Remembering Sister Mary Janice Bartolo, SNDdeN


As I write this, my heart is heavy, and my mind is erupting tirelessly with thoughts. How can I do Sister Mary Janice justice? How can I cement her legacy through this tribute? The only answer I have for myself is, maybe I can’t, but I can do my best.

Clare and I knew we had to have a beautiful tribute piece for Sister Mary Janice. The truth is, we are all still grappling with this loss. I know that many of us at NDA are still coming to terms with this new reality and it’s hard to express how we feel and how we will miss Sister Mary Janice. So, I write this on behalf of The Medallion’s staff, but also anyone who may be struggling during this tough time.

I had Sister Mary Janice as my teacher for Global Politics this year. I had never had her before, and to be honest, I was nervous because I had also never had a Sister as my teacher before. I learned a lot about Sister Mary Janice during the short time I had her as my teacher. The biggest thing that stands out to me when I think of her is her love for the environment. She had such a passion for the need to preserve our environment. Her class was really the first place I ever understood how pressing this issue is. I remember watching the documentary Before The Flood with Leonardo DiCaprio and realizing that I needed to do something. Sister Mary Janice held us accountable for protecting our world. She connected climate change or the environment to lessons in any way she could, and she would even call us out whenever we would go into class with a plastic water bottle and not a reusable one. I remember one day in class we talked about reusable straws, and after that I felt so ashamed thinking of all the plastic straws I had used. Even though it’s so small, all these conversations made me realize how unnecessary it is to use a styrofoam cup over a perfectly fine cup for my iced coffees from Dunkin Donuts; I decline every time they ask me now, which I hope adds up. I wholeheartedly credit my awareness and attitude about protecting our environment to Sister Mary Janice. If I didn’t have her as my teacher, I would’ve never realized how important it is to care for our world. I probably would still use those Styrofoam cups.

I truly believe Sister Mary Janice embodied what it means to be a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. She was so incredibly selfless. I remember her telling us once that she would pray for her students every morning when she woke up. She was so passionate about the less fortunate worldwide and she would always remind us how lucky we are. She was dedicated to her faith and ardent about sharing her knowledge and beliefs with all of us. I admire Sister’s dedication to living her life to help others; we need more people like Sister Mary Janice in our world to spread love, hope, and faith.

Academically, her class was hard. Sister Mary Janice wanted to strengthen all of us in our writing, so we did a lot of it. It pushed me to put my best foot forward always. She graded us hard, she challenged us a lot. But I wouldn’t change any piece of it. Honestly, I struggle with grasping the fact that Sister Mary Janice won’t be part of the 1 ¼ year of global politics we have left. I struggle with knowing that she won’t be there when we get our IB Diplomas, since she was such a big part of my IB journey. But I know that if she were here to see that, she would be proud of all of us and excited for what our future holds. I know she would be pushing us to take risks, challenge ourselves, and keep in touch.

Losing Sister Mary Janice ignited waves of shock and confusion within me. These waves are still within me, too, but I know that as time goes on, I will find peace in my memories of Sister Mary Janice and I will find comfort in knowing that she would be pushing me and my classmates to continue working hard. I have faith that Sister Mary Janice’s legacy will live on and as a community, we will be able to honor her by continuing to be women with hearts as wide as the world.