Sister Carlene O’Donnell was a Sister of Mercy for 73 years. She earned a Master of Reading at Rhode Island College and continued her ministry of teaching children and training new teachers. Many students contributed their later success to the skills imparted in Sister’s classes.
The 1970s saw a call to religious to respond to the call of Vatican II to assist the Church to meet the needs of the twentieth century. With its emphasis on the Gospel message, renewal of liturgy, and involvement of laity, the Council inspired women like Sister to prepare to work in parishes. After working in a parish, Sister went to Fordham University and earned a Masters in Religious Education. She returned to serve in parishes such as St. Catherine, Apponaug, and Christ the King in Kingston. It was here Sister said she formed strong bonds of spirituality with the other teachers and created lasting relationships within the community.
After twenty years in parish ministry, she was asked by the Principal of St. Mary Academy Bay View to return to the school as a guidance counselor for the middle school young women. At first, she hesitated, unsure of the change, but once she accepted the position, she found that it was another growth period for her. When she retired, she volunteered in parishes until moving to Mount St Rita to be present to the needs of other residents and staff.
For her seventieth anniversary, she reflected that CARITAS was her motto. She wrote, “I have tried to live this word during my years in Mercy, moving from one place of Mercy Ministry to another. We who know Sister celebrate her life of CARITAS.