In memoriam: Theologian Jan Poorman

Author: Dennis Brown

Janice Poorman, director of formation and field education and professor of the practice in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, died Wednesday (March 10) after a courageous battle with breast cancer. She was 68.

“Jan's dedication to her students and to their integral formation as ministers was phenomenal,” Timothy Matovina, professor of theology and department chair, said. “In her own life she modeled that integration in exemplary fashion, and she challenged, cajoled and inspired her colleagues and students to do the same. Her influence on all she touched is lasting, but we already miss her joyful presence, leadership and friendship.” 

Raised in Phoenix; Bakersfield, California; and Springfield, Illinois; Poorman earned junior college and bachelor’s degrees from Lincoln Land Community College and Southern Illinois University, respectively. She went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in theology from Notre Dame with a concentration in systematic theology.

Poorman served for 28 years in numerous positions at Notre Dame, including associate dean of the Graduate School and director of formation and field education in the master of divinity program. She was among the designers of two of the University’s most innovative initiatives in support of the Catholic Church — the Echo Faith Formation Leadership Program, where she continued as a senior formation advisor, and Notre Dame Vision, in which she taught the undergraduate “Mentors in Faith” course. She also regularly presented at retreats and formation workshops and as a facilitator of the art of theological reflection.

She was especially passionate about placing master of divinity candidates in positions in the community and working in support of gender relations at Notre Dame — both which empower students to find fulfillment and achieve success.

Poorman is survived by her two children, Jesse and Anna; her father, Robert Poorman; four siblings; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

A funeral Mass will be held at 9:30 a.m. Monday (March 15) at Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart and can be viewed online here. It will be followed by a graveside service at Cedar Grove Cemetery on campus. Her brother, Rev. Mark Poorman, C.S.C., will preside.

Memorial contributions can be sent to One Sky.

Originally published by Dennis Brown at on March 14, 2021.