How Franciscan Sister Came to Be a Diocesan Director of Religious Education

Paul Keggington

December 02, 2011

In a recent Diocese of Green Bay Connection to Education insert, Christine Corbett Conklin, Special Projects Writer, writes about Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Jacqueline Spaniola coming on board as Director of Religious Education. We share it one more time here.

Called to Be a Nurse?

If life had gone a little differently, the Diocese of Green Bay would have missed an opportunity to have Sister Jacqueline Spaniola as a part of our Department of Education. You see, Sister Jacqueline, who began work in August as the new Director of Religious Education, had originally been thinking about becoming a nurse.

Her nurse’s aide course, in her first year of formation to be a Sister, was going along reasonably well. She even spent extra hours at the hospital on Saturdays to see if this was what she really wanted to do. Then,  she had a little surprise.

“I almost fainted twice at the sight of blood,” she recalled. So, it was on to the field of education for Sister Jacqueline!

From Education to Religious Education  

“I love my faith and I want to be able to share it with others, ” she observed.
Sister brings strong credentials to her new position with the Department of Education. A native of Swartz Creek, Michigan, she holds a B.A. in education from Silver Lake College of the Holy Family, an M.A. in Christian spirituality from Creighton University and a second M.A. in theology from St. Charles Borremeo Seminary. She taught in grades five through eight for 23 years, did vocatons work for 5 years and has spent the past 10 years as a religious education coordinator and director. Most recently, she served as the Adult Formation Director in St. Peter the Fisherman Parish in Two Rivers. 
“I have been impressed by many of the educators I have already met throughout the Diocese,” Sister said. “These are talented and dedicated individuals, in the schools, in religious education programs and in the Department of Education, and I feel certain that we can accomplish good things together.”
“I am excited to be able to impact the Church on a broader scale in my new position, to help teachers and religious education staff to better know their faith and pass it on,” she observed. In her first year as Director of Religious Education for the Diocese, Sister’s priorities include helping to “refine the curriculum” for both Catholic schools and religious education programs to better reflect the Four Pillars of the Catholic Church: creed, liturgy and the sacraments, morality, and prayer. She also will focus on “refining the certification process”: for classroom teachers and religious education instructors, helping to pinpoint which classes are necessary for them to take.

Known for Secret Recipe

Of course, in addition to her extensive experience in the educational field, Sister admits that she brings a guaranteed crowd-pleaser to her new position.

“Everywhere I go, people ask me, “Are you going to make your famous popcorn?” I don’t know what’s so special about it, but everyone really seems to enjoy it!” (Hint: The secret, she says, is in using white popcorn, a little extra oil and salting popcorn in layers while it’s still hot.)

The Department of Education is pleased to welcome Sister Jacqueline Spaniola to our ranks!

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