Sister Janet Speth
When I met the Sisters of St. Joseph, their spirit attracted me: diversity in unity, reconciliation, going where the needs were not being met.
I grew up in Sudbury in Northern Ontario. I developed both love for the Roman Catholic faith tradition and a keen mind for questioning everything, including religion. At 8-years-old, I yearned for a heart like God's — big enough to accept differences and opposing ideas.
Awakening my social conscience
After I graduated from university as a physical therapist, I worked in British Columbia for two years and then Tasmania, Australia. It was a wonderful experience. It awakened my social conscience and I could no longer regard the affluence of North America without considering its oppressive impact on developing nations.
Their spirit attracted me
Upon returning to Canada, I experienced a call to religious life. When I met the Sisters of St. Joseph, their spirit attracted me: diversity in unity, reconciliation, going where the needs were not being met. I felt I had come home and decided to join them.
I have worked in long-term care, orthopedic clinics and acute care settings. The most adventuresome position was as a sole charge therapist in Moose Factory on James Bay. I spent three years working in health care with the Cree First Nations People.
For the past several years, I have worked at the Toronto Rehab Institute, helping people with severe neurological impairments. For the most part, the hospital becomes their home, as they require more support than is often found in the community.
About empowering people
Few therapists are attracted to this very specific work. It is about empowering people, encouraging and supporting them to become as independent as possible and to reach for their best potential even in the face of physical disability.
We are all one
I am learning that everything I do for others I must also do for myself. I must be compassionate, believe in my own best self even with my shortcomings and weaknesses, and live with interconnectedness, knowing we are all one.