Devoted sister dies, leaves lasting legacy in Phoenix

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Sr. Joan Ann Pfeiffer (courtesy photo)
Sr. Joan Pfeiffer, SNDdeN, died Feb. 19. She was 80 and spent eight years in Arizona. (courtesy photo)

Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Joan Pfeiffer, former resident of the sisters’ Casa Guadalupe in Mesa who was heavily involved in hospital ministry at Chandler Regional Hospital, died Feb. 19 at the age of 80. She passed away at Mount Notre Dame Health Center in Reading, Ohio.

Sr. Joan served at Chandler Regional 1997-2002. She also spent a little over a year during that time as her community’s associate minister and new member welcome. Her compassion for others and generosity in serving them is remembered fondly by many recipients of her care.

Born Sept. 7, 1934 in Dayton, Ohio to the late Bernard Aloysius and Mary Elizabeth Pfeiffer, she felt called to enter the religious life in 1952. She chose to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in September of that year and she professed her final vows on Aug. 13, 1960.

Before arriving in Arizona, Sr. Joan spent 18 years teaching at grade schools in both Columbus and Dayton, Ohio. In addition to serving the very young, Sr. Joan also loved ministering to the elderly and spent several years assisting at various nursing homes, as well as group homes for mental health patients.

Sr. Joan moved to the valley in 1997. Sr. Margaret Campbell, SNDdeN, recalls that Sr. Joan made a deep impact on the people of Arizona. “I always think of Joan as being a very steady, positive person,” she said. “She was always bright and cheerful, never griping or complaining about anything, always seeing the brighter side of life.”

Sr. Carmen Silva, SNDdeN, remembers that Sr. Joan was a wonderful mentor during her early years of formation. “She was my mentor for about five or six years,” Sr. Silva said. “She was always lending and giving positive support but also giving direction and ideas. She was a very kind, quiet, wise, solid individual.”

Sr. Silva noted that in addition to serving as a pastoral care minister at Chandler Regional Hospital, Sr. Joan also did pastoral care and ministry at Resurrection Parish, to those who were elderly or confined to their homes in the Tempe area. “She also did some volunteer work with the Native American Community on the Salt River Pima Maricopa Reservation,” Sr. Silva said.

Both Sr. Campbell and Sr. Silva said that Sr. Joan will be remembered most for her upbeat spirit and constant giving. “She was extremely uplifting with anybody and everybody she was in communication with,” Sr. Silva said. “She gave her undivided attention to you and really heard you [and] was really present to where individuals were at. In the good times and the challenging times, she was always present.”

Sr. Joan is survived by her brothers, Dan and Fred, her sisters, Martha Frisby and Nora Rolfes, and many nieces and nephews and grandnieces and nephews. Visitation took place on Feb. 24 at the Saint Julie Chapel in the Mount Notre Dame Convent, followed immediately by the Mass of Christian Burial and interment.

Full obituary from the funeral home

By Lindsay Wantland, The Catholic Sun.

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