Sister Jan Dunn, RSCJ
10/20/1946 – 03/27/2023
Religious of the Sacred Heart, Jan Dunn died on March 27, 2023, in Houston, Texas. She was 76 years old and a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart for 54 years. Jan was born on October 20, 1946, in Houston, Texas, to Edward A. Dunn and Jane Hebert Dunn. She entered the Society of the Sacred Heart on July 24, 1969, at Kenwood. She pronounced her first vows at Villa Duchesne in St. Louis, Missouri in 1972 and made her final profession on May 31, 1979, in Rome, Italy.
Sister Dunn graduated with honors from Maryville College with a B.A. in History in 1968. She earned an M.A. in English from St. Louis University in 1977 and a M.Ed. in Administration from the University of Houston in 1982. She held certificates as an administrator in Louisiana and Nebraska. She served on the boards of Maryville University in St. Louis, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland, and Old St. Ferdinand Shrine in Florissant, Missouri. She authored books and articles published by the Society of the Sacred Heart. Among the titles were the beloved children’s book, Under the Pear Tree, written in 1996, and Life at Sacred Heart in 1986. She also wrote Faithful Friend, a biography of Ursula McAghon, RSCJ, in 2014, and Catherine Collins: Innovator with Heart and Vision, in 2021.
Sister Dunn’s early years in the Society (1969-1974) were devoted to teaching at Villa Duchesne in St. Louis and Grand Coteau, Louisiana. Beginning in 1974, she moved to Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Houston, Texas, where she taught and served as dean of students. Following Duchesne, Sister Dunn was dean of students at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Grand Coteau (1980-1982) and dean of students at the Academy of the Sacred Heart (The Rosary) in New Orleans from 1982-1989.
From 1989 until 1995, Sister Dunn was head of school at the Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Omaha, Nebraska. Under her leadership, a case statement was developed to provide trustees, administration, faculty, alumnae, friends and students with a statement of all aspects of Duchesne’s mission. A capital campaign was launched to help fulfill objectives in the case statement leaving the school with a firm foundation to move into the 21st century. Sister Dunn later served as interim director of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools (1995-1996). She oversaw the creation of a video describing the values of Sacred Heart education as lived within the schools of the Network.
Sister Dunn returned to Duchesne Academy in Houston in 1996 and named headmistress of the school, a role she held until 2012. She was also area director in Houston for three years while she was headmistress at Duchesne.
In a 2011 letter to the school community, the chair of the board of trustees recognized Sister Dunn’s leadership. “Her contributions resulted in the excellent reputation that Duchesne Academy enjoyed in Houston and within the Network of Sacred Heart Schools throughout the United States.” Following a one-year sabbatical in 2012, Sister Dunn became the executive director of the Network of Sacred Heart Schools in 2013. She taught formation to mission at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City from 2015-2016 and the Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans (The Rosary) where she taught religion, from 2017-2022.
Sister Dunn was an active member of the Associates Leadership Team in the USC Province. She was the coordinator of the Virtual Associates group, and the group contact for Associates in New Orleans and New York.
In December 2022, Sister Dunn moved to Houston and joined the Duchesne Houston Community where she was to be engaged in education and retreat work. Coming back to her Texas roots, being close to friends and her only sister Jenny was a gift to her. On March 27, 2023, Sister Dunn suffered a fatal medical attack, dying suddenly. Her death was a shock to her community and to the Society of the Sacred Heart. She was loved by so many students, parents and friends and will be dearly missed.
Sister Dunn made a difference in the lives of the students and parents she came to know and love over the years. They hold memories of an educator and friend who lived out the values of Sacred Heart education. A student she taught at Grand Coteau, now an RSCJ, remembers that Jan was one of the best English teachers she ever had. “She was demanding and thorough; making an ‘A’ [from her] on a paper was a real accomplishment. I will always remember when I finally figured out what she was looking for in my work. Though Jan spent only one year at Grand Coteau while I was a student, she was a beloved teacher. It was a major loss when we were told she was moving after having been with us only one year!”
Sister Dunn is survived by her sister, Jenny Blanc and her husband, Mike, of Houston, Texas; niece, Paige and nephew, Evan; six grandnieces and nephews; and her sisters in the Society of the Sacred Heart.