Joan Gagner was born in Detroit, Michigan on November 20, 1919, the daughter of Frederick and Pauline (Mazurowski) Gagner. Joan was a member of St. Bernard Parish in Detroit at the time of her entrance into the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth on June 19, 1937. She received the name Sister Charles Marie at her reception on January 7, 1938, later returning to her baptismal name. She pronounced first vows on January 8, 1940 and final vows on January 8, 1943.
Sister Joan earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Nazareth College followed by a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Detroit. She spent 47 years in the field of education, both as a teacher and administrator in many schools of the Congregation including: St. Benedict, Highland Park; St. John Vianney, Flint; St. Ambrose, Parchment; and St. Anthony, Hillsdale. From 1979-87 she was the Religious Education Coordinator at St. Martin Church in Vicksburg.
In 1987 Sister Joan retired from teaching and became a pastoral minister at Fontbonne Manor at Nazareth. There she tenderly cared for the elderly and infirm sisters, sat with the dying, and served as Eucharistic minister, lector, and presider for Chapel services. She moved through her day with a smile and a quiet, soft-spoken manner that radiated her concern for people. She felt that her continuing awareness of God was enhanced by relationships. “Contacts with my friends, family, Sisters and lay counterparts,” she said at the time of her Golden Jubilee, “have taught me much about the beauty and sacredness of life”. Throughout the years she enjoyed a close relationship with her sister, Frances. Sister Joan’s favorite passage from Scripture was, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me.” (John 14:1). Now the God she so trusted in life has taken her home to Himself.Body brought home Tuesday August 2, 2016 after 4pm; Vigil Service: Tuesday August 2, 2016 at 7pm; Mass of Christian Burial: Wednesday August 3, 2016 at 10:30am.