"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

“Be diligent in serving
the poor. Love the poor,
honor them, my children,
as you would honor
Christ Himself.”

St. Louise de Marillac

 

Remembering S. Josetta Marie Chu

By Katelyn Rieder, Communications co-op

S. Josetta Marie Chu

On Friday, Oct. 6, 2023, Sister of Charity of Cincinnati Josetta Marie Chu went home to God.

S. Josetta was born in Beijing, China, but moved to Taiwan not long after the dust had settled from World War II. She remained there until 1951, when she made the decision to fly to Cincinnati, Ohio, to study nursing at the College of Mount St. Joseph (currently known as Mount St. Joseph University). It was here she met the Sisters of Charity, which would prove to be a pivotal part of her life. After graduating from nursing school in 1960, S. Josetta joined the loving and spiritual SC Community.

She spent several years in the nursing field, earning her master’s degree from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She used her skills at several hospitals across the country, until returning to school to earn her master’s degree in art therapy from George Washington University, Washington, D.C. For the following 20 years, S. Josetta ministered at several hospitals in the U.S. as a psychiatric nurse and art therapist—using both her skills and passions to help others.

Additionally, S. Josetta had the pleasure of studying at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. under several famed artists in the Chinese art discipline, including professor Chang-I and fellow student Louise Freed. Through specializing in traditional Chinese artwork, S. Josetta was able to connect Westerners with her culture and history—something that her fellow Sisters loved to engage with.

“Art is therapy,” she once said. “When you do art, you forget everything else. You concentrate on the beauty, on the creation. Everything you create is spiritual. Although I have worked in acrylics and watercolors in the past, I have concentrated, for the most part, on traditional Chinese painting in black and white. I try to preserve the Chinese traditions. Chinese art is so peaceful.”

S. Patricia Hill excited to read her copy of “Exercises from East to West, Head to Toe.”

As some may recall, S. Josetta also published a book on Eastern exercises and acupressure techniques in 2013, titled “Exercises from East to West, Head to Toe.” In this manual of at-home exercises, she hoped to bring the traditional medicinal practices from her upbringing into our Western culture. S. Josetta had a degree in acupressure from the Ohashiatsu program at the Ohashi Institute in Maryland, and also studied at the International School of Acupressure in New York City.

The book provides many different simple exercises to relieve pain in all parts of the body, from head to toe. As she lived in both China and America, she was able to grasp general philosophies from both worlds, thus providing an interesting insight on all aspects of life. In the foreword, S. Josetta writes: “Exercise to me is a joyful and fun time. The good Lord has given us a wonderful body.” To purchase a copy for yourself, reach out to the campus Gift Shop located in the Motherhouse.

When the news of S. Josetta’s passing reached the SC Community, fellow Sisters shared their memories and love for her.

S. Joan Deiters recalled, “She gave me one of her paintings for my therapy office in Poughkeepsie. It hung on the wall facing my chair, so I could take in the beauty, the peace, and the artistry of that painting every day. Thank you, Josie, for that gift and for your life that you lived in abundance.”

S. Josetta Marie Chu with visitors to her art display show in 2007

“I have always loved S. Josetta’s Chinese paintings!” said S. Patricia Wittberg. “I have two in my office and one at home. They breathe such peace and serenity. May she now enjoy peace with our other Chinese Sisters and with her family members and friends who have gone before her.”

Others also shared sentiments about S. Josetta’s love for music and singing, a passion she often shared in Mass.

S. Joan Elizabeth Cook writes, “Josie and I arrived at the Motherhouse front door at the same minute on Sept. 8, 1960. Arriving together was a gift to both of us because neither of our families were able to come with us that day. Sometimes when Josie sang the Chinese ‘Ave Maria’ I got to be her accompanist—in those days several of us took turns playing the organ in the choir loft. Josie sang from the choir loft, and I was always awed by her complete absorption in the music. She sang with her whole being.”

“She wanted to be a singer at one time, and many remember her singing the ‘Hail Mary’ in Chinese in the chapel at special feasts,” said S. Victoria Marie Forde. “In the U.S. she continued traveling as a Sister and loved to tell stories about her life.”

Throughout all of her passions, S. Josetta lived out the charity mission and charism to help and inspire others. Whether it was through displaying her art, counseling patients, or providing acupressure exercises, she truly lived a fulfilling and faithful life.

Rest in peace, S. Josetta.

Piece displayed in S. Josetta Chu’s art show in 2007, which included over 60 pieces of her work.

 

Piece displayed in S. Josetta Chu’s art show in 2007.

 

 

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