Celebrating the Life of Sister Joan Phyllis Dyreks, OSF



Feb 23, 1938 — July 16, 2023


“What you hold, may you always hold. What you do, may you always do and never abandon.”
— Letter of St. Clare to Agnes of Prague, 1237

This letter could easily have been written to our Sister Joan Phyllis Dyreks. The 85 years of Sister Joan Phyllis’s life were lived with consistency, clarity, and fidelity. From her birth in St. Louis, Missouri on February 23, 1938, until her death in the same city on July 16, 2023, Sister Joan held firm to who she was in Christ. She carried within her a zeal, a zest for life, a passion for serving others, and a decisiveness of character. It is not surprising that the Gospel chosen for her Mass of Resurrection was Matthew 5:13-17, “You are the salt of the earth.”

The roots of her Polish heritage ran deep. She valued her family – especially her late parents Mary and Urban, her sister Mickie, her niece Christine, and her extended family – as well as those friends, neighbors, and coworkers closest to her. She derived great pleasure in planning festive gatherings complete with decorations, attractive table settings, delicious homemade foods, and a variety of beverages, all bound together with a welcoming spirit.

The roots of her 66-year vocation with the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help ran deep as well.  She relished meeting others, spreading joy, demonstrating love, serving without counting the cost, and delighting in the small gifts of each day. Every Sister with whom she lived has wonderful “Joanie stories.”

Throughout her many years as an educator and principal in eight states and an early childhood education director, her creativity and enthusiasm brought the joy of the Gospel to life. Her zest was contagious even at faculty meetings. Whether she donned a floppy hat for a Kentucky Derby party or a bright Easter bonnet with matching earrings, Sister Joan brought smiles and delight to others as she faithfully held to what was hers to do.

During the past 22 years Sister Joan’s gifts especially shined forth, as she generously ministered to the needs of our elder Sisters at Cardinal Ritter Senior Services. She assured that each and every Sister was celebrated, especially on her birthday and her feast day. She planned parties and celebrated special prayer services. She listened, really listened, for endless hours. Her presence and little surprises were rays of sunshine. Administrators, staff, and other residents all knew and loved Sister Joan as she traveled the halls with a huge smile, a friendly greeting, and a cart filled with treats. She gave freely. She lived lovingly. She loved convincingly. She faithfully accepted the life God gave her and truly lived as salt of the earth.

To know who you are, to know Whose you are, to know your life’s purpose – these are gifts of Grace. Sister Joan Phyllis received each of these gifts and faithfully held, multiplied, and shared them. Her spirit, even now in Christ, is bringing out goodness and joy in others.

Private services, including a Mass of Resurrection for Sister Joan Phyllis, will take place on Friday, July 28, 2023. She will be laid to rest among her Franciscan Sisters in a special section of Resurrection Cemetery in St. Louis, MO. In lieu of flowers, the family requests stories from the life of Sister Joan Phyllis, as well as memorial donations to Sisters’ community, the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Simply visit the “donate” tab on the website www.fsolph.org; leave a voicemail with your contact information for Sister Cheryl at (314) 965-3700, ext 111; email srcheryl@fsolph.org; or mail a check to “Franciscan Sisters OLPH, 335 S Kirkwood Rd, St Louis, MO 63122” marked “Memorial for Sister Joan Phyllis.”

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