the Pastoral Associate at St. John’s Catholic Church for 25 years, Sister Jane Iannaccone, a Sister of Providence, is headed to Indiana, to continue sharing her gifts and ministries at St. Mary of the Woods. Since 1995, Sister Jane has been offering her blessings across the community and those who have been on the receiving end of her gifts are taking the time to reflect on all she has given.
“Sister Jane’s departure is a personal loss for me,” said resident Karen Flaherty, dedicated parishioner of St. John’s. “I think it’s sad to be losing the presence of a religious female role model for the girls in the community. This is a major loss for Winthrop.”
During her time as a Pastoral Associate, Sister Jane has been involved with several ministries, including bereavement, confirmation, sacramental preparation, committals at the cemetery, the annulment process, and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RICA). As part of those ministries she has conducted prayer services at the Arbors Assisted Living, given the children’s reflection during the family mass, and has been called upon to visit patients and family members in hospitals.
Her move from St. John’s is the result of being furloughed on March 1 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the unsteady future of potential jobs at the Archdiocese of Boston. When asked what she will miss the most about Winthrop, her answer is “the people.”
“I’ve journeyed through the happiest moments as well as the most difficult moments. I’ve watched children grow up and seen them get married and have children of their own, witnessing the cycle of life. It is the people I will miss most.”
The majority of her years at St. John’s were spent working alongside Father Bourke, who she credits as being a collaborative colleague.
“Father Bourke truly saw the gifts I had and he encouraged me to use them.”
Prior to her time at St. John’s, Sister Jane taught kindergarten and first grade, where she discovered her natural ability to engage with children.
“The way she engages with kids during the children’s masses is incredible, she gets the best out of the kids,” said parent and parishioner, Mary Spinale. “Everyone loves her. She has this way of relating to the children.”
Karen Flaherty recalls Sister Jane’s involvement with the annual spring confirmation retreat.
“The kids always loved hearing her own personal story because she was able to laugh at herself and she could relate to any age group. She’s approachable.”
When resident, Kathy Hubert’s family started having children, Sister Jane had just started at St. John’s. Since then, she has been through all seven of their baptisms, communions, and confirmations. Hubert’s sons have memories of joining Sister Jane on the altar during the 10 a.m. family mass, and they went on to assist her with the younger children when they had gotten older.
“She is amazing, humble and kind,” said Hubert, who witnessed Sister Jane’s God-given gift come into her life when she was struggling. “A few years ago I had a very bad infection that required hospitalization and amputation. At the lowest point in my life, Sister Jane came to me, prayed with me and lifted my soul. I will miss her whole heartedly but I know she will use her gifts to lift others in need. It is her calling. I will miss her but she will always be a part of my heart and in the hearts of my family.”
On August 9, a parade will be held in honor of Sister Jane and all she has contributed to Saint John’s and the many residents in Winthrop. The parade will pass by St. John’s where Sister Jane will be standing. Interested participants will meet at the high school at 1:00 pm.