Sister Joan Schmal, 82, who was recognized for her work with youth on addiction issues, died Monday, Dec. 22, of cardiopulmonary collapse at Assisi House in Aston.
A member of the sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia for 61 years, Sister Joan was known for her crisis skills in dealing with youth and ran programs for children of alcoholics and for students struggling with drug and alcohol issues at John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls' High School in the Franklintown section of the city. She also worked with pregnant and parenting teens at several high schools.
She received the educator of the year award in 2000 from the Caron Foundation for her work as a prevention and intervention specialist with Shalom Inc., a nonprofit counseling service.
"Sister Joan was a tiny woman with a big heart and boundless energy, all of which she poured into her work with youth - whether in teaching or working with young people with drug or alcohol problems," said Sister Ann Marie Slavin, associate director of communications for the Sisters of St. Francis. "She was also actively involved in justice issues."
Born in Philadelphia, Sister Joan belonged to St. Boniface Parish and graduated from Hallahan High School. She entered the congregation in 1951 and professed her first vows in 1953.
She earned a bachelor's degree in education from Villanova University, a master's in business education from Marywood University in Scranton, and a master's in pastoral counseling from Neumann University in Aston.
Sister Joan began her ministry as a teacher at Sacred Heart School in Allentown and later moved to Philadelphia, where she ministered for 57 years. She taught at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Morton, and St. Ludwig School, Little Flower High School, Hallahan, and St. Hubert High School, all in Philadelphia.
She worked in social services at Shalom from 1990 to 2005 and volunteered at Assisi House from 2005 to 2009, when she became a resident there.
Sister Joan is survived by her sister, Alma Bradbury; and nieces and nephews.
A viewing will be held at 9:30 a.m. Friday at Assisi House, 600 Red Hill Rd., Aston. A Funeral Mass will follow at 11 a.m. Burial will be in Our Lady of Angels Cemetery in Aston.
Donations can be made in her name to the Sisters of St. Francis Foundation, 609 S. Convent Rd., Aston, Pa. 19014.