Jeanne Ibach, CSJ

We remember her in the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter.

 June 25, 1927 – January 28, 2020

Jeanne Marie Ibach was one of two daughters born to Albert and Mary Ibach. With her sister, Marie, Jeanne was raised in Dorchester, where many of her lifelong friendships began. It was during her time at St. Gregory High School that Jeanne’s attraction to religious life first appeared. After high school, Jeanne earned her bachelor’s degree at Boston State College and her master’s at Suffolk University. She spent five years as a kindergarten teacher in the Boston Public Schools before entering the Sisters of St. Joseph. In Jeanne’s own words, “It was through a professor at college that I met Sister Edwardus Bulger and ‘fell in love’ with the CSJs.”

As an elementary teacher, principal, diocesan supervisor, college professor, and chairperson, Jeanne gave her service to the dear neighbor through the field of education. Jeanne’s devotion to the task of teaching infused the various roles that she undertook. Not only did she instruct those who would be teachers at the early childhood level, but she also conducted summer programs for children, seeking to unleash their creative talents through art. Jeanne found a way to enable children to become truly themselves through meaningful expression in all areas of the curriculum.

Those who lived and worked with Jeanne during her ministry knew her as a dedicated teacher, true friend, and enjoyable companion. Her pleasant manner, sense of humor, and love of life combined to attract people to friendship with her. Jeanne was also a noted party-giver, gathering the Sisters to enjoy each other’s company and to engage in games to the delight of many.

In the book of the prophet Daniel we read that “Those who instruct others to justice shall shine as stars for all eternity.’ As one who was the quintessential teacher, Jeanne now illumines the heavens while her impact here on earth will be felt for generations to come.

Given by Judith Costello, CSJ

February 1, 2020


As we celebrate the life of Sister Jeanne Ibach this morning and thank God for her presence among us, I would like to reflect on the quote Sister Judy Costello wrote announcing Jeanne’s death to the Congregation last Tuesday morning.  

“I have loved you with an everlasting love… I have called you and you are mine”.

Isaiah 43 

During her lifetime and particularly during her 67 years as a Sister of St. Joseph, I believe Sister Jeanne heard God speak to her, guiding her in her daily life. I also believe Jeanne love God deeply, and manifested God’s love in her ministry as an educator, both in the public school in Roxbury – before her entrance into religious life- and for decades later within the framework of Catholic Education as teacher, administrator, and mentor to prospective teachers. Through her knowledge of educational pedagogy, professionalism, and gentle demeanor, Sister Jeanne fostered the vocation of teaching to many women. As a result, Jeanne was selected to open St. James Kindergarten in Haverhill and became the founding Director of the Early Childhood Program at Aquinas College in Newton. In these educational roles, Sister Jeanne provided strong leadership and generously shared her many talents.

For many years even to the present time, Sister Jean cultivated deep relationships. Present here this morning are colleagues of hers through ministry, friends, and Sisters of St. Joseph that enjoyed living and ministering with her.

I personally witnessed Sister Jeanne’s teaching skills when she came to St. Angela School in Mattapan to teach art to our Kindergarten class. Her lessons were both creative and significant. The students delighted every week to welcome Sister Jeanne and look forward to the art project she had for them. It was always a surprise!

Living with Sister Jeanne, one knew she was a very creative person with artistic talent. She created paintings in watercolor of landscapes, still life and flowers. Entering her school offices and visiting her room at Bethany one could view her paintings – some of her paintings are on exhibit on the Memorial Table –

Being attentive and listening to God’s voice through the years, Sister Jeanne was able to adjust to alternative ministries. Working at the Motherhouse, Jeanne was an organizer, particularly planning events and games for the sisters. Within our apartment, Jeanne even directed Sr. Barbara and I in the placement of house decorations and occasionally gave us sisterly advice. We had the privilege of living with Jeanne for 11 years.

When Jeanne’s health began to decline, she accepted the invitation to move to Bethany and begin a new life of retirement. At Bethany, Jeanne was delighted to be with her dear friend, Sister Francis Marilyn, and companions Kay Gilmore, Barbara Reney, and Ellen Pumphret. Often we would see this group sitting together, enjoying one another at the activities at Bethany with other Bethany residents. 

However, a truly special treasure for Sister Jeanne through the years was enjoying life with her sister, Marie, and her children, Paula, Jeanne and Richard, and their children. Always addressed by them as Sister Jeanne, they always included her in all family affairs as they celebrated life events. This family continued to visit their Aunt at Bethany, always bearing gifts and offering companionship to her, even being at her bedside on her dying day. 

Sister Jeanne Ibach loved her God with her whole heart. She endeavored to follow God’s will daily. Her prayer life reinforced her love and dedication of service to her God. It was her desire to be God’s witness to all whom she met and ministered.

God took Jeanne’s hand early Tuesday morning, bestowing on her the eternal reward promised to all good and faithful servants, reuniting Jeanne with her sister, Marie, her parents, and her friends who have gone before her. It is now that Sister Jeanne Ibach can see the God she worshiped, and the God who loved her with an everlasting love. May you rest in peace, Sister Jeanne

Given by Gail Donahue, CSJ