Sister Janet Bielman, RSM 1937-2023
Sister Janet Bielmann, a Sister of Mercy for 67 years, passed away Jan. 8, 2023. Her ministry took her to schools in the Diocese of Buffalo, as well as the Philippines.
Born Dec. 1, 1937, to George J. and Matilda (Reihle) Bielmann, Sister Janet attended classes at Mount. St. Joseph College (now Medaille University) in Buffalo. She received a bachelor of science degree in Education, and a master of science in Clinical Pastoral Counseling from Loyola College in Maryland.
Sister Janet’s teaching ministry began in South Buffalo, where she taught at St. Martin School, St. Thomas Aquinas School and St. Ambrose School. She also taught at St. Joseph School in Albion and All Saints School in the Black Rock area.
In 1966, Sister Janet’s desire to be a missionary was realized when she was assigned to the Philippines. She taught at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Academy and at Mercy High School in Mindanao. Then she went on to study the Visayan language at the Maryknoll Language School. During that time, she was introduced to the Clinical Pastoral Education Program at St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City. She learned what it meant to be a chaplain and a supervisor. In 1972, she opened a Clinical Pastoral Education Center in Makati Medical Center.
From 1972 to 1978, her life became “very full and exciting,” as she began giving seminars not only in the Philippines but also in Taiwan and Peru. She conducted a CPE Program in Perth, Australia. Sister found training laypersons, priests, seminarians and Protestant clergy to be challenging and rewarding.
In 1978, Sister Janet moved back to Mindanao when she was elected to be the regional superior of the Mercy Sisters there. While speaking of her missionary experience, she said, “The Filipino people taught me much about life: to have concern for one another, the meaning of hospitality, and the value of community. I was a recipient of their wisdom regarding justice and care of the earth. I am forever grateful.”
After her return to Buffalo, Sister Janet continued to serve in various ministries. She was a member of the Leadership Team for the Sisters of Mercy; served as a campus minister at St. Bonaventure University; became director of the former Benedict House; and directed the CPE Program at Mercy Hospital and Sisters Hospital.
She is survived by her brother Jerry, and predeceased by her parents and siblings Jack, Fran, Bob, Butch, Joe, Paul, Walter, Ruth, Mary, Lori and Dorothy.
A funeral Mass was held in Mercy Center Chapel. Burial took place at Holy Cross Cemetery.