Sister Josie Sanchez died peacefully on October 28, 2020. There is so much to tell about Sister Josie, her joy for life, her lifelong love for music, her playfulness, her creativity expressed in fun skits which she composed and directed, her life as a teacher and her life ministering to people in poverty. Sister Josie lived her life to the fullest.
Born on March 1, 1935 in Monte Vista, Colorado to Jose Pulidor Sanchez and Senida Sandoval Sanchez, Sister Josie was baptized Maria Richardita Fedelina. As the oldest, Josie took on many responsibilities caring for her siblings. She would say, “We didn’t have much, but we always had each other.” Sister Josie’s call from God to become a sister was influenced by one of her teachers who helped her with translating English to Spanish for her parents.
In high school, Josie came to know the Benedictine sisters of Mt. St. Scholastica. One of the sisters asked her if she wanted to be a sister- she said, “Yes, but I don’t want to teach.” God had other ideas. Josie entered Mt. St. Scholastica in 1953 and made her final monastic profession in 1958. She taught Kindergarten through middle school children, was a school principle and teacher for disabled students in Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado for the next forty years.
Teaching was a great joy for Sister Josie; so much so that after earning her BA in Elementary Education from Regis College, Denver, she completed a MA in Learning Disabilities from the University of Northern Colorado, Greeley. She taught in the Huerfano in Walsenburg, CO as a special needs teacher for eight years.
At the center of Sister Josie’s life was her love for God and her commitment to the Benedictine way of life. She became one of the charter members of Benet Hill Monastery in Colorado Springs in 1965. She served the community as Assistant Prioress from 1991-1995 and then moved to Alamosa, CO for a new ministry, coordinating Christian Community Services. This new ministry involved bringing church service groups from all over the country to do repairs and painting on the homes of the poor. Bringing young adults and teens together with the poor in her area was a ministry of compassion for Sister Josie. She recalled a Buddhist saying, “A generous heart, gentle speech and a life of service and compassion renews humanity.”
In her later years, Sister Josie was the director of Benet Pines Retreat Center in the Black Forest. She also taught in Grand junction for a while as a religion teacher for migrant families. She was again translating English to Spanish on behalf of the parents and prepared the children to receive the sacraments. Her life had come full circle.
Music was a passion for Sister Josie; she cantered at the Liturgy of the Hours, Sunday Eucharistic celebrations, sang in choirs, in Benet Hill Academy’s Dad and Daughter shows and other community celebrations. One of her favorite songs was Eris Tu which she sang at a community celebration only a few months ago.
Sister Josie is preceded in death by her parents, her brother Tommy Sanchez and her sister Ruth Garcia. She is survived by her sister Theresa Sanchez, brothers Richard Sanchez and Ted Sanchez and by numerous nieces and nephews.
Sister Josie was a woman steeped in life and love. Her deep love for God carried her through life’s difficulties and filled her with joyful song. Sharing that joy through music was her gift to all who knew her. If there are any words that can capture Sister Josie’s life, they would be, “Still singing a joyful song, now in the choirs of heaven.” She will be greatly missed by her community and her family that she loved so deeply.