When Sister Jane (Sr. Jane Marie) Eschweiler, SDS celebrated her 40th Jubilee in 2008, she said, “My vows are more relevant than ever as a witness of alternative values in our world that tends towards greed and violence.” Her words still ring true in 2018.
Sr. Jane is a Milwaukee native taught by Salvatorian Sisters at Mother of Good Counsel Grade School and Divine Savior High School. “The Sisters were my role models, and I felt called to prayer and service in community at a very early age. I also had three aunts who were Franciscans and three uncles who were priests in the Milwaukee Archdiocese.”
Today, many people know Sr. Jane from her 12 years on the Jordan Ministry Team (JMT). Traveling to schools and parishes in the sprawling Diocese of Tucson, Ariz., she led catechist certification classes, retreats and workshops to train the laity for ministry. Sr. Jane calls Jordan Ministry “an investment in the future of our Church.”
Her master’s degree in pastoral studies from Chicago’s Loyola University and experience as a high school teacher, retreat leader and pastoral associate were gifts to the JMT. She put her work on hold briefly in 2006 to lead spirituality workshops for Salvatorians in India, and again in summer 2009 to teach English as a second language to Salvatorian Sisters in Africa.
After retiring from JMT in 2015, Sr. Jane wanted to adapt her pastoral work to a hospital setting. She felt God’s creative Spirit at work when she was asked to help lead Eucharistic services in a Tucson hospital chapel. Patients tune in via closed-circuit TV. Sr. Jane says, “It blends ministry to the sick with my preaching fervor. And, since I’ve been a patient many times, I draw on what I’d want to hear spun off the Word of God.”
Sr. Jane also offers spiritual direction for deacons-to-be, and continues training lay ministry candidates for the Tucson diocese. She finds joy in helping them discover their growing spirituality. Her prison ministry often has the same effect. Several times a month, she visits women at a county jail and men at a facility northwest of Tucson, places she calls fertile ground.
“Incarcerated people have time to think about what really matters in life. Many folks in prison are transformed by grace, and I love being part of that mystery. It gives me hope.”