MOUNT ANGEL —  Benedictine Sisters Judith Bloxham, Jerome Zerr and 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 was born and raised in Oakridge. She entered Queen of Angels Monastery in 1962, the same year that she graduated from the Sisters’ Mount Angel College with a bachelor's degree in education. She then embarked on a 30-year teaching career in both parochial and public schools in the Willamette Valley. Sister Joan earned a master's degree in education from Western Oregon University. 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, Sr. Joan began working at Shalom Prayer Center, one of the Sisters' major ministries.                                                                                                                 

"I have seen a tremendous amount of change," Sr. Joan said. "I was taught and trained in spirituality during the pre-Vatican II era, but have done all of my ministry in the post-Vatican II church. I have seen the laity claim their role (as spiritual ministers) and it has been very important to me to be flexible to the needs of the people, just as my community has been."

Sister Judith grew up in California, educated by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. She entered that community after graduating from high school.

She professed temporary vows in 1964, and then attended Marymount College to complete her bachelor's degree in English literature. In 1974, she enrolled in a master's degree program in theology at Mount Angel Seminary and met the Benedictine Sisters. Several years later, she transferred her vows to Queen of Angels Monastery. Her mother, a Benedictine oblate, said she always knew her daughter would become a Benedictine.        

Sister Judith served in pastoral ministry at St. Paul Parish in Silverton, and as director of those entering the church at St. Mary Parish in Mount Angel. She served as formation director for her community and in 1994 began working in the formation program at Mount Angel Seminary, and has helped create programs for seminarians.

“I really do believe in our community," Sister Judith said. “The sisters I live with are a blessing to our society and the world, and I see God working powerfully through our monastic communities."

Sister Jerome was born and raised in Portland. Following her father's death in 1957, her mother moved the family to Mount Angel to care for ailing family members and to be closer to Sister Jerome's brother, the future Abbot Bonaventure Zerr, who 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, and also taught at Sacred Heart School in Portland. In 1977, she began teaching at Central Catholic High School part-time, while continuing to teach at Sacred Heart. She continues to teach English and assist in athletics at Central.

"When I entered (religious life), my intention was to work for the Church," Sr. Jerome said. "The community gave me that opportunity by giving me the spiritual life and an education to be part of a teaching ministry. I feel that I have received so much more than I have ever given."