“I WILL SING FOREVER OF YOUR LOVE… IS A BIBLE VERSE WITH SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE AS I REFLECT ON 60 YEARS OF VOWED LIFE. I CARRY A SONG OF THANKSGIVING IN MY HEART.”
Sister Josie is the oldest of six children born to John and Senida Sanchez in Monte Vista, Colorado. Her family would spend Sundays after Mass packing up the truck with picnic foods then heading to Rock Creek in the San Luis Valley where they hiked and explored. She would look back over her shoulder and see her dad fishing and watch her mother dangle her feet in the stream.
She was in the 8th grade at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in her hometown of Monte Vista, Colorado, when she heard her first call. Sister Josie got to know the Benedictines from Atchison when her mother would volunteer her to help them, or when she served as her interpreter. In 1953 she entered Mount Saint Scholastica Convent in Atchison, Kansas. She loved the big chapel, the chanting and especially the singing. Sister Josie became a charter member of Benet Hill in 1963. She received a B.S. in Elementary Education from Regis College and an M.A. in Special Education of the Developmentally Disabled from the University of Northern Colorado.
Sister Josie ended up spending 40 years as a Benedictine educator. She taught in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. In Colorado she taught in Antonito, Conejos, at Divine Redeemer in Colorado Springs and St. Cajetan’s in Denver. During her 18 years in Walsenburg, she spent ten years as a teacher and principal at St. Mary’s School and eight years as head teacher at Huerfano County Community School for the Disabled. Sister Josie also served as principal and teacher at Sacred Heart Cathedral and John Neumann schools in Pueblo.
Still singing a joyful song, Sister Josie served as assistant prioress, then made a ministry transition to her native San Luis Valley. For six years she worked at Christian Community Services as a service projects coordinator overseeing home repairs for senior citizens, widows and immigrants. Then she served as Religious Education Coordinator at Sangre de Cristo Parish in San Luis and taught at St. Andrew Avelino Youth Guild in the after school program. “Working with kids made me feel young again,” she says.
Sister Josie was the Director at Benet Pines Retreat Center. She took one day at a time; listened to the wind in the pine trees and joined the birds in song. She warmly welcomed and shared prayer, laughter and stories with all who came to share in the peace of the Pines.
That peace was interrupted from 2007 -2009 while the new Benet Hill Monastery was being built. Sister Josie maintained a positive attitude, a sense of humor and continued to sing God’s praises in the midst of the transition. “I helped the whole community move into the new facilities.”
Currently she is ministering with her sisters in Whitewater, Colorado. Sister Josie has taught and prepared the migrant children and families for First Reconciliation and First Communion. She has helped with the Religious Education Program at St. Joseph Parish in Grand Junction, and volunteers to take communion to those in the hospital.