A memorial Mass for Sister Joann (Paul Miriam) Bauer, SSND, will be celebrated Saturday at Theresa Center Chapel at Ripa in St. Louis. Sister Joann died Dec. 12 in the infirmary at Sancta Maria in Ripa. She was 75 and had been a School Sister of Notre Dame for 56 years.
Born on June 14, 1943, in Belleville, Ill., she was the fifth of 10 children born to Henrietta (Schaefer) and Alphonse Bauer. She attended St. Peter Cathedral Grade School and the Academy of Notre Dame, where she was taught by the School Sisters of Notre Dame. By the end of her sophomore year, she was sure of her call to become a sister but didn’t tell her parents until two months before graduation. They were surprised but graciously gave consent for her entrance. An older sister, Virginia (Robert Mary), had become a Franciscan Sister.
Sister Joann received the candidate’s veil at St. Peter Cathedral on August 23, 1961. She was received into the novitiate on August 1, 1962, and given the name Paul Miriam. She professed first vows on August 2, 1963, and final vows on August 2, 1968. Sister Joann received a bachelor’s in mathematics from the former Notre Dame College in St. Louis, in 1965, and a master’s in mathematics from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 1973.
She taught elementary children at St. Peter Grade School in Jefferson City, Mo., and St. Michael in Shrewsbury. She taught math and science for 11 years at St. Anthony High School in Effingham, Ill.; Aquinas High School in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Bishop Conaty High School in Los Angeles. She was principal for 14 years at St. Anthony High School in Effingham, Bishop Conaty High School in Los Angeles and later the the consolidated Bishop Conaty/Our Lady of Loretto High School.
After a sabbatical, Sister Joann taught at Dolores Alternative School in Monterey Park, Calif., for a year. Following a year of volunteer service at the motherhouse in St. Louis, she returned to California and taught children with special needs at Soledad Enrichment Action in Los Angeles. For 12 years, she served at the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) in the program to keep parenting teens in school until receiving their high school diploma. In 2003, she was chosen as Teacher of the Year by LACOE’s Division of Alternative Education. She also taught an independent study program for the Division of Alternative Education in Downey, Calif.
In 2011, she returned to the St. Louis area. After several months of tutoring, she taught part-time at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, Ill., and worked part-time in the finance office at Sancta Maria in Ripa. When cancer returned, she resigned from the finance office in May 2018.
Sister Joann chose not to undergo chemotherapy but said she wanted to live a quality life until God called her home. She chose to have a natural (green) burial — the first such burial at Ripa, which took place the afternoon of December 12. It seemed appropriate that she would enter into her new life on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe after spending so many years ministering with Hispanics in California.
Sister Joann was called a gentle, compassionate person who loved to teach and to help her students realize their potential. She was known as a good community member who had a great love for all of God’s creation. She was an active member of the Earthy SSNDs who studied and sought to implement actions for the care of creation. During these last months, she was a witness to a deep inner courage and strength as she lived her life to the fullest.