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Beloved Educator Leaving Annunciation School

June 14, 2010
Beloved educator leaving Annunciation School By John Gleason After 29 years as principal of Annunciation School, Sister Jean Panisko, S.C.L., is leaving Colorado for a new assignment in Kansas where she’ll be taking over as treasurer for her order, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. “Well, it’s safe to say this is a bittersweet time,” she told the Denver Catholic Register. “Of course, I’m going to miss being around the children but I am looking forward to a new and different challenge.” Originally from Butte, Mont., Sister Panisko was educated by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth in grade school. The idea of religious life was in the back of her mind from a young age and she entered the order right out of high school. She earned degrees in elementary education and administration. For her first assignment, she found herself surrounded by third-graders in a school in Chicago, Ill. “It seems I was always around little children,” she said. Coming to Colorado in 1974, Sister Panisko taught first grade in Grand Junction. In 1981, she was assigned to Denver where she took over as principal at Annunciation School. On May 22 a Mass was held for Sister Panisko at Annunciation Church to bid her goodbye and to honor her many years of working with children. An open house followed where many former students came by to wish her the best in her new job. “They’ve always given me such joy and enthusiasm about life,” she said about her students. “And that’s what helps you get over all the other things you have to face every day.” Sister Panisko’s impending departure and that of another nun in her community, Sister Lin Sayatovic, left only three religious sisters in the parish convent. Since the house is much bigger than what they need, Sister Panisko said the decision was made to close the convent and relocate the other sisters to other communities in the Denver area. “The house will be closing, but the Sisters of Charity will continue to maintain their presence and their ministry in Colorado,” she said. The Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth order was founded in 1857 in Leavenworth, Kan. They began their ministry teaching in a boys school, then opening a girls school, tending to the sick, taking in orphans and visiting prisoners. In 1864 the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth started the first private hospital in Kansas. They went on to found several health centers, including St. Joseph Hospital (now Exempla St. Joseph Hospital) in Denver in 1873. Today, the order is made up of 313 members who serve throughout the Midwest and in Peru, working in areas of education, health care, social services and pastoral ministry.