In Memory

Sister Joan Katoski, IHM

December 17, 1940 – February 5, 2024

Sister Joan Katoski, IHM, (formerly known as Sister M. Brenda) of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary died on Monday, February 5, 2024, at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

Born on December 17, 1940, in Washington, DC, she was the daughter of the late John Louis and Genevieve Kadish Katoski. She entered the IHM Congregation on September 8, 1958, made temporary profession of her vows on March 11, 1961, and her final profession of vows on March 11, 1966. Sister Joan received a Bachelor of Music degree in piano/organ and a Master of Science degree in theological studies both from Marywood College, and a Master of Music degree in music education from West Chester University.

Sister Joan served as a teacher at the following schools: All Saints High School in Masontown, PA, in 1961; St. Basil Elementary School in Dushore, PA, from 1961 to 1964; Immaculate Conception Elementary School in West Pittston, PA, from 1964 to 1969; Our Lady of Mount Carmel Elementary School in Asbury Park, NJ, from 1969 to 1971 and 1988 to 1990; St. Rosalia Elementary School in Pittsburgh, PA, from 1971 to 1972; Most Holy Rosary Elementary School in Syracuse, NY, from 1972 to 1978; St. John the Evangelist Elementary School in Silver Spring, MD, from 1978 to 1981; St. Dominic Elementary and High Schools in Oyster Bay, NY, from 1986 to 1988; and Notre Dame Elementary School in East Stroudsburg, PA, from 1990 to 1997.

Sister Joan served as principal at Epiphany Elementary School in Sayre, PA, from 1981 to 1986.

Sister served as the music minister at St. Jude’s Parish in Mountaintop, PA, from 1997 to 2005. She was the coordinator of liturgical ministries at St. John’s Parish in East Stroudsburg, PA, from 2005 to 2011.

From 2011 until the time of her death, Sister Joan was a prayer minister at Our Lady of Peace Residence in Scranton, PA.

Sister Joan is survived by a brother, Robert of Brunswick, GA; two sisters, Marcia Schooley of Levittown, PA, and Cynthia of Horsham, PA; nieces and nephews. She is also survived by the members of the IHM Congregation.

The funeral will be Thursday, February 15, at 11:00 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Peace Residence, 1510 University Avenue in Dunmore, PA. Friends may call at Our Lady of Peace Residence on Thursday, February 15, between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. A prayer service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Interment will follow Mass on Thursday at St. Catherine’s Cemetery in Moscow, PA.

Memorial contributions may be made to support the retired Sisters of IHM c/o the Sisters of IHM Retirement Fund or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Prayer of Remembrance and Funeral Mass


Reflection given by Sister Grace Surdovel, IHM Leadership Team Member

In preparation for this reflection, I reached out to Joan’s dear friends Sisters Jan Marie, Dottie and Mary Alice.  What they shared mirrored my own experience of Joan when we ministered together at Notre Dame in East Stroudsburg many years ago.

In all her encounters, Joan brought a joy and energy that was contagious. Music was Joan’s life. Even during difficult times, Joan would find the joy only music and a profound faith in God can bring. Joan was always singing or humming as she was doing household chores, walking, or planning her lessons. She was enthusiastic, welcoming, and fun to live with. Joan enjoyed being with people and enjoyed time with family and friends.  She loved her lobster dinners at Coopers with Jan Marie, sharing a meal with friends or her local community and long conversations with her family. She had a passion for walking and was always keeping track of her steps whether she was walking in nature or doing the many stairs in the convent. Joan was always in motion, with a smile on her face and a song in her heart. In good times and those that were more challenging, Joan found a reason to rejoice, usually through song. Even after illness limited her physical abilities, Joan found solace in the presence of music in her daily life. It seems that Music was part of Joan’s DNA.

In a work entitled, The Gift to Sing, poet James Weldon Johnson reflects this same love of music and song. I find the words of this poem reflective of Joan’s spirit of joy and love of music. A spirit so evident in today’s celebration of Joan’s life. I offer this poem in memory of our dear Joan who shared her loving, musical spirit with us all.

Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh I have a magic way
To Turn the gloom to cheerful day-
I softly sing.

And if the way grows darker still,
Shadowed by Sorrow’s somber wing,
With glad defiance in my throat,
I pierce the darkness with a note,
And sing, and sing.

I brood not over the broken past,
Nor dread whatever time may bring;
No nights are dark, no days are long,
While in my heart there swells a song,
And I can sing.

As we remember our dear Joan today, may we do so by piercing the darkness with a note.

Well done good and faithful servant. May you join the choir of angels in your eternal resting place.  Know that we rejoice in the gift you have been to each of us and pray you home into the loving arms of your lord.

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