Associate Jo Curran Brings Joy and
Commitment to Social Justice in her Daily Life

“Life is a gift.” That’s the philosophy of Adrian Dominican Associate Jo Curran, a member of a St. Louis, Missouri-based group of Associates and Co-Chair – with Associate James Mallare – of the Associates’ Social Justice Circle. Gratitude for the gift of life, commitment to social justice, and partnership with those in need have been the bedrock of Jo’s life.

Now retired after a career focused on the not-for-profit sector, Jo continues that commitment to social justice in her work with other Adrian Dominican Associates through her leadership in the Social Justice Circle. “I have always been involved in action, usually on the administrative level, but always helping people,” Jo said. “The social justice work has been a natural for me because I understand how important it is for us to be in partnership and to be allies with those who need us.”

Jo has especially been an advocate for racial justice issues. In her professional work, she had many African American colleagues and engaged in African American communities. She recalled being jarred by the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in the St. Louis area. While she had initially considered joining the marches, she instead reached out and organized a conversation with members of a predominantly African American church, to determine how she and members of her own church community could support them.

Jo and her husband, Edward, moved to St. Louis in 1968 when their daughter and son were in kindergarten and first grade. She served on the Board of Trustees of St. Louis University, a Jesuit college that shared its campus with Aquinas Institute. There, she met Father Charles Bouchard, OP, and served on a council he formed of laypeople active in the community. “That was my first connection with the Dominicans since I was in school,” taught by Kentucky Dominican Sisters in central Nebraska, Jo noted.

Jo came to know Dee Joyner, a student at Aquinas, and together they joined a newly forming Adrian Dominican Associate group in St. Louis. They met with Adrian Dominican Sisters Patricia Walter, OP, Joan Delaplane, OP, Maribeth Howell, OP, Peggy Coyne, OP, and Sara Fairbanks, OP. After the Sisters left St. Louis for other ministries, the Associate group remained strong and remained in contact with the Sisters, especially Sister Joan. The St. Louis group continues to meet by Zoom, welcoming Associates from other areas as well.

The Sisters – especially Sister Joan – have strongly influenced Jo, who follows Sister Joan’s message of always feeling “blessed and grateful.” 

“I hope that’s what I’m helping people with,” Jo said. “Some people aren’t wired with joy. I’m wired with joy, and that allows me to be grateful. Not everybody has that, and they can be overwhelmed or focus on pain.” 

Jo also strives daily to live out the Dominican Charism of listening – following the example of St. Dominic, who spent an entire night listening to a barkeeper. “Dominic was trying to have reasonable conversations, and he was listening,” Jo said. In the senior complex in St. Louis, where she and Edward moved after her retirement, Jo strives to build relationships with a greeting and a smile, sometimes spending 15 minutes listening. “I think I have found a way to use whatever gifts I might have that I’m supposed to be using, and I do think that those are Dominican gifts,” she said.