In Loving Memory of Sr. Alma Janousek, ND

(June 15, 1936 – July 8, 2024)

Sr. Alma Janousek, a Notre Dame Sister and cherished member of the community, passed away peacefully on July 8, 2024. Born on June 15, 1936, in Brainard, Nebraska, she was the devoted daughter of John and Anna Ratkovec. Sr. Alma was the third of four children. She is preceded in death by Parents John and Anna (Ratkovec) Janousek, Sisters: Alyce (Janousek) Cooney, Helen (Janousek) Jisa.  She is survived by Notre Dame Sisters; brother, John (sister-in-law Evelyn) Janousek; nieces and nephews, and many friends.

Sr. Alma’s life was marked by a deep commitment to faith and service. After graduating from Notre Dame Academy in 1954, she attended Duchesne College and made her profession as a Notre Dame Sister in 1956. Her career in education spanned over 25 years during which she was known as a kind and positive presence. Her ministry as an educator had its beginning at Assumption School in Omaha in 1957 and continued at Bishop Neumann in Clarkson, NE, in 1961. In 1964, she was appointed Superior at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Porcupine, South Dakota, and in 1969, she served as principal and teacher at Assumption School in Dwight, NE. Sr. Alma continued her leadership as principal at St. John Nepomucene School in Weston, NE, in 1976 and at St. Wenceslaus School in Wahoo, NE, from 1978 until 1981.

After 25 years as an educator, Sr. Alma’s passion for helping others led her to a new calling. and she pursued Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Topeka State Hospital in Kansas. She continued her training at Bethany Medical Center in Kansas City, KS, where she served as a full-time chaplain on the chemical dependent unit. In 1985, she became the chaplain at Valley Hope Treatment Center in O’Neill, NE, where she dedicated herself for 27 years.

Reflecting on her time as a chaplain, Sr. Alma wrote, “Life is full of many surprising adventures. After 25 years of being an elementary educator as a teacher and principal, I felt a call to a different ministry. So, I took classes to become a hospital chaplain. Valley Hope Treatment Center welcomes people to embrace a spiritual journey discovering a Higher Power/God in their lives. It provides an atmosphere of acceptance and respect for the individual in coming to accept their brokenness and begin to rebuild their lives.”

Sr. Alma found immense joy and fulfillment in her role as a chaplain. She planned prayer services, offering clients ways to accept life’s struggles and take things “One Day at a Time,” often using that song during services. She frequently led the “Serenity Prayer,” helping clients learn to change what they could, accept what they couldn’t, and gain the wisdom to know the difference. She was a compassionate witness to innumerable 5th steps shared by persons in their process of healing.

As a chaplain, Sr. Alma was privileged to share in the vulnerable parts of clients’ lives that needed healing. “To me, these were miracles right before my very eyes,” she said. These experiences deepened her own relationship with God and helped her accept her own humanness. “The years at Valley Hope were truly a gift from God for me. Not only those who came to be healed were changed and touched, but those of us who worked there also received bountiful blessings. Our God certainly works in surprising ways.”

In 2012, Sr. Alma retired and moved to Seven Oaks at Notre Dame, later transitioning to Immanuel Courtyard and Newport House due to medical needs. In her retirement, she enjoyed daily prayers with fellow Sisters and all forms of activity with her fellow nursing home residents: crafting, playing cards with friends, and bingo. She was a positive and active presence in every community in which she lived even as she experienced physical limitations brought on my Parkinson’s Disease.

Sr. Alma Janousek’s life was a testament to her faith, compassion, and dedication to serving others. Her legacy of love, kindness, and service will continue to inspire all who knew her.

Memorials may be directed to the Notre Dame Sisters.

May she rest in peace.