Home » Obituaries » Sister Caroline Hatch


Sister Caroline Hatch

Sister Caroline Hatch

“People were bringing even infants to Jesus that he might touch them, and when the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. Jesus, however, called the children to himself and said, ‘Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the reign of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the reign of God like a child will not enter it.’”

—– Luke 18:15-17

This scripture passage seemed more than appropriate for a woman who spent 60 years teaching first grade! Sister Caroline Hatch was that woman. For 10 years, children came to her in Chicago; for three years in Rochester, New Hampshire; and for 47 years in Massachusetts, 41 of them at St. Rose School, in Chelsea. To my way of thinking, anyone who taught first grade for 60 years surely went straight to heaven, said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Caroline Hatch, who died Monday, Jan. 9, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 90 years old and had been a Sister of Providence for 70 years.

Caroline Frances was born on Feb. 9, 1926, to William and Johanna Moore Hatch in Hingham, Massachusetts. She was one of six children, with four sisters and one brother. Caroline would love it when sisters called her “Caroline Hatch from Hingham.” Hingham is a small town in Massachusetts which had and still has very few Catholics, so saying “Caroline Hatch from Hingham,” was equivalent to Nathanial asking, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

Caroline attended the public grade school and high school in Hingham. After graduating high school in 1943, Caroline worked as a bookkeeper at the Hingham Shipyard. It seems certain that she probably had never met a sister, let alone a Sister of Providence. It was her parish priest, Father John Mulkern, who asked if she ever considered entering a religious community. The priest had been at St. Rose, Chelsea, prior to going to Hingham; thus, he suggested the Sisters of Providence. Caroline’s father was not a Catholic. He told his wife that Caroline didn’t need to worry about getting married because he would continue to take care of her and that she definitely did not need to become a nun. As recently as the Senior Jubilee celebration, on Dec. 8, Sister Caroline talked about Father Mulkern.

However, as Providence would have it, Caroline entered the Congregation on July 22, 1946. She was given the religious name Sister Mary Caroline and later was known simply as Caroline. She professed her first and final vows on July 22, 1949 and 1954, respectively. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and her master’s in education from Indiana State University.

Sisters who lived with Caroline recall her as a “treasure to live with,” a very happy person with a fabulous sense of humor which brought joy to recreation and any other celebrations. She loved summer vacation with other sisters at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and was considered a “great water skier.”

To say she was an excellent and creative first grade teacher probably does not do her justice. One could tell by the sparkle in her eyes, the spring in her step and her boundless energy around children and days packed full of projects, plays, rhythm band and more.

She literally taught first grade to generations of children at St. Rose, in Chelsea, and it was every parents’ hope that their child would be assigned to Sister Caroline’s classroom. She was happiest putting on shows with the children, teaching them dances, making the costumes herself and making music with instruments. The liturgical year came alive for her first graders. It was legendary for the rest of the school to come to the auditorium for their different performances. If you visited Caroline’s classroom, you would see all manner of small appliances – blenders, food choppers, mixers – all in an effort to give her “little ones” hands-on experiences of a country’s culture or food.

She saw the humor in 6-year-olds and laughed out loud a lot herself with her classes. There are several funny stories which Caroline would tell over the years. One day, Caroline was her usual animated self when the snap of her skirt popped. Her skirt fell to the floor. One little girl simply replied, “Good thing you wore a slip today, Sister!”

Her success as a first grade teacher was summed up thus: She knew how to be one with the children without losing herself as an adult. She knew exactly when to stop the merriment to get a life-principle across according to their level of growth. Most importantly, she practiced Mother Theodore’s maxim to “love the children first, then teach them.” And she was that same way with adults. She never knew a stranger and many experienced her kind and unassuming ways. No wonder she has icon status at St. Rose!

In many respects, Caroline was way ahead of her times, especially in the embracing of diversity and the immigrant. Chelsea was a center of welcome for many people who had to flee from the Castro regime in Cuba in the 1960s. St. Rose changed practically overnight and Caroline found herself with a number of children coming into first grade who spoke only Spanish. Undaunted, she enrolled in a Spanish class at night in Revere High School. She was really the first one who was able to communicate with these small children, as well as with their parents.

