April 14, 1916 – August 29, 2017
I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have loved you and you are mine
“We see relationship at the heart of mission and thus we seek to become ever more united in the mind and heart of Christ Jesus, and to foster growth in one another for the sake of the new creation.” These words taken from the Constitution of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, and those of Psalm 139 which was prayed on Tuesday, the day S. Antoine died, awakened in me the manner S. Antoine Carroll chose to live her life, desirous of experiencing God’s love and faithfulness as reciprocal, of being aware of God’s presence in her life, of witnessing to others that presence and love, of being unstinting in her giving, and being familiar with God and his ways, as God was of her.
Antoine, Honora Marie Carroll, was born over 101 plus years ago in Boston and together with her parents, Hannah and Andrew, and older sister, Mary Margaret, grew up in the Cathedral parish, Boston. In 1933, a few months after graduating from Cathedral High School, Nora, moved by Spirit responded to God’s call and entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph, following the example of her sister, Mary, Sister Sylvia, who was three years her senior. For just two weeks shy of 84 years, S. Antoine devotedly and generously responded to this call by living her life as a dedicated woman religious. Her life extended through two centuries. Throughout these years she saw many transitions in the church, in religious life and in the world, and responded to the challenges and joys that resulted with openness, and grace.
In today’s first reading the prophet Jeremiah articulates God’s relationship and promise to the exiled people of Israel: “I will take care of you as I promised; I will bring you home. When you call and pray, I will listen. When you are serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I will let you find me. I will make sure that you will not be disappointed. I know the plans I have in mind for you; I am reserving for you a future full of hope.”
I’d like to think that God made a similar promise to S. Antoine. Because she trusted in this promise, even though there may have been times when she doubted it, she lived her life confident of God’s love and faithfulness and in the belief that one day God would bring her to her final home.
S. Antoine lived her long blest life doing what she loved best, being a Sister of Saint Joseph, teaching, following her beloved Boston Red Sox, enjoying the company of her sister and friends and serving others.
For most of her ministerial career, Sister was an educator in various Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Boston. As teacher, principal or vice principal, Antoine conducted herself with professionalism, and created a learning environment in which students were challenged and encouraged to develop to their fullest potential.
Throughout these many years Antoine demonstrated such qualities as gentleness and strength, peace and compassion, attentiveness and patience, graciousness and gratitude. Whether with her students, their parents, her colleagues, sisters in her local community or with the Bethany Staff she was conscious always that God had her attention, that all was in God’s hands.
Frequently, we CSJ’s talk about the ever widening circle of relationship; connecting neighbor with neighbor and neighbor with God. When Antoine was missioned to Bethany her ministry became that of prayers, companionship, and being a source of encouragement and hope to all those with whom she interacted. Antoine connected well.
So today, we pray in gratitude for the life of Sister Antoine Carroll and rejoice with and for her knowing that she now celebrates new life in the presence of the One who said, “I will take care of you as I promised; I will bring you home.” On Tuesday morning, S. Antoine heard again God’s call. This time her anticipated “future full of hope”, her waiting, expectation, and longing was now realized. Be at peace Antoine.
Roseann Amico, CSJ
September 1, 2017