Joan Diane Navone dreamed of getting married one day and having 12 children, but at a senior high school retreat when a priest spoke of religious life, she thought, “This is what I should do.” Her parents weren’t too keen on the idea, but figured her “feeling about it” would fade. Because of her strict, protective Italian upbringing, moving to a very regulated life in a convent wasn’t much of a stretch and her common sense, humor and enjoyment of people kept her in good stead. And the feeling never faded!
As a young Sister (now Peter Joseph), her first teaching job was at Sacred Heart School, San Jose. “I didn’t feel very competent at first, and the children once told me ‘You’re not like other nuns!’ But I was there six years and the experience was so good. It really set the tone for my teaching career.” She would later serve as principal for both St. Mark’s, Seattle, and Sacred Heart, Saratoga, but found she missed being in the classroom and returned to teaching.
For the last 24 years she taught seventh grade at St. Joseph of Cupertino. For her 50th Jubilee, the school threw her a party that included a Mass, luncheon, tributes and gifts and culminated in a song-and-dance number from her favorite musical, “Hairspray.” As Sr. Peter Joseph says, “They know how to throw a party at St. Joseph’s!” Principal Mary Lyons shares, “The day was a true celebration of joy and gratitude for a very, very special woman who is celebrating 50 years as a Sister of Notre Dame and a lifetime of love. We are blessed beyond words to have her in our SJC community.”
While Sister never had 12 children of her own, she ended up influencing the lives of thousands and thousands of children. She hears from some who are particularly grateful for the outstanding English and writing skills they acquired from her classes. She laughs, “I’m not the most technologically savvy teacher, but I am glad to hear that the students are well prepared for some very competitive schools.”
Now retired, Sister is grateful for all the people who have been there for her, who’ve sustained her all these years, and for the example of wiser, older Sisters.