When students think of OLSH Theology teacher Mrs. Nancy Jarocki, they might not expect to find out that she originally graduated with a Medical Technology degree and also has been skydiving in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. While these fun facts do not fully define Nancy’s career, they show that Nancy is not afraid to take risks and follow whatever path God calls her to take.
After graduating from Gannon University in 1980, Nancy worked as a Medical Technologist in Dayton, OH before returning home to Pittsburgh with her husband, Mark. After Nancy had her three daughters, Sally ‘00, Katie ‘03, and Elizabeth ‘06, she worked part-time with local doctors until 2001.
However, God had other plans for Nancy’s life. In 1997, Nancy began a Masters in Theology program at Franciscan University, completely changing her previous career path.
“I felt this call to educate myself in Theology. It was just for personal reasons, not necessarily to ever teach,” Nancy said. “God sent me on a journey of faith and it was an organic thing to grow deeper in prayer through my studies.”
One challenge to the program was that while it was offered remotely, there were no Zoom sessions or online exams; Nancy got her lectures on physical tapes in order to learn the material. Studying for the program while raising her 3 girls and working part-time was not an easy task, but after almost 10 years, Nancy graduated from Franciscan University with her Masters of Theology and Christian Ministries in 2007.
“It was very clear and specific that God called me to teaching,” Nancy said. “And it was obvious that I was supposed to be at OLSH because I felt that my heart was here. I knew this is what God wanted me to do.”
Nancy was hired as the part-time Campus Minister at OLSH in 2004. In 2005, she was hired to teach Theology to sophomores and seniors. She has been the Chair of the Ministry Team, which meets to plan and manage faith-based events and activities, since 2006.
Nancy never thought she could teach teenagers, but realized that she loves working with this age group, now teaching Senior Honors and College Prep Theology IV. She enjoys having the seniors because she can have deeper conversations about living their faith in the world today.
“Seniors are at the age where they are beginning to think beyond themselves and beyond the walls of OLSH,” Nancy said. “They know they need God in their lives and they begin to understand what the Catholic worldview is.”
In addition to teaching part-time, Nancy is very involved with campus ministry at OLSH. She is an adult leader on the annual Chi Rho retreat, assists with the Senior Service Day, March for Life, and other campus ministry events, and was even on the committee to form the OLSH mission statement.
“I have always loved OLSH even when my daughters attended,” Nancy said. “All of the faculty here have the best interest of the kids at heart and it does feel like a family. We all really care about the whole child; it’s not just about academics, it is about body, mind, spirit, and soul.”
Nancy and her husband, Mark, have been married for 41 years and their 3 daughters are now grown. Nancy loves playing with her 4 grandchildren, spending days with her immediate family in the area, and taking beach vacations together in the summer.
Knowing how God can change people’s lives, Nancy hopes to leave her students with the ability to think critically about their faith and how they can live it out. Most importantly, she hopes that they know Jesus and have an intimate relationship with Him.
“In the end, if my students can take what I taught them into the world, outside of the OLSH bubble, then I’ll feel like I succeeded,” Nancy said. “I hope that they leave OLSH with a strong foundation in both doctrine and spirituality and to know that God is always with them through the good and the bad.”
Nancy’s journey to become a teacher was an unconventional one, but she always keeps one clear goal in mind for all of her students.
“I think this quote by St. John Paul II sums it up best: ‘The most beautiful and stirring adventure that can happen to you is the personal meeting with Jesus, who is the only one who gives real meaning to our lives,’” Nancy said. “I really want my students to know Jesus and His Church - that’s the bottom line for me.”