Sister Mary John Van Atta, SSJ, 88 - Catholic Courier

Sister Mary John Van Atta, SSJ, 88

Sister of St. Joseph Mary John Van Atta died Dec. 23, 2016. She was 88 years old.

She entered the congregation in 1946 from her home parish of St. Margaret Mary in Irondequoit. She earned a bachelor’s degree in art and history in 1951 and a master’s of arts in English in 1964, both from Nazareth College.

She taught at St. Mary, Elmira; St. Joseph, Wayland; and St. Agnes High School, Rochester.

From 1964-75, she served as a director of public relations and communications for the congregation.

After working for a year as pastoral assistant at Ithaca’s Immaculate Conception Parish, Sister Van Atta spent some time studying in Orange, Calif., and then enrolled in a research program at the University of Rochester for five years. She then served as a process consultant for both the UR and the congregation.

She served on the board of directors for the Courier-Journal (now Catholic Courier) from 1986-88.

In 1991, she was elected to the congregational leadership team. After four years of service, she returned to her consultation work. In 1998 she became the congregation’s website coordinator.

She is survived by her friends and her sisters in the congregation.

Her funeral liturgy was celebrated at the motherhouse chapel in Pittsford on Dec. 28, 2016, with burial at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Contributions in her memory may be made to the Sisters of St. Joseph Ministry Fund at or 150 French Road, Rochester, NY 14618.


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