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Trinity Remembers Sr. Joan Bland, SND, ’38


bland-joan-headshot.JPGThe Trinity community mourns the passing of Sr. Joan Bland, SND, ’38, who died on Sunday, June 29 at the age of 90.  A graduate of Trinity’s green class of 1938, Sr. Joan entered the Sisters of Notre Dame at Ilchester that same year.

Trinity alumnae, EPS students and graduates, and all members of the Trinity community are invited to remember Sister Joan at her memorial Mass on Sunday, August 3, at 3:30 p.m. in Notre Dame Chapel. A reception will follow in Social Hall.  If you plan to attend the mass, please RSVP to Candice Dailey, Alumnae Affairs coordinator, at, or 202/884-9700. Alumnae and friends are also invited to remember Sister Joan by sending their fondest memories of her to

Generations of Trinity alumnae remember Sr. Joan Bland as a beloved member of the faculty in history, department chair, and later serving as vice president of Trinity for development.  As a Trinity faculty member, she was known for always keeping up with her students – often years after they left her classroom.

She received a master’s degree in European history from Villanova University in 1945 and a doctorate in U.S. history from Catholic University in 1951. She inspired dozens of Trinity women to go on to earn advanced degrees in history and other fields of study. As chair of the Trinity history department from 1951 to 1963, Sister Joan expanded and modernized the curriculum, introducing a global perspective to the courses.

Among her many legacies, her greatest is Education for Parish Service (EPS), the program she founded in 1978 that has grown into a national and international model for the education of lay women and men in parish ministry. Sr. Joan was known worldwide for increasing the role of laypersons in the Catholic Church through EPS, a program credited with training thousands of men and women in theological, scriptural and pastoral education.

Inspired by Vatican II, Sister Joan started EPS to provide motivated rank-and-file church members with a grounding in the study of scripture, theology, church history, spirituality and pastoral ministry.

“Sr. Joan was a true Trinity legend,” wrote Trinity President Patricia McGuire in a message to the community. “Particularly through her leadership in EPS, Sr. Joan was known worldwide as an advocate and educator devoted to increasing the role of the laity in the Church.   In this work she built a network among bishops, pastors and lay leaders that serves the needs of the Church and parishes broadly.”

President McGuire added, “I will miss Sr. Joan’s delightful presence around campus — as I came to know her in her later years, she was always generous with her words of wisdom and insight, while unfailing in her ability to see the best in all situations.  Grace, charity, faith, keen intellect and always hopeful — we will remember Sr. Joan for these magnificent qualities, and for the legacy she leaves through EPS and the many lives she touched through education.”

Sr. Joan Bland was the editor of a three volume book, The Pastoral Vision of John Paul II, and contributed numerous articles to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, the Catholic Historical Review, Commonweal and other Catholic publications. Among her awards were the Papal Medal Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice in 1991, Catholic University’s Alumni Achievement Award in 1989 and the Empowerment Award from the Associated Catholic Charities of the Washington Archdiocese in 1988. She spent six years in Rome where she worked on establishing an association for religious sisters in scripture and theology. She also served on multiple international commissions, including the Bishops Committee on Ecumenism, the National Council of Churches, the Catholic Historical Association, and the Religious Education Association.

Memorial Mass:
Sunday, August 3, 3:30 p.m.
Notre Dame Chapel, Trinity Campus
Please RSVP to Candice Dailey, Alumnae Affairs coordinator, at, or 202/884-9700

Share Memories
Alumnae and friends are  invited to remember Sister Joan by sending their fondest memories of her to

Washington Post Obituary of Sister Joan Bland

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For more information contact Ann Pauley, Media Relations Trinity, 125 Michigan Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20017, (202) 884-9725.