POCATELLO, ID – Sister Janice Otis, FSE, a founding member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, entered eternal life the afternoon of February 12, 2019, after a series of health issues over the past months. Her Sisters of the Family Life Center, Pocatello, were praying with her as she died. Sister Janice, with Sister Mona Brunner, founded the Family Life Center on Truckerville Road in 1975. Sister Janice was known throughout the region for her involvements in both civic and religious organizations.
Sister Janice was born in Spokane, Washington, on January 24, 1935, to Marie and Philip Otis. As a youth, she enjoyed swimming, ice skating and softball, and was an avid reader. She started piano lessons in the third grade and played organ during high school. Her music skills continued throughout her life as she obtained a Bachelor of Music Education from Viterbo College, and taught music in Wausau, Wisconsin; Spokane; Blackfoot and Pocatello, Idaho.
In 1956 Sister Janice entered the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in La Crosse, Wisconsin, professing first vows in 1955 and final vows in 1961. Her religious name was Sister Cecil. When the option was given for Sisters to return to their baptismal names, she did so. Sister Janice chose to become a founding member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist from the order’s beginning in 1973. She lived in southeast Idaho since 1970 where she served her Community in various capacities:
- from 1970-1974, she was a Migrant Religious Education Teacher for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise and set up religious education for migrant children in labor camps and towns
- from 1974-1976, she tutored migrant children in elementary schools for the Blackfoot School District #57
- from 1977-1985, to the surprise of many shoppers, Sister Janice managed the Pocatello Mall, overseeing day-to-day operations and was responsible for leasing and rent collection, promotion and advertising
- during 1986 she served as office manager for Western Visiting Nurses in Pocatello
- from 1986-2006, Sister was director of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program for the Southeastern Idaho Community Action Agency in Pocatello, overseeing the volunteer work of over 500 senior volunteers
- from 2006-2010, she was administrator of Franciscan Cre-Act School
- from 2010-recently, she was volunteer coordinator for the American Cancer Society and the Portneuf Regional Medical Hospital Cancer Center; and a member of the HOPE Cancer Center support group for survivors, those who have cancer and those who have been caregivers
Sister Janice was the Franciscan Sisters’ local bookkeeper for the Pocatello Center for forty years and offered sessions on budgeting and finances as part of the marriage counseling program of the Family Life Center. She also found time to provide piano lessons at the center for children and adults.
Sister Janice was invited to share her professional and personal skills with several local and state organizations over the years, including:
- Pocatello Task Force on Aging
- Founding Board Member of the Idaho Migrant Council
- Member of the National Advisory Council for Migrant Health and the National Advisory Council on Rural Health
- Idaho Delegate to the 1995 White House Conference on Aging
- Board Member of Southeast Idaho In Home Services
- Pocatello Advisory Council Member and a Member of the Board of Directors of the Foster Grandparent Program of Southeast Idaho
- Governor appointed Member of the Serve Idaho State Commission on Volunteerism
- Peer Review Committee for the Ameri-Corps grantees in the State of Idaho
The Franciscan Sisters will greatly miss Sister Janice and her generous heart. The Community celebrates her feast day on December 6, the feast of St. Nicholas, who is known for his outpouring of gifts toward those in need. A faithful religious woman who wholeheartedly dedicated her life to the Church, to the renewal of religious life, and to serving a wide sphere of people and their needs, Sister Janice lived the practical words of Pope Francis, “What does ‘evangelize’ mean? To give witness with joy and simplicity to what we are and what we believe in.”
Sister Janice is survived by her Community, the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, the Franciscan Brothers of the Eucharist, the Franciscan Apprentices, her brother, Mike Otis, his wife Marge, and her nephew, Jeff Otis, all of Spokane.
A time of visitation will be on Sunday, February 17 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 455 North Hayes, Pocatello, Idaho. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Monday, February 18 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Joseph Church. Burial will be at the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist cemetery, 2098 Truckerville Road, Pocatello. Arrangements are under the direction of Sister Patricia Glass, FSE, Funeral Director, and Downard Funeral Home, Pocatello.
For more about Sister Janice, see Sister Janice, Featured Sister.