Caroline devoted every Saturday to different tasks in St. Rose Parish Church. It is facetiously said that she “ran the parish,” and considering that she was church sacristan for about 30 years, one would tend to agree.

She prepared the altar, laid out the priests’ vestments, was a cantor and lector, laundered and pressed all the church linens, as well as the altar boys’ attire. Thanks to her, the church was always decorated tastefully and beautifully. There was an altar facing the people, but the large ornate high altar was still there and so that was prepared beautifully also. Beyond that, she often served as a resource to the young and the old and to newly assigned priests, who would often “learn the ropes” from Caroline.

Sister Caroline was a bundle of energy, often bounding up and down the four stories of St. Rose convent, in seemingly effortless flow. Her love of life was evident in her everyday living. She always had a gorgeous garden of flowers and vegetables in the courtyard of the convent, used by many of the sisters as a reflective area. She was remembered as a “good and fair” house treasurer and evidently had the process of accounting for expenditures “down to a science.” In her retirement, she was always working on a baby blanket for some family she knew in the parish. The gifts she had, she shared. She was a private person who didn’t share a lot about herself. She just did … and that gave her joy.

When Caroline returned to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in November last year, she wanted to see two things: Saint Mother Theodore’s shrine and the alpacas, reflecting, I believe, her great love for Mother Theodore on whom she modeled her life and her own child-like delight in all creation.

I’ll end this by quoting one of the many comments that have been left on the Sisters of Providence website following notice of Sister Caroline’s death. This one is from Jennifer Gillis and it is directed to “Sister Sinatra.”

“You will be sorely missed. You were and are beloved by every child that crossed your path and remembered with love and fondness by every adult who ever had the honor of being your student. You taught generations of my family. You sang in choir with my mother. You encouraged me to sing loud and proud when you gave me a solo at Sunday Mass when I was 6 years old. When I thought I did poorly because all the adults were crying, you told me they were crying because it was so beautiful. I hung on every word you said. You gave me confidence. Thank you for that!”

Indeed, Sister Caroline, thank you for that … and for leaving us a rich legacy of your love of children, your big smile and great heart and your readiness to help all.

Services for Sister Caroline took place on Wednesday, Jan. 11, and Thursday, Jan. 12, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception.

A Wake took place from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., on Wednesday, Jan. 11, with Vespers at 4:30 p.m.

Mass of Christian Burial took place at 11 a.m., on Thursday, Jan. 12.

We welcome you to share your memories of Sister Caroline in the comment section below.

Share this:

Donate in her honor

Has this sister made a difference in your life? Help continue the mission.

Obituary search

At this time, our site contains all Sisters of Providence obituaries beginning in 2009.

Looking for a sister?

Find her here! Photos, articles, obituaries of sisters you have known and loved.

Subscribe to obituaries

Sign up to receive notifications in your inbox when a new obituary is posted.


  1. Avatar Helen Curran Gurska on January 9, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Sister Caroline was so loved by my family. She taught my children and some of my grandchildren. She loved being a teacher to the young ones. /she always had a happy heart when she was with them. We will miss her sense of humor her kindness and love. May she rest in God’s Heavenly Garden. Sincerely The Gurska Family.

  2. Avatar Barbara Ibarra (Gillis) on January 9, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    Sister Caroline was an icon at St Rose. She was loved by many and will be fondly remembered always. Rest in peace with the angels Sister

  3. Avatar Maureen Mulkern on January 9, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Sister Caroline was a devoted teacher who never lost her passion for her students. I knew her as a student and a teacher and her boundless enthusiasm was remarkable. She loved what she did and the students she taught. Her energy was amazing. She touched so many lives and for so many years as a teacher at St. Rose Elementary School, Chelsea, Mass. She will be greatly missed.

  4. Avatar Jacqueline Finnegan on January 9, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Sister Caroline was loved dearly, not only did I meet her at St. Rose School in Chelsea, MA, she was our neighbor on Tudor Street when she lived at the convent there. Rest In Peace Sister Caroline, you were deeply loved and you had a great personality and we will always remember your humor fondly.

