Fifty years ago, Sister Mary Joan Hopper’s call to religious life was influenced by the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill who taught her. She entered the congregation from Sacred Heart Parish, Pittsburgh, on September 8, 1964. “I was fortunate to have some amazingly forward-thinking, creative teachers. They told us about the accomplishments of the Sisters of Charity––like building a college, starting an art department, writing music, and missions in the west,” recalled Sister Mary Joan. “They were reaching out in the world and I thought that being part of that would be so exciting! It has been and still is!” she acknowledged.
Sister Mary Joan has been a dedicated teacher for 46 years. She is a member Kappa Delta Pi, an International Honor Society in Education; a recipient of the Diocese of Pittsburgh Golden Apple Award, given in recognition of outstanding teaching ability and commitment to Catholic education; a featured teacher in the Diocese of Pittsburgh Superintendent’s Report; and winner of the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science Leadership Training Scholarship. Currently, Sister Mary Joan teaches art to students in grades K–eight at East Catholic School, Forest Hills, PA. An art teacher since 1980, she stays current with ever-changing technology in order to provide a quality educational experience for her students. “I have always enjoyed working with children,” commented Sister Mary Joan. “They can do amazing art when taught and encouraged to develop their imagination and creativity.” Having earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in art at Seton Hill University, a diploma in digital design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and a master’s degree in art education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Sister has also taught mathematics, science, religion, reading, and language arts.
Her passion for art has been an integral part of Sister Mary Joan’s life, both personal and professional. Using her photography skills, she combines traditional art media with digital design and fiber art. Sister has used her talents and experience in volunteer ministries that include teaching CCD in the Diocese of Greensburg, teaching at summer art camps, and visiting teens at a juvenile correction facility. In 2006, Sister Mary Joan was instrumental in the establishment of the Seton Arts Service Corps Program. She served as assistant director of this collaborative venture of the Sisters of Charity and Seton Hill University. The program brings together children living in underserved communities with fine arts scholars from Seton Hill University; the scholars encourage the children to express themselves through music, art and drama. Throughout her religious life, Sister Mary Joan has always been willing to lend her creativity for the benefit of the congregation through service on various community committees.
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