Sr. Mary Jane Frances Dardenne, MSC was born Lila Anne Dardenne September 10, 1925 in Plaquemine, Louisiana. She died at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home in Opelousas, Louisiana on March 8, 2023 at 7:05 AM.
Sr. Jane was preceded in death by her father, H. D. “Des” Dardenne, her mother, Katherine Leche Dardenne, her brother Henry D. “Des Jr.” Dardenne of New Orleans, and her sister, Catherine (Kit) Jane Dardenne of New Orleans.
She is survived by a niece, M. Margaret (Peg) Dardenne of Hoboken, NJ; by 2 nephews, H.D. “Hank” Dardenne III (wife, Nancy) of Burien, WA, and James Dardenne (wife, Allison Lee) of New York City. She is also survived by the extended members of the Dardenne family and by her dear friend, Mary Jane Phelan of New Orleans.
A passage from the Prophet Jeremiah offers a glimpse into her long life. This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls." (Jeremiah 6:16)
At an early age, she stood at the crossroads, looked, asked for the ancient paths, and began walking in the path of religious life. Inspired by the Marianites of Holy Cross in Plaquemine, she joyfully joined their ranks at 16 years of age. She entered the Congregation on August 30, 1942 and then pronounced her perpetual vows on August 12, 1947.
She received a B.S. degree in education from Loyola University in New Orleans; and a Master’s Degree in Education from Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, Texas.
Her walk in ministry included education as teacher and principal in various schools in New Orleans at St. Agnes, Holy Name of Mary, St. Christopher, St. Rita, St. Mary of the Angels, St. Cecilia. She ministered as well in education in Houma and in Franklin.
She was also involved in religious education and served as Office Coordinator for Christ the Healer Medical Missionary Program in New Orleans.
Sr. Jane was well known in St. Rita Parish in New Orleans having served in various ministries from 1986-1995 as principal and administrator of St. Rita School. During this time, she educated and mentored many young people who grew to be business, political, and religious leaders in New Orleans and beyond.
Her love and devotion to the students she served knew no bounds. Beyond the classroom, she was present in their extra-curricular activities, engaged with them in their sports, and lovingly supported their families. As the children learned from her; she learned from the children. The words of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Luke (18:15-17) reflect the raison d=être of her life:
People were bringing even infants to hm that he might touch them, and when the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.”
When she could no longer physically walk due to declining health, her life journey continued at Our Lady of Wisdom Nursing Facility in 2007 in New Orleans and then at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home in 2021.
As Sr. Jane departs this life, she recalls to us the instruction of Jesus to consistently nurture our inner beings as children of God. She encourages us to stay active and engaged with others after her example of daily walking the neighborhoods and greeting folks along the way. She also offers us the spiritual treasures of her fidelity to prayer, devotion to family and friends, dedication to education, and fidelity to her religious vocation. With a smile on her face, walking joyfully into eternal life, these are the pearls of great price which she offers to us.
To celebrate her life, a wake service will be held from 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM on Tuesday, March 14th in the chapel at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home. Mass of the Resurrection will follow in the same chapel. Burial will be in St. Landry Cemetery in Opelousas.
The Marianites of Holy Cross want to express profound gratitude to the staff of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home for enhancing the quality of Sr. Jane’s life during her final years. In lieu of flowers, the Marianites request that memorial donations be made to the Marianites of Holy Cross Congregational Center at 75520 LA-Hwy 1081, Covington, Louisiana, 70435.