October 31, 1931 – June 9, 2021
Sister Joan Bretz, OSU, also known as Mother Christopher, died peacefully June 9, 2021, at St. Andrew’s at Francis Place in Eureka, Missouri. She served many years in the St. Louis archdiocese.
The daughter of Elmer J. and Eva Kramer Bretz, she was born Oct. 31, 1931, in Springfield, Illinois. She entered the Ursuline community July 15,1950, and professed her vows on Jan. 16, 1951. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of New Rochelle in New York and master’s and doctoral degrees from St. Louis University. She also studied theology at Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Known for both her brilliance and warm heart, Sister Joan was a teacher, communicator, photographer and local leader who served in Jennings and Crystal City, Missouri; Springfield, Illinois; and Galveston and Laredo, Texas. She taught at Springfield College in Illinois from 1956-57 and from 1973-90. She also taught at Ursuline Academy in Springfield from 1957-59, St. Patrick School in Galveston from 1959-60, Corpus Christi High School in Jennings from 1960-66, and Ursuline Academy in Laredo from 1966-67.
Sister Joan served in public relations for the Ursulines’ Central Province, headquartered in Crystal City and then Kirkwood, from 1967-68. She became the first director of communications and development for the province, starting the office from scratch in 1996 and serving until 2010.
She retired to the Loretto Home in her native Springfield, later moving to the Ursulines’ healthcare center in Alton, Illinois, then to Francis Place in 2014.
Sister Joan is survived by her nephews, Brian Bretz, Barry Bretz and Jay Bretz; a niece, Brook Bretz; and a cousin, Bill Bretz.
A burial service was held June 16 at St. Peter Cemetery. A memorial Mass will be held later in the summer.