Beckley Catholic Community Says Good-bye to Sister Janice Rospert

By Colleen Rowan BECKLEY—The Catholic community in Beckley is preparing to say a reluctant good-bye to Sister Janice Rospert, OSF, who has served as director of religious education at St. Francis de Sales Parish there for 25 years. At the end of this month she will be retiring from “paid active ministry,” she said, and is moving to Toledo, Ohio. “It’s been a blessing,” Sister Janice said of her time in Beckley. “The people are wonderful. My heart hurts in saying good-bye.” “Sister Janice is such a wonderful model of St. Francis of Assisi,” said Very Rev. Paul Wharton, V.F., pastor of the parish. “She lives a life of simplicity, humility and heartfelt dedication and love to God, the church and the people with and for whom she works. She was a pleasure to work with and she will be missed.” Sister Janice arrived in Beckley in 1992 at the urging of then pastor Father John McGinnity, who was in need of a director of religious education for the parish. Upon her first meeting with Father McGinnity, Sister Janice said, she immediately knew that she wanted to work with him. “He said, ‘Let’s go in and pray,’” Sister Janice said of Father McGinnity when she first met him to discuss the director of religious education position. “I was so taken back by that gesture, that I knew I’d like to work with him. And I had the privilege of working with Father John for four years, and after him, Msgr. Sam Sacus and then Father Wharton. It’s just been 25 wonderful years.” Throughout that quarter century that she has spent in Beckley, Sister Janice said she has been especially touched by the children. “The youth here, in this parish, are absolutely wonderful,” she said. “The parents work hard to give them a sense of purpose in life, and that begins with the church and they do a good job. As I look back, I am especially touched by the children. They have been such a gift. I can understand why Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me.’” Although she is retiring from paid active ministry, Sister Janice will be volunteering at a parish in Toledo teaching first Communion and confirmation classes. She described her impending move as, in a way, going home: “Fifty years ago, I left that same parish as a lay teacher to go to another school.” Before becoming a Sister of St. Francis of Tiffin, Ohio, in 1975, Sister Janice served as a teacher for a number of years. As a Sister of St. Francis and prior to moving to Beckley, she served as director of religious education in another parish in Toledo. In reflecting on her life as a religious, she said: “It’s been such a good life, such a blessing. I’m stunned … that I would have been called. I didn’t think I was good enough to be a sister, so it took a little hammering on my head,” she said, laughing. “… it was God’s call.” During her time at St. Francis de Sales, Sister Janice started “Anna’s Angels,” a support group for widows, and “Hannah Sisters” for women who were dealing with infertility issues. “Sister Janice is a glorious gift from God to any and all that know her,” said Debra Lanna, director of advancement and development at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Beckley, and a friend of Sister Janice. “Her comforting words when I have had needs will always be in my heart. Her years of service to St. Francis will always be remembered. I wish St. Francis could hold on to her a while longer, but our loss is certainly another’s gain.”