  5. Avatar Marion on January 9, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    So sad to hear about the passing of our beloved Sister Caroline. She taught our children at St Rose in Chelsea,Ma. She truly developed a love of learning in all of her students ~ so loved by all ~ we were Blessed immensely to have had her be a part of our children’s lives, during those formative years. She was the best first grade teacher any child could hope to have. Rest In Peace Lovely Woman❤️❤️ The Cameron Family (Kehoe)

  6. Avatar Danielle LoVuolo Bianco on January 9, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Sister Caroline was my first grade teacher. She never gave up on me even though my reading skills were terrible. She was so kind and wonderful. As a child I thought she was so cool when I would see her running up Webster Ave. How many kids get to see their teachers determination outside the class. She inspired so many generations. I’m glad she got to meet my boys before she passed. May her eternal journey by God’s side be full of joy and happiness. We love you Sister! Thank you for all you did for so many of us!

  7. Avatar Lisa on January 9, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    My first teaching position was opposite Sr. Caroline. What a wonderful, gracious, patient woman. In today’s teaching environs new teachers have mentors assigned to them. Sister Caroline was my mentor before it was fashionable. I will always be forever grateful for the opportunity to shadow and learn from the best. God bless you always!

    • Avatar Joyce on January 11, 2017 at 11:55 am

      The memories of Sister Caroline will live in the hearts of so many students, teachers and parents.
      The classroom teaching was very special to her students but all of the lovely memories of her stage presentations gave her students so much more than the classroom setting.
      (The musical band the holiday programs are very special memoriesct…footlights on, curtains open, music begins and the stage at St Rose became a new world for her young, eager students)
      Angels are now gathering in heaven and waiting for Sister Caroline to begin rehearsal for the first annual Valentine Production called “Love”. Thank you Sister Caroline for all 70 years of service and devotion to your students.

  8. Avatar Dana Lombardi on January 10, 2017 at 6:17 am

    Sister Caroline was my first grade teacher, she was so kind and loving. No other teacher could compare to her, she was truly special. I still think of her often and it’s been almost 40 years. God bless you Sister Caroline.

  9. Avatar Diane Araya on January 10, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Sister Caroline was my first grade teacher in 1980 at St Rose in Chelsea MA. My favorite teacher, sweet, caring and loving. She made me feel safe and loved. I have never forgotten her. Thank you, rest in peace.

  10. Avatar Denise DeFalco on January 10, 2017 at 7:53 am

    She was my first grade teacher, and one of my favorites through all my years in school. I fondly remember her reading us the stories of “The Boxcar Children”, so much so that when I had my own children, I read them to them. She was a wonderful person, with such a big smile and a big heart!

  11. Avatar Mary Renda on January 10, 2017 at 9:40 am

    I had Sister Mary Caroline (as she was called then) for 2nd grade CCD at St. Rose in Chelsea. She had a beautiful singing voice and I remember her distinctly telling me, “Don’t ever be afraid to sing in church, even if you’re the only one!” I took her advice to heart and have been a church musician for many years.

    I’ve long since moved away from St. Rose, but circumstances found me at a Mass at the church about 20 years ago. I recognized her right away and went up to her and told her my memories and how she’d influenced me. What a special lady. I’m sure she is reaping her heavenly rewards now!

  12. Avatar Jennifer Gillis on January 10, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Sister Sinatra,

    You will sorely be missed. You were and are beloved by every child that crossed your path and remembered with loved and fondness by every adult who ever had the honor of being your student. You taught generations of my family. You sang in choir with my mother. You encouraged me to sing loud and proud when you gave me a solo at Sunday Mass when I was 6 yrs old. When I thought I did poorly because all the adults were crying you told me that they were crying because it was beautiful. I hung on every word you said. You gave me confidence. Thank you for that!

    “If I were a butterfly, I’d thank you Lord for giving me wings. If I were a fish in the sea, I’d wiggle my tail and I’d giggle with glee and I just thank you Father for making me me. ”

    Sing with the angels, Sister Caroline

  13. Avatar Arline Whyel on January 10, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    So sorry to hear of Sister Caroline’s passing. She was a wonderful Nun and teacher. Always smiling and ready to help all. My children loved her. God Bless and enjoy Heaven.

    The Whyel Family

  14. Avatar Sally carlo pagan on January 10, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Sister Carolina a especial human being. I remember her so well.her tender manner as well as spiritul . my dsughters attended St. Rose . chelsea,ma .

