Sister Carole Lombard

We Remember Her When We Seek Justice So There May Be Peace, And Care for all of Creation

Carole Lombard

February 18, 1939 – July 23, 2013

Just a little over a week ago, Carole and Pat had a conversation about Carole’s wishes for today’s liturgy. According to Pat, Carole quickly wrote out her choices for readings and music. The result of that conversation you hold in your hands.

Today’s Psalm refrain: You are all we have…You give us what we need…our lives are in your hands, O God, our lives are in your hands, Carole firmly believed and she bore witness to that belief right up to the moment that God, holding her in God’s loving embrace, called her home. Pure grace …God’s gift to her as well as to all who observed her life when she was well and most especially to those who witnessed, companioned and journeyed with her during her months at New England Sinai or her week at Saint Elizabeth’s.

Some months ago a verbal invitation went out from S. Rosemary to the Sisters, Associates and Motherhouse staff, to write, if they wished, a note to Carole. The response was overwhelming. The greetings, which were to be kept secret from Carole, were collated, artfully designed and placed in a book. In late spring the leadership team brought that book to Carole. You can imagine her surprise and sheer delight in receiving this special gift. During our visit, we told stories including those of our first year experiences as a team; we had some good laughs, shed a few tears, and even tried to sing, as we shared this precious time with Carole, Pat and Carmela. We of course left the book with Carole for her reading and reflection. The greetings were so heartfelt and captured Carole’s spirit quite accurately; that gift was treasured and Carole was grateful for that outpouring of love and support. The book is on the memorial table outside chapel.

What thoughts come to mind when you think of Carole? The multitudinous emails, her thought provoking statements made at Congregational meetings, comments regarding social issues, family gatherings, the earth committee, her love for cats… may be all these and more.

For me, I think of qualities such as courageous determination in every aspect of her life, and not just in these last months of her trying to live her life to the fullest and not be defined by her debilitating illness …. As a child growing up with her parents and brother, Frank, as a student at St. Agnes, Arlington, and at the Mount, as an elementary, secondary and post-secondary teacher, in Religious Education, as a member of an experimental community, and as an activist…participating in marches, protesting one or another aspect of injustice, spending time in prison, being a voice for the voiceless, and even in recent months making a difference in the life of the woman in the bed across the hall from Carole, for to her, Carole was a model of hope and an example of courage.

I think of her clearly articulated conviction, that by working for justice, only then would peace be achieved. For many years, as the Director of the Office of Justice and Peace, Carole raised our awareness regarding the critical social issues effecting society. She educated us, communicated to us frequently via e-mail, how many times in one day did we receive an email challenging us “to the more” on issues of human trafficking, immigration, of our interaction with creation, including all of God’s creation, 4 legged as well as 2 legged, of peace and other justice issues needing attention and action. She helped develop our congregation’s corporate stances on the earth, nuclear arms and human trafficking. She was very involved in the work of the Trafficking Committee, and with the Directors of Justice and Peace of the CSSJ Federation. Basically, Carole held out to us our duty and responsibility as good citizens of this world.

Lastly, I think of her fidelity and abiding faith in God. Because the seeds of her faith were planted and nourished in her home, Carole acknowledged that everything in her life was grace that free, God given gift, which she willingly received and gladly shared with others. I think that to Carole, the invitation to respond to God’s call to live with integrity, dedication and commitment, her one wonder filled life as a vowed member of this CSJ community held out infinite possibilities. She took seriously the words of our vision statement …that she was enflamed with the compassion of God, that she was a woman of the Church, rooted in the Gospel, and that she was impelled by God’s active inclusive love.

I, like many of you, had the privilege of visiting Carole during her time in each of the hospitals and experienced what we call, our ever widening circles of relationships that developed among the medical personnel, other patients and waiting room visitors. From all accounts Carole was a wonderful patient, who tried to do all she was asked, and was an inspiration to all who ministered to her.

Deep and heartfelt gratitude is extended to the Doctors, nurses and staff at both Sinai and St. E’s, for their devotedness and tender care they provided Carole and for their solicitous attention to Pat who companioned Carole so gently and lovingly especially during these past several months.

Carole’s transitions in life were many, some, even unexpected; yet she journeyed with joy, openness, purpose, passion and peace. Through it all she continued to dare to dream, to ask the questions, and to seek the more. Carole knew that her life was gift; that her life, as the song says, was and is now in God’s hands.

We each have our own memories of Carole. These are a gift given to help us recall those times that connected us. I invite anyone who wishes to come forward and briefly share a thought or way in which S. Carole touched your life.

Thank you Carole; with God’s grace even in your time of “voicelessness” you continued, by your example and witness, to be the voice of those who felt they had no voice; you raised our awareness and kept before us our responsibility to work for justice so that there may be peace. We rejoice with you now, knowing that you experience the fullness of life in the loving embrace of your God.

Given by Roseann Amico, CSJ
July 27, 2013