Sister Jo Anne Becker, SSMN, (1934-2012) remembered for musical talent, cheerful demeanor

By Jenara Kocks Burgess

Correspondent

Sister Jo Anne Becker, SSMN

Sister Jo Anne Becker, a Sister of St. Mary of Namur who was known for her musical talent and cheerful demeanor, died Tuesday, July 3, 2012.

The sisters gathered for a Scriptural Rosary at 4 p.m., and a Vigil service was held at 7 p.m., July 5, at Our Lady of Victory Center. Mass of Christian Burial was held at OLV Center with interment at Mount Olivet Cemetery on July 6.

Sister Jo Anne was born in San Antonio on Sept. 2, 1934, to H.P. Becker and Clara Mangelsen. After graduating from Our Lady of Good Counsel Academy in Dallas, she attended Our Lady of Victory College and later earned a Bachelor of Arts in music from Incarnate Word College in San Antonio.

Sister Devota Sweeney, former provincial of the sisters’ Western Province, visited OLGC Academy in Dallas when Jo Anne was a senior in high school and remembered how she played the piano and guitar. She was the one who accepted Jo Anne into the congregation of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur. She recalls that she was a very happy, fun-loving, and very thoughtful person.

Sr. Jo Anne entered the congregation of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur in 1953, taking the name Sister Mary Martin in honor of St. Martin de Porres. Sister Mary Martin took her perpetual vows on Aug. 6, 1961.

She taught in the following Sisters of Saint Mary of Namur-staffed elementary schools: St. Maria Goretti in Arlington, St. Alice in Fort Worth, St. Edward’s Academy in Dallas, Shrine of the True Cross and Resurrection School in Dickinson, Texas (near Houston), and St. Anne School in Porterville, California. With her gift for music, she worked with the bands in several of these schools.

“Sister Jo Anne Becker was a favorite singing and music teacher among the youth of True Cross School in Dickinson,” said Sister Camilla Menotti. She recalled many fond memories of her life there.

Sr. Jo Anne ministered at a detention facility in Houston and in 1979, during her last years there, illness required that she come to Our Lady of Victory where she remained in the infirmary until her death.

“She accepted her illness with an unusual strength and was able to keep up her spirits. She was truly an inspiration for all of us,” said Sister Barbara Wilson, who was with her in Houston at the beginning of her illness.

Mike Wuller, Sr. Jo Anne’s friend who has volunteered for many parishes and diocesan ministries over the years, said he met Sr. Jo Anne at St. Andrew Church near Texas Christian University where his volunteer work began in 1975. Around that time, Sr. Jo Anne helped lead a Life in the Spirit Seminar at St. Andrew’s for TCU students and St. Andrew’s members. Many of those in the seminar later came together to help form the Family of God Charismatic Community. Wuller said she still continued to attend the St. Andrew’s prayer meetings as long as she was able.

“She had a particular outreach by phone to all she knew, recalling phone numbers of many, brightening their lives with her joke of the day, even through recent years,” Wuller said.

He said Sr. Jo Anne always really enjoyed visiting her family in Waco and visits from the Dallas part of the family at times, especially at the celebrations of her years of vows.

She is survived by her sister, Gertrude Hafertepe and husband, Herman; a brother, Joe Becker and wife, Diane; nieces; nephews; and the community of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur.

Sister Jo Anne Becker, a Sister of St. Mary of Namur who was known for her musical talent and cheerful demeanor, died Tuesday, July 3, 2012. The sisters gathered for a Scriptural Rosary at 4 p.m., and a Vigil service was held at 7 p.m., July 5, at Our Lady of Victory Center. Mass of Christian Burial was held at OLV Center with interment at Mount Olivet Cemetery on July 6.

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