In her longtime ministry as a psychiatric nurse, Sister Jeanette Clarke, SDS found compassion and understanding to be as vital to restoring wellness as medication and therapy.
Sr. Jeanette’s dedication to psychiatric nursing offered hope to many patients and families dealing with major and chronic mental illness. She says mental illness is a family disease in more ways than one. Not only can genetic factors increase the risk of developing diseases of the brain, mental illness can impact parents, siblings, a spouse and children when it triggers behaviors that interfere with employment, social interaction and personal relationships.
Sr. Jeanette says, “It’s rewarding for me to see people overcome crisis periods in their lives and cope with the ongoing challenges of mental illness.” She believes her deep faith and the support she receives from living in community with other Salvatorian Sisters enabled her to continue this much needed healing ministry. Except for six years when she served in leadership for the North American Province, Sr. Jeanette’s ministry has been in nursing care. She retired after serving on the mental health and addictions unit at St. Francis Hospital in Milwaukee. She previously ministered at St. Michael Hospital in Milwaukee, and in Wausau, Wis. at St. Mary’s Hospital and Wausau Hospital North.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Marquette University, Sr. Jeanette studied adult psychiatric nursing at Wayne State University in Detroit. Born and raised in Milwaukee, she came to know the Sisters of the Divine Savior when she attended Mother of Good Counsel Parish School and Divine Savior High School. She especially remembers their kindness and enthusiasm for teaching.
“I was really impressed with Salvatorian Sisters I had as teachers and with the lives they led,” says Sr. Jeanette. “If a young woman were to ask me about exploring religious life today, I would encourage her to get to know the Salvatorian Sisters and learn about our way of life and mission.”
Sr. Jeanette celebrated 50 years as a Sister of the Divine Savior in 2012.