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Sister Jean Vianney Norris, OP

Dominican Sister of Peace Jean Vianney Norris, OP (89), died on December 27, 2015, at Sansbury Care Center (St. Catharine, KY). She was born in 1926 in Jamaica, NY, to parents Bartholomew and Letitia (Cogin) Norris. She entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Catharine (now the Dominican Sisters of Peace) and made her first profession of vows in 1946. A Dominican for 69 years, Sr. Jean earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology/Chemistry/Math from DePaul University (Chicago, IL) and a Master of Science in Teaching in Biology/Secondary Education from Boston College (Chestnut Hill, MA). She taught in both elementary and high schools in Kentucky, Illinois, New York and Massachusetts. She later became an Educational TV Consultant for the Diocesan Educational Office in Charlestown, MA. In 1997, Sr. Jean began ministry on a pastoral team in Charlestown, MA. In 2003, she moved to St. Catharine, KY, and provided community service. In 2006, she began a ministry of prayer at Sansbury Care Center (St. Catharine, KY). Sr. Jean enjoyed painting, especially flowers and nature. Some of her watercolors grace the hallways at Sansbury Care Center. She was a member of the Dominican Institute of the Arts, serving the group as archivist for many years. Dominican Sister of Peace Maureen Flanagan, OP, remembers Sr. Jean as "a woman with many hats." She loved the Classics and was an avid reader. For seven years she took groups of students to Europe and shared her love of art, music and the Classics with them. Dominican Sister of Peace Paschala Noonan, OP, said that Sr. Jean could have had a successful career as an artist, travel agent, seamstress or dress designer. Instead she spent 53 years teaching in country grammar schools and city high schools. In a previous reflection, Sr. Jean recounted her teaching debut in a two-room school in McQuady, KY. "Life in McQuady was a culture shock," the native New Yorker said. "No indoor plumbing, no central heating, no nearby stores. For three years I made a weekly seven-mile walk to get groceries. Meat was a luxury. From the children I learned how to manage a pot-belly stove, how to teach four grades in one room, and how to call a school holiday when the creek overflowed and the outhouses floated." In her reflections at the funeral Dominican Sister of Peace Ann Bernardine Shaw, OP, said:

In today's Gospel we hear Jesus tell his disciples, "In my Father's house are many dwelling places."

When I was younger, I envisioned heaven filled with building after building. After all, didn't Jesus speak of many dwelling places? A place for his disciples, for you, for me and for Jean. Her final dwelling place.

Jean had many homes during her years as a Dominican. I lived with her in East Boston while she taught at Pope John High School. It was the first time I knew anyone who drank Coca-Cola for breakfast! Jean loved her students and enjoyed teaching and planning trips to Europe for them. She loved Dominican life and her birth family. When I saw the picture outside chapel today, I remembered that she also loved hats!

Most of all Jean loved God. I'm sure she would say with St. Paul, "The sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us."

Jean had many talents. She was a gift teacher, an avid reader and a talented painter.

She was never a "sit-down and take-it-easy" person. Like Jesus, she was always on the move. What needed to be done for the community? She would volunteer for a planning committee. What needed to be done for the Archdiocese of Boston? She was a founding member of the Sisters' Senate. If there was a need, Jean was there.

When Jesus said, "I will come back and take you to myself," he meant each of us. On December 27 he welcomed Jean home. Now there is one more Dominican saint to give glory to God. Rest in peace, Jean.

Sr. Jean is survived by several nephews and one niece. Visitation and the funeral Mass were held at the Sansbury Care Center Chapel on January 6 and 7. Burial followed at the St. Catharine Motherhouse cemetery. Memorial gifts in Sr. Jean's memory may be submitted securely online or mailed to Dominican Sisters of Peace, Office of Mission Advancement, 2320 Airport Dr, Columbus, OH 43219-2098.

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