Sr. Holzer '49: A Woman of Mission

January 1, 2013


Sr. Janet M. Holzer ’49, SFCC, felt called to missionary life when she was a young woman but obtaining a quality education was equally as important to her. After she took a bookkeeping class in business school, Sister Janet discovered she was a “numbers person” and decided to pursue a degree in accounting. When asked why she chose Canisius College, the East Side native replied, “I wanted nothing less than the best education I could get and so there was no question about my going to Canisius.”

At the time Sister Janet attended Canisius, women could only take classes after 4:30 p.m. So Sister Janet worked full-time day jobs and attended college in the evenings. It took six years to complete her undergraduate degree but the proud Canisius graduate reflects, “I received an excellent education on my own.”

She also developed a deep admiration for the Jesuits at Canisius College. “Those men really were devoted to the educational commitment of the Society of Jesus and their religious lives,” she recalls.

Sister Janet took the lessons she learned at Canisius with her when she joined the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in Bethlehem, PA, fulfilling her early desire to be a missionary on the home-front. These Sisters work with African American and Native American populations to “share the Gospel message and challenge the deeply rooted injustice in the world today.”

Sister Janet’s first assignment, in 1955, was as a junior accountant at Xavier University in New Orleans. The six-week assignment evolved into a 12-year career, both in accounting and teaching. Sister Holzer went on to obtain an MBA in accounting and finance from The Wharton School of Business and credited her Canisius education, from 20 years prior, for “giving her the groundwork in accounting to be successful.”

Now a member of the Sisters for Christian Community, Sister Janet continues to live out the mission she so admired in the Jesuits at Canisius College. She recently established the Sr. Janet M. Holzer ’49 SFCC Endowed Scholarship through a charitable gift annuity. The scholarship supports female African American students enrolled in the Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

“I want to give these young women a chance to have a full college experience and to go into a profession prepared to make a difference in the African American community,” explains Sister Janet.

Canisius is grateful for the generosity and devotion of Sr. Janet Holzer.