2015 Jubilarian – Lois (Mary Jerome) Jackson
Sister Lois Jackson moved from Detroit to Dearborn with her family when she was in second grade; she attended Sacred Heart School. Between junior and senior years in high school, she spent two weeks at Grailville center for lay spirituality and action in Ohio, experiencing community living in the spirit of the early Church. “It was the first time I realized we are the church,” she says.
Her religious calling came to fruition after this experience. Sister Lois’ parents were sad to see the oldest of their three daughters leave them but supported her decision to join the IHMs right after high school. She embraced her postulancy as an “adventure.” She was anxious to go on mission and got the opportunity a year earlier than her classmates.
She taught sixth grade at St. Mary of Redford for a year; grades six and eight at Christ the King in Detroit for three years; and grades seven and eight at St. Joseph, Erie, Mich. for five years. She taught English classes for a year at Immaculate Heart of Mary High School in Westchester, Ill., and three years at Port Huron Catholic Central.
When Catholic Central closed, Sister Lois was invited to be minister of education at St. Stephen in Port Huron; next she was director of religious education for St. Ives parish in Southfield, Mich., then associate pastor at Holy Name Parish in Birmingham, Mich. She completed master’s degrees, in counseling from Oakland University and in institutional administration from Notre Dame. She also holds master’s degrees in education (Marygrove College) and in religious studies (University of Detroit).
Following her tenure at Holy Name, Sister Lois became the director of St. Mary Center for Lifelong Learning in Monroe. After five years, she was elected to IHM central administration serving as coordinator of material resources. Her six-year term completed, she became associate director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in Maryland where she planned meetings and managed the budget for seven years. Finally, she was executive assistant to the president at the National Office of the Jesuits of the United States in Washington for twelve years.
Other activities have included membership on civic and diocesan committees, volunteer crisis center counseling, ecumenical, youth, and senior groups.
Sister Lois has appreciated the way the IHM community has grown together, walked together in insights and “even our way of praying together has developed a togetherness in how we listen to and move with the signs of the times.”
For the last 12 years, she has enjoyed taking the city bus back and forth to work. “I have been touched and feel a sacredness just being with people in an intimate random gathering on a bus,” she notes. “The presence of God is evident there.”
Sister Lois is grateful for “the adventure and good health along the way, and the opportunities and the people I’ve met” since joining the community. She has recently retired and plans to catch up with family and friends, reading, relaxing and volunteering.