    May she rest in peace and join our heavenly father .amen

  15. Avatar Patty Lewis-Pepi on January 10, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    Sister Caroline was very special to me and my family “The Hinckley’s” she was my first grade teacher and like family to me. I will treasure every memory

  16. Avatar Jonathan Bowen on January 10, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    I’m so saddened to hear. I had no idea that she was still alive. I figured she might be 125 years old by now but that’s me thinking as a first grader at St. Rose Elementary School back in 1978-1979. She was tough but friendly. She worked hard. I wish I took the time to let her know that she such was a special influence in my life. No teacher ever compared to Sister Caroline.

  17. Avatar donna nuzzo on January 10, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    I cannot forget all the work and happiness we shared at St. Rose Elementary School in Chelsea, Ma. I was honored to be lunch mother, “Hot Dog Lady”, substitute teacher and President of the Women’s Club for more than ten years. Helping you with your First Communion celebrations, attending your Passover meals and your loving kindness to my son and grandchild, Angelina. I am sure you are with Sister Eleanor Marie, Sister Thomasine, Sister Agnes Theodore, Sister Marie Germaine and the one and only Mrs. Barbara Bruce. May God Bless all of you; you have always been in my thoughts as you helped me to grow into the person I am as a preschool teacher. Your love has stayed with me forever as a friend and loving person. Rest in Peace my angel.

  18. Avatar Carolynn on January 11, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Sister Caroline was indeed the warmest, loving, teacher I had the greatest opportunity to meet and know, at St. Rose. During that time, I had many, many, medical issues and I was brought to St. Rose by my mom.. Having to endure ridicule from the kids and the Nun, at Immaculate Conception, in Revere. Before I entered the first grade. Sister Caroline or I knew her: Sister Mary Caroline, stood at the front of the class and explained to each and every one of her students, about some of my obvious medical issues. and how I endured the teasing from other students in the other school. And, she would none of that in her classroom. Should any of the students have questions, ” they could ask me directly and I would only be more than happy to answer them.. So, in saying that, ” Sister Caroline and the whole of the 1st grade, Welcomed me into their class. From that day, I excelled. It was her understanding, compassionate, loving, hand that guided through the first grade and help me put self-esteem back into my life. For that, I will always cherish and hold onto,forever..

  19. Avatar Nikolas Avellaneda on January 11, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Sister Caroline was the definition of dedication and love at Saint Rose! It is not the same without her sharing her passion and love for each student!

  20. Avatar Joanne Macaluso-Fentress on January 11, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Sr. Caroline was an amazing teacher and friend. Over the years from my time at St. Rose she became very close with my family. I’m so grateful for her in all of our hard times. My son never had her as a teacher but adored her. He loved to go and visit her. She will hold a very special place in our hearts. May you Rest In Peace sweet angel!

  21. Avatar DAWN on January 12, 2017 at 8:08 am

    Sister Caroline wasy daughters 1st grade teacher at Saint Rose in Chelsea MA. Sweet woman who loved everyone especially her children. Heaven has received another Angel. Rest in peace and love!

  22. Avatar Phyllis Spak Morneau on January 13, 2017 at 7:24 am

    Hello everyone. My name is Phyllis Spak-Morneau. I am a niece of “Aunt Caroline”, the daughter of her sister, Helen Hatch Spak. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes after reading the beautiful obituary and comments written about my Aunt Caroline. It truly captures the essence of my Aunt, Sister Caroline. She was a wonderful Aunt, full of a zest for life and certainly humor. I am disheartened to say that in recent years I had not been in contact with my Aunt as I should have been. But I always felt love for her. I will remember her as a kind woman full of life and humor. A wonderful daughter, sister, Aunt, and much admired teacher. I believe she is with the other “Hatch girls” now and they are truly having a wonderful time together. Much love to all of you who have shared your thoughts. Sincerely, Phyllis Spak-Morneau.

  23. Avatar Robert Leo Terrio, Jr. on September 26, 2018 at 2:34 am

    Sister Caroline was one of my favorite teachers. She was always there for you and was always in the best of spirits. She had a wonderful way about her and a wonderful voice. She was the one to first notice that I had a reading disability and a lisp and she helped me climb over that hurdle. She will be sorely missed by all the people that lives she touched. She brought joy to all that knew and loved her. I will always love you Sister Caroline. May you rest in peace. Until we meet again.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.