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Monday, March 17, 2008

"5 Questions: Sister Jeanne Haley"

5 Questions: Sister Jeanne Haley
Administrator of St. Patrick's Residence

From The Naperville Sun
March 17, 2008

"We're not just these holy nuns who give and give and give. We do, but we get so much in return," says Sister Jeanne Haley, administrator at St. Patrick's Residence in Naperville, at right, about her life as a Carmelite Sister for the Aged and Infirm. Here, she visits with resident Katherine Ferianc, seated, and Ferianc's daughter, Ellie Augustine of La Grange, March 10 in Naperville.
Danielle Gardner / Staff photographer

Growing up, Sister Jeanne Haley never thought of herself as nun material.

As a teenager she sometimes got into mischief. But she never forgot the pleasure she felt during the summer she volunteered at Sacred Heart Manor, a home for the elderly in Chicago run by the Carmelite Sisters. She was 14 at the time and her admiration for the joyful society of the nuns ultimately led her to the religious vocation she has cherished for 38 years.

For the last decade, Haley has been administrator at St. Patrick's Residence in Naperville, a non-profit, 210-bed nursing and rehabilitation facility served by the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm. Her goal is to make St. Pat's not only comfortable and homey for its residents, but also an integrated part of the Naperville community. St. Patrick's is represented at various city activities including Naper Days' annual Bed Races.

Haley was born in Oak Park, the third of six children. The family lived with her grandmother, who helped her parents care for the children, including younger sister Jeanne, who was developmentally disabled.

It was that sister's name that Haley took when she joined the Carmelites in 1970.

Through the years, Haley also has taken care of elders in Carmelite homes in New York City, Philadelphia and Davenport, Iowa. While serving the latter, she graduated from Scott Community College with a degree in nursing.

Haley had always wanted to be a nurse since reading Sue Barton books by Helen Dore Boylston as a young girl. Helping care for her younger sister also intensified her passion for the profession.
Haley's other interests include playing cards, puzzles and spending time with family.

1. What made you decide to become a nun?

I was 19 years old and I believed in what the sisters did. I'm not going to say God tapped me on the shoulder. He didn't. But I felt drawn to become a part of what their mission was. I dated in high school. I went to my senior prom. I wasn't all my life sitting saying 'oh yes, I want to be a nun.' But I felt called to it. ... Through all these years, the vocation just becomes stronger. I can remember as a postulant sometimes not believing I was this fortunate to be able to be part of this community - to be able to have my wish of caring for the elderly, of being a nurse and then putting it together, being a part of a community that did the things I wanted to do and had such a beautiful prayer life.

2. What are some of your other interests?

I like to bowl. I love the White Sox ... I don't care if the Sox are winning or losing, I just love to go to the games ... It's fun to get out to the ball park, to get the fresh air, to yell and scream. We have more laughs. We have a great big sign that says 'Nuns love the White Sox' and its got a picture of a nun with a baseball bat. We get our pictures taken with half the world. We've had old altar boys send us up hot dogs one year. We danced on the dugout with the mascot. We need to do it because we are human and we need to have fun. But it's also important for us to get out there and show people that religious can have fun.

3. What is your personal philosophy?

Trust in God and realize that it's not all about you. I think that's the only way we can live our lives. So if you think everything is about us and how we are going to handle things and what we are going to do and what we are going to achieve, we're going to be exhausted and not accomplish anything. But if we can understand that God put all these people in our lives making our lives better and to make what we do better, then it can be a joy. I don't always live by that rule as well as I should.

4. How would you describe yourself?

I would say I am someone that loves to be a part of a mission, someone that loves to be blessed to be in the community I'm in and someone who tries to be joyful and thankful to the Lord every day.

5. What are some of your personal goals?

I'm still striving to gain the balance of being an administrator and still staying who I am. I think I'm always striving to be the religious that I want to be and be joyful in doing it.

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