Sister Mary Joan Kerner entered the Sisters of Divine Providence in 1966 from her home parish of Annunciation in Pittsburgh. She considers her aunt, Sister Mary Florence Escher, as the person who most influenced her decision to enter religious life.
Sister Mary Joan's ministry includes serving as a nurse at Carney Hospital in Boston (1968–71), a nurse at Jordan Hospital in Plymouth (1971–72), a pediatric intensive care nurse at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Boston (1975–82; 1988–91), and a teacher at Sacred Heart Elementary in Kingston, Massachusetts (1982–85). She served as provincial councillor for the Community in Boston (1996–2001). From 1980 to 2012, she took care of the elderly/infirm at Providence House, and then became director of nurses at Home Care Annex, later named Lourdes Center. Currently, she is the administrator and sacristan at Providence House in Kingston.
Self-described as friendly, compassionate and giving, Sister Mary Joan enjoys gardening, woodworking, puzzles and keeping up with current events. She says of how she sees herself living out her charism, "To show by my life that I am a Sister of Divine Providence. I try to do this by helping others to trust in God's Providence. As a nurse, I am very conscious of our Sisters whose end of life may be near and I try to spend time with them."