Sister Mary Joan Hopper, SC, in her 59th year of religious life

SISTER MARY JOAN HOPPER, SC, age 77, entered eternal life at Caritas Christi, the motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill in Greensburg on May 19, 2023 in her 59th  year of religious life.  A Pittsburgh native, Sister Mary Joan entered the congregation of the Sisters of Charity on September 8, 1964, from Sacred Heart Parish, Shadyside.  She was preceded in death by her parents, John F. and Anna (Janetka) Hopper, and a brother, James. She is survived by two brothers, Joseph and John; three sisters, Mrs. Annie (Bernie) Harkins, Mrs. Martha (John) Brosky, Mrs. Cathy (Jay) Black; nieces, nephews and her religious community.  

Sister Mary Joan earned a bachelor’s degree in English and art from Seton Hill University and a master’s degree in art education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  She taught middle school students in the Greensburg, Pittsburgh dioceses and the Archdiocese of Baltimore.  Her longest tenure (1980-2004) was at Saint Therese School in Munhall where she taught art in all grades; she then taught at Word of God and East Catholic Schools. Parents loved of how she could excite her students to create works of art.

Her passion for art was an integral part of Sister Mary Joan’s life, both personal and professional.  Using her photography skills, she combined traditional art media with digital design and fiber art.  In 1995, Sister Joan was honored with the Golden Apple Award from the Diocese of Pittsburgh in recognition of her outstanding teaching ability and commitment to Catholic education, exemplary leadership qualities and service to church, school and community.

In 2006, Sister Mary Joan was instrumental in the establishment of the Seton Arts Service Corps.  She served as assistant director of this collaborative venture of the Sisters of Charity and Seton Hill University’s fine arts scholars.  Together they created an art program to reach under-served communities. This program continues today, offering children an opportunity to express themselves through music, art and drama, while teaching future educators about the Vincentian-Setonian tradition of service to others. 

When Sister Mary Joan was asked about her teaching philosophy, she responded, “I try to provide opportunities to use thinking processes not always found in other areas of the curriculum.  I take seriously the goal of educating the whole child.  For a child, art has the potential to be a dynamic, unifying agent. It is a visual expression of how a person thinks, sees and feels. They may or not pursue a career directly related to art, but my hope is that they will live on the creative edge of their world and be better able to contribute their own unique gifts for the service of humankind and further the values of love, justice, and peace by the way they live.”

Sister Mary Joan retired to Caritas Christi in 2021 and enjoyed leading art classes with other retired sisters.  The Sisters of Charity are grateful to the Congregation’s nursing services and employees for their dedicated care of Sister Mary Joan during her last years at Caritas Christi.

When reflecting on her religious life, Sister Mary Joan recalled, “I was fortunate to have amazingly forward-thinking, creative teachers who told us about the accomplishments of the Sisters of Charity.  They were reaching out to the world and I thought that being part of the community would be so exciting!  It has been.”

Rest in peace, Sister Mary Joan, as you enter into the heavenly place prepared for you to be with Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Company of Charity.

Family and friends will be received on Sunday, May 21, 2023 at Caritas Christi Motherhouse, 129 DePaul Center Road, Greensburg, PA from 2 pm to 7:00 pm.  A prayer vigil with sharing of memories in the Chapel of Assumption will follow at 7:00 pm. 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 am on Monday, May 22, 2023.

Burial in the Sisters’ Cemetery will immediately follow mass. The funeral liturgy will be live-streamed, access through the link:


Memorial contributions may be made to the Sisters of Charity, DePaul Center Road, 144 DePaul Center Road, Greensburg, PA 15601.  For more information visit the website,


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