Sister Judith Bloxham, Sister Jerome Zerr and Sister Joan Pokorny celebrated the 50th anniversary of their monastic professions on July 20 before community members, family and friends in the Queen of Angels Monastery Chapel.
Sister Joan Pokorny was born and raised in Oakridge, one of six children of George and Olga Pokorny. She entered the Benedictine community at Queen of Angels Monastery in 1962, the same year that she graduated from Mount Angel College with a bachelors degree in education. She then embarked on a 30-year teaching career in both parochial and public schools in the Willamette Valley. She also earned a masters degree in education from Western Oregon University (then known as Oregon College of Education). Among the highlights of her long teaching career were organizing math and speech tournaments, coaching softball and basketball, and leading camping trips.
Following her retirement from teaching in 1996, Sister Joan began working at Shalom Prayer Center, one of the Benedictine Sisters major ministries. She was director from 1999 to 2008. Today, serves as director of Shaloms Spiritual Director Training Program, an intensive two-year program leading to certification for spiritual directors.
Sister Joan, who also has a masters degree in theology from Seattle University, has been especially active and informed in the area of spirituality during her 18-year tenure at Shalom. She has been a spiritual director, retreat leader and teacher throughout this time.
Sister Joan said a highlight of her 50 years as a Benedictine has been the goodness of people and the endurance of relationships.
Sister Judith Bloxham grew up in Southern California, with her earliest years spent in Alhambra and Arcadia. Her family moved to Monterey, Calif., where she attended a school run by the Dominican Sisters, and later to Los Angeles.
She made her temporary profession of vows in 1964, and then attended Marymount College to complete her bachelors degree in English literature. In 1974 Sister Judith enrolled in a masters degree program in theology at Mount Angel Seminary and, the same summer, made a two-week retreat at Shalom Prayer Center. Thats when she became acquainted with the Benedictine Sisters of Mount Angel. On the 15th anniversary of her religious profession, she transferred her vows to Queen of Angels Monastery.
After completing her masters degree and becoming a Benedictine in 1979, Sister Judith served in pastoral ministry at St. Paul Parish in Silverton, and as director of Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults at St. Mary Parish in Mount Angel. She also served as formation director for her community for five years. In 1994 Sister Judith began working in the formation program at Mount Angel Seminary and has continued in that ministry for the past 20 years. The sisters I live with are a blessing to our society and the world, and I see God working powerfully through our monastic communities, she said.
Sister Jerome Zerr was born and raised in Portland, one of two children of Peter and Elizabeth Zerr. Following her fathers passing in 1957, her mother moved the family to Mount Angel where Sister Jeromes brother, the future Abbot Bonaventure Zerr, had entered Mount Angel Seminary. Sister Jerome attended high school at Mount Angel Academy, and entered the Benedictine community a few months after her graduation in 1962.
She graduated from Mount Angel College in 1969 and, later, did graduate work at Portland State University and the University of Portland. She began her teaching career at Kennedy High School in Mount Angel in 1967. She has also taught at Sacred Heart School in Portland and Central Catholic High School, where she still teaches English and works in the athletics department. This will be her 38th year at Central Catholic.
Religious life enables me to have a life of prayer and dedication to the church, while teaching allows me to work with young people in helping them learn and grow into strong and confident adults, she said. It always gives me great pleasure to see the results of their years at Central Catholic.