“My dad was a Catholic and my mother converted at the time of her marriage,” Sister Barbara Jean Laughlin remembers. “In my baby book, mom wrote that I started going to church at 1 & 1/2 years of age. By the time I was 3, I could say the grace before meals alone. By age 5, I had learned all my prayers: Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and Angel of God. I remember asking for a Sister doll for Christmas when I was in the first grade.”
That early foundation of faith ultimately led to a visit to the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon Motherhouse to attend a reception and vow ceremony. Sister Barbara Jean puts it simply: “I was hooked for good.”
She taught third through eighth grade and was a principal at schools in Portland, Milwaukie, Tillamook and Spokane. On the SSMO campus, she served as education coordinator, formation director, and director of the Associate Program.
From 2000 to 2010, she served as SSMO Superior General. During that time, the Valley Catholic Athletic Facility was built. Groundbreaking took place for the new Valley Catholic Elementary and Middle School. Sr. Barbara Jean has said that serving as Superior General was “a challenge but with God’s help, with a very supportive and talented Council and with a Community who prayed for me daily, it went by very quickly.”
Sr. Barbara Jean began her term by being diagnosed with leukemia. In 2014, as she celebrated her 60th Jubilee, she said she “thanks God daily for the gift of life and health.”