As a child, Sister Carol Jean Zais, SDS (Sr. Mary Job) rode her bike four miles to the two-room Sacred Heart School in Edson, Wis. She liked to stay after to help her teachers ready their classrooms for the next day. It’s how she first came to know the Sisters of the Divine Savior.
“I found the Salvatorian Sisters to be warm and welcoming,” Sr. Carol Jean says. Now she’s on the welcoming end.
In her vocation ministry, Sr. “CJ” hosts visits from women who are discerning a call to religious life. As novice directress, Sr. CJ also leads new members in formation studies. She finds her current ministry challenging yet exciting. Fewer women are entering religious life than when she made first vows in 1965, but women who connect with her are passionate about serving in an apostolic community. Sr. CJ is grateful for how her congregation was preparing her for vocation ministry, even while serving in education for many years.
“When you’re well trained, you can step into a new role and flex your skills and experience to serve in new ways,” Sr. CJ says.
Sr. Carol Jean’s four years as a principal in the Diocese of Green Bay in the 1990s were challenging yet exciting too. Tight budgets and shrinking enrollments pushed parish schools into survival mode. Under Sr. Carol Jean’s guidance, schools in Antigo, Wis. consolidated and became All Saints Catholic School System. She also served as principal at Sacred Heart School in Sauk Rapids, Minn., and taught in Wisconsin at St. Pius X, Wauwatosa; St. Mark’s in Rothschild; and Notre Dame Middle School in Chippewa Falls. Sr. Carol Jean served three years in Province leadership as well.
She earned a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University, and a master’s in education administration from the University of Wisconsin. She also earned a certificate from the Institute of Religious Formation at St. Louis University.
Still a teacher at heart, Sr. CJ encourages women to “be attentive to God’s call, find a good spiritual director, and do their homework by visiting several different religious communities.”