In Memory

Sister Jo Ann Trama, IHM

February 24, 1942 – November 19, 2021

Jo Ann Trama, IHM

Sister Jo Ann Trama, IHM, (formerly known as Sister Maria Alma) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Friday, November 19, 2021, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton.

She was born on February 24, 1942, in Bridgeport, CT, and given the name Jo Ann Christine. She was the daughter of the late Frank and Ann Lewonczyk Trama. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1960, made her temporary profession of vows on June 26, 1963, and her final profession of vows on June 26, 1968.

Sister Jo Ann served as a teacher in the following schools: Cathedral High School in Scranton, PA, from 1965 to 1966; St. Rosalia High School in Pittsburgh, PA, from 1966 to 1971; and St. Mary of the Mount High School in Pittsburgh, PA, from 1971 to 1977.

At Marywood University, Sister Jo Ann served as a faculty member in the Human Ecology Department from 1977 to 1980 and 1984 to 1994; in the Military Family Institute from 1989 to 1994; and in the School of Social Work from 1996 to 2003.

Sister Jo Ann also served as a counselor at Our Children First in Daytona Beach, FL, from 1994 to 1996; social worker for CareGivers America Hospice in Clarks Summit, PA, from 2012 to 2014; community support professional at St. Joseph’s Center in Scranton, PA, in 2014; family aide at St. Joseph’s Center in Dunmore, PA, from 2014 to 2020; counselor at Catholic Social Services in Scranton, PA, from 2015 to 2020; counselor and social worker at Grasta Counseling Center in Scranton, PA, in 2021 until the time of her death.

From 2003 to 2011, Sister Jo Ann lovingly cared for her aged parents in Daytona Beach, FL.

She received a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics, and a Master of Social Work degree from Marywood College; a Master of Science degree in human behavior and development from Drexel University; and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in family relations/human development from The Ohio State University.

She is preceded in death by a sister, Patricia Younkins.

She is survived by two sisters, Judith Ann Howard of Manchester, NH; and Debra Ann Clancy of Sharpsburg, MD; nieces and nephews; grandnieces and grandnephews; aunt and uncle, Teresa and Tadusz Solarz of Bridgeport, CT; and cousins. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

Interment will be at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA. Due to restrictions related to the coronavirus, the funeral mass and graveside service are private.

Memorial contributions may be made to support the retired IHM Sisters c/o the IHM Sisters Retirement Fund, IHM Center, 2300 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18509.



Sister Jo Ann Trama, IHM
Funeral Eulogy, December 1, 2021
by Sister Ellen Maroney, IHM, Congregation President

Author Leo Tolstoy wrote the following:

Just as one candle lights another
And can light thousands of other candles,
So one heart illuminates another heart
And can illuminate thousands of other hearts.

As I reflect about Jo Ann and what her life meant to all of us, I think these words of Tolstoy capture perfectly her spirit and her simple, deep faith. She truly lived the resurrection joy and promise each day of her life. As her condition began to worsen a few months ago, she calmly and purposefully sought advice, visited countless doctors and specialists, had tests, seeking solutions, to no avail. Most of us struggled to understand and accept and continued with our prayers and questions about how this could be happening. Only Jo Ann seemed to understand. A couple of weeks ago, when she was asked for probably the hundredth time what else could be done, she simply rolled her eyes, opened her hands, and smiled. Her faith and trust in the God she loved so fully was her response. This morning though our hearts are saddened by the too quick loss of such a vibrant influence among us, we gather in hope as a community of believers because our faith and the life of this special woman show us how.

Yesterday at the beautiful prayer service for Jo Ann, and throughout this past week, many have shared some wonderful stories about how she touched their lives through her simple goodness, humor, and caring. She was one of the most unique, fun, and vibrant person most of us have ever met. Our sharing and prayer draw our individual memories into a collective one that comforts and strengthens us, and also helps us to see beyond our own sorrow to the beauty and inspiration that Jo Ann was for so many. Her example encourages us to practice with deeper awareness those simple acts of kindness, respect, and selfless love that can make a real difference in one another’s lives.

To know Jo Ann was to be invited into an ever-widening circle of diverse and inspiring connections. Our relationships tell the story of our lives, I believe, and Jo Ann was a high relator. During her fifty-eight years of religious life, she witnessed her relationship with God and with others in a vast array of ways. She ministered as an educator, a social worker, a community support professional, a board member, a counselor, and family caregiver in schools, university campuses, and public and private community social service agencies in Pennsylvania, Florida, and Ohio. In each place of ministry, Jo Ann left a legacy of professionalism, caring, vitality, and generous commitment. So many, from grade school children to senior citizens, were the recipients of her deep faith, ready generosity, unique sense of humor, and gentle compassion. She valued people as sacred gifts in her life.

Jo Ann was a care-giver in the truest sense of that word. No effort was too much, and that was especially true for her family, who were so special to her. She lovingly cared for both of her aging parents during their final years. She was an organizer and the planner for them and enjoyed bringing surprise and joy whenever she could. She relished her role and valued those traits in her other relationships. Jo Ann was also a doer who was joyful, resilient, and creative. She had the knack of engaging all, friend or newcomer, in conversation that would leave an indelible mark on each person. She was, as Gail so beautifully described her yesterday, very comfortable in her own skin, and that comfort transferred instantly to those who met her. Her circle of relationships just kept getting wider and she treasured her connections for the life and joy she both gave and received from them. She taught us about the deep value of love for others not just through words, but through her actions each day.

Jo Ann possessed a depth and richness in her relationship with God, to which all who knew her can readily attest. She spoke easily about her own spirituality and her love and trust in God not in an intellectual way, but in a personal way that touched us deeply and invited that same deep faith and trust in us. Through the ups and downs of her own life, I think Jo Ann understood suffering and need in others perhaps better than most, and through her own faith, was able to reach out to others. Her love of and trust in God is what sustained and carried her each day, especially during these past few months, and enabled her to live the mystery of that deep faith with a strength that continues to sustain each of us during these days.

So we rejoice today that Jo Ann is now at home with her God and enjoying eternal life with her parents, Ann and Frank, her sister, Patricia, and other family members who preceded her in death. I’m certain that Jo Ann has already ordered a sufficient number of percussion instruments for a full heavenly band and is already having practice! We join our prayers with her beloved family, especially her sisters, Judy and Debbie, and all her extended family members, her IHM family, especially the sisters of Lourdes Community, her many dear friends, and all who knew her.

The following is part of a poem written by Mary Oliver expressing her thoughts about how she hoped to approach the idea of death. I think the words capture how Jo Ann sought to live her own life, and truly how she did live it.

When Death Comes

by Mary Oliver

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular. . .
When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Rest assured, Jo Ann, none of us has any doubt that your life was indeed something very particular and real and special, and you were never a mere visitor anywhere you went. You were fully alive and fully invested in all around you and we have been blessed by your presence among us. Your one candle, your one heart, surely brought light and joy to thousands of others. So as we gather around this table today, may we resolve to be examples of God’s love and care for others and may we be blessed by our own faith and hope in the resurrected Jesus and rejoice in the same God who today enfolds Jo Ann in loving arms of eternal peace and joy.

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