Helping the Sick and Dying
A convert to Catholicism at age 13, Karen Pozniak ended up following a friend to Notre Dame High School in San Jose. For this former Protestant, “religious life” was a foreign concept, but one that she embraced as she entered the convent after graduating from high school.
Sister Karen was the oldest of seven children and her novice director thought she would make a good primary school teacher. In her heart, Sr. Karen disagreed, and outwardly she cried. But as it turns out, she did enjoy teaching young children and enjoyed her years at Moreland Notre Dame School in Watsonville, St. Stephen School in Portland, OR, and Star of the Sea in Honolulu.
Later she would go back to school for a master’s degree in spirituality while working as a nurse’s aide for the older Sisters at the Notre Dame Villa in Saratoga. As her own spirituality deepened, a gifting to work with the sick and dying emerged. She would use this gifting in pastoral ministries at St. Julie Church in San Jose and St. Joseph Church in Cupertino and in local hospitals.
In 1992 Sr. Karen moved to the East Coast to be close to her ailing mother. Sister, now a certified chaplain, fortuitously landed a job with the Fanny Allen Hospital in Burlington, VT, giving her the opportunity to visit patients, train pastoral volunteers and lead religious services. The job suited her to a “T.” As co-worker Judy Norton explains “Sr. Karen is great with the volunteers. Patient and mature.” Long-time friend Lisa Pennino continues “Karen exemplifies everything Christ stands for. Gentle, open-minded, fair, inclusive.”
Sr. Karen says of her journey, “Each place brought me the goodness of God in the special people who blessed me by sharing their lives with me. God’s goodness has been at work in and through me. Thanks be to God.”
Today, Sister continues her good work as the Chaplain Educator for Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, VT.