For teenager Nancy O’Shea, Notre Dame High School, San Jose, teachers like ebullient Sr. Helen Cecilia Miller (who died at 101 years of age) pointed the way to a good life: “I had thought about religious life for a long time and the Sisters of Notre Dame were so happy. I was attracted to that. In the end, it wasn’t a hard decision to enter.”
As a young Sister, Nancy (Anne Jerome) started her teaching career at St. Vincent de Paul School in Federal Way, WA. She would continue as a teacher and principal for 15 years in schools throughout California and Washington. Later her administrative gifts and management skills were used on two different occasions as a member of the California Province Leadership Team.
But perhaps it was her 12 years ministering as a pastoral associate in Sonora, CA, that proved to be the most satisfying and enjoyable. The work included three key elements: 1) a great pastoral team, 2) a variety of wonderful ministries and 3) a great mix of people in the community. Among her many duties, she would serve as chaplain for a hospice and train lay leaders to care for the sick and shut-ins. She led a grief support group for parents who had lost children. “Really I only enabled them to minister to one another,” says Sr. Nancy, “and it was inspiring. Even in the midst of their own pain, they always reached out to new members.” Parishioner Louise Goicoechea shares, “Sr. Nancy was loved by all at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Sonora and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Big Oak Flat. She had the wisdom and the vision to bring the parishioners together in many innovative ways. She brought out the best in all of us!”
In 2008 Sister Nancy was elected to serve as one of five members of the Congregational Leadership Team (CLT) “preserving the unity and fostering the mission of the Congregation.” Though stationed in Rome, she is frequently on the road visiting Sisters in different countries, understanding their reality, issues and needs…electricity and water outages included. “I am able to see things through their eyes, see what their dealing with. I don’t think the same. I definitely have a more global perspective now.” Friend Sr. Eileen Burns, SND, says, “I am amazed by her ability to feel at home wherever she is and to be so interested in others and so relational all over the world. It’s a great gift that she shares with the congregation as an international leader. She has been a great gift in my life.”
Sr. Nancy is grateful for all the people she has met and gotten to know on a deeper level in ministry.