Sr. M. Johanna Paruch, FSGM grew up in Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. She is a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George. She holds a BA in theology and elementary education from St. Louis University and an MA from the Angelicum, awarded after completing studies at Notre Dame Catechetical Institute. She also earned the Pontifical Catechetical Diploma. Sr. Johanna also earned an undergraduate degree in deaf communication. She has completed her doctorate at Maryvale Institute, Birmingham, England.
Sr. Johanna has been involved in catechetics in all its forms, at every level. She began her catechetical apostolate as a 7th and 8th grade classroom teacher. In addition to teaching all subjects including religion, she organized a group of interested students into “Harmony.” This group of hearing-impaired junior high school students performed both popular and religious songs in American Sign Language.
After her classroom experience, she served as associate director of the Office of Religious Education for the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska. She trained catechists, assisted in the implementation of the mandated textbook series in the diocese, helped design both the high school religious education curriculum and the chastity education curriculum. Sr. Johanna also worked with the Catholic Deaf Community in the diocese, interpreting Masses and teaching religious education classes to both deaf children and adults.
After her service to the Diocese of Lincoln, Sr. Johanna moved to Rock Island, Illinois. She taught freshmen religion and served as the chair of the Religion Department. She also served on the Diocesan Pastoral Council, and the Diocesan Education Committee. She traveled throughout the Diocese of Peoria giving workshops to catechists, as well as speaking to many groups of young people about chastity.
From Rock Island, she journeyed back to her provincial house and was the director of Religious Education for St. Mary’s Parish in Alton, Illinois. She was responsible for the parish religious education program and RCIA, as well as teaching religion daily to the 1st through 8th graders of St. Mary’s School. Sr. Johanna also taught a course on the Catechism of the Catholic Church to the first year seminarians at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, St. Louis.
In 1999, Sr. Johanna joined the Theology faculty of Franciscan University of Steubenville. She specializes in catechetics, and teaches both graduate and undergraduate students.
Besides her teaching duties, Sr. Johanna travels throughout the country presenting workshops on catechist training, catechist retreats, and catechesis for persons with disabilities. She is a regular contributor to The Sower magazine, published by Maryvale Institute. In addition to her catechetical ministry, Sr. Johanna is engaged in research on the role of Catholic sisters in the American Civil War.
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