Poems by Sr. Joan Polak, ND

While she was born in Brainerd, Nebraska, Sr. Joan Polak, ND, travelled far from the Midwest, making her Central and South American ministries some of the most impactful in her life. Celebrating 70 years of religious profession, Sr. Joan is  daughter of the deceased Ivan and Frances Polak and part of an extended religious family. We are grateful for her beautiful words below.



has gone to God 
and left memories 
The memory of 
a deep devotion to God 
to prayer 
rosary devotion that included 
doing altar linens 
flower arrangements for the alter 

The memory of 
for family 
and friends 
though often unexpressed 
shown in other ways 
taking us to prayer a phone call toys kept in the attic kolači and rye bread baked 
soft downy pillows and warm “peřinas” and love of 
nature, the great “outdoors” mother earth music 
education little children birds at the feeder 

The memory of 
remarkable energy 
gardening quilting, crocheting, tatting embroidery we called “fancy work” sewing baking 
Such are memories 
bequeathed to us 
left behind 

Let us hold our memories 
with gratitude with affection with love. 

Sr. Joan Polak, June 1993 


Sr. Juanita’s Wonderful World

As I was thinking about the trip, a song of Louis Armstrong came to memory and I take license to adapt it to my thoughts and feelings. 

I saw trees of green covering the mountains, 

skies of blue and clouds of white, and I said to myself what a wonderful world. 

 I saw colors of rainbow in birds drifting by, a moon growing to fullness and stars studding the sky, 

and I said to myself what a wonderful world. I saw pick axes, shovels, and bags of sand, 

rocks and bricks moved to valley below, pipes being laid to bring refreshing water, and I said to myself what a wonderful world. I saw tortillas and frijoles being eaten, 

sustenance for the body, had cold showers after hard work under scorching sun, 

and I said to myself what a wonderful world. 

I saw faces of people all shades of the earth, friendships blooming like the flowers brilliant against the sky, 

and I said to myself what a wonderful world. 

I saw the tears of joy and those of sorrow, and smiles brilliant as the sun brightening the day, 

and I said to myself what a wonderful world. I heard the sharing each evening, revealing of self hidden in words, 

expressions of love and caring. 

and I said to myself what a wonderful world. Looking at this wonderful world, words of another song came to mind: “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee. How great Thou art. How great Thou art.” 

Thank you Creator God. All things belong to You. 

I belong to You 

~Sr. Joan Polak, ND


Excursion with S. Marie Alice to DeSoto Bend Wildlife Refuge 

Approaching the skies were filled with Canadian geese and In those skies are seen wings of geese first white then black It depends on the gentle tilt of their wings. As I sit with a view of the river, all I see is a blanket of white Then slowly a group begins to take to the air They begin to “babble” or is it them speaking to me? I cannot understand a word they are saying.

But, sadly I know they aren’t speaking to me. Or are they calling me to rise above my aches and pains And be grateful for the health that I do have? In clusters as they took off forming many V’s I wonder: how do they know which group to join? Smarter than I they seen to be.

My spirit soars with them, wising them well. Then without a signal to be heard The downward flight comes as return to the water covering it like a new snowfall. All is quiet as they move about enjoying a swim. Statistics say there are 500,000 to 900 thousand But who can count the fidgety beings? Officials know their gathering is largest in last 15 years Do the geese know they’ve set such a record?

And to thing I was graced to come and see the wonder. My heart is filled with joy and gratitude. Secondary, but just as grace filled was to see an eagle in a nest across the waters. I’m told eagles follow the geese on their journey Feasting on the geese that die on the way.

Smart are they to clean the environment Making a better place to live for me Gratitude and a prayer of thanks to the eagles. 

Amid the crowds, hundreds of people seeking best spot for picture taking enjoyed peacefulness, a oneness with nature. Again, thanks for an invite to an excursion So enjoyable, so full of beauty, so peaceful. I’m filled with gratitude for the wonders of God’s creation. 

~Sr. Joan Polak, ND