Home » Obituaries » Sister Carolyn Glynn (formerly Sister John Michael)


Sister Carolyn Glynn (formerly Sister John Michael)

Reading: John 15:12-17

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: that you lay down your life for your friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

Several days before her death, Carolyn, ever the storyteller, made a videotape, primarily for her family, about several instances in her life, said Sister Ann Casper in her commentary for Sister Carolyn Glynn, formerly Sister John Michael, who passed away on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023, at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana. She was 88-years-old and had been a Sister of Providence for 70 years.

Sister Ann continued: She noted that she leaves this life “with joy and deep gratitude for the Congregation that accepted me, helped me to grow and educated me. I was blessed by your love, acceptance, patience and, hopefully, by your forgiveness.” She then spoke of Providence as a “dome that has covered her throughout her life and enabled so many of her blessings.”

Days later, Sister Paula Damiano visited her and learned from Carolyn that she had one item left on her bucket list: she wanted her last words to be “gratitude sent out to all comers of the universe.”

Caroline Ann was born to Allen and Caroline Rooney Glynn on March 21, 1935, in Malden, Massachusetts. She loved her large family: three sisters, Elizabeth, Rosemary and Florence, along with three brothers, Timothy, Allen and John Michael. All her siblings except John Michael are living.

The video recounts that Caroline attended elementary school at Cheverus in Malden, from which she graduated in 1953, but with a blank diploma, for her family owed a $12 book bill and she refused to tell her mother because she knew she did not have the money to pay it. She went on to Cheverus for high school. The $12 bill remained for four years and graduation from high school was with another blank diploma.

Sister Carolyn mentioned in the video that a scroll mysteriously appeared on her desk at the time of her graduation. The message was, “I want you, yes you.” And she knew it was God calling her to religious life. True to the message on the scroll, shortly after her graduation from high school she entered the Sisters of Providence on July 22, 1953, despite the fact that the superior, who had to write her a letter of recommendation, tried to convince her to join a diocesan community, so she would be closer to her large family. She tells of how her mother went with her to the convent and more or less told the superior in no certain terms: “I am the mother and I will take care of my children. If God is calling Caroline to the Sisters of Providence, we cannot interfere.” I might add that when I talked to her sister Rosemary, she shared that she was convinced that Caroline would never make it as a nun. “Too many strange rules, like saluting one’s guardian angel instead of the person herself! What was that all about?”

Her reception into the novitiate, first profession of vows and profession of perpetual vows all occurred on Jan. 23, 1954, 1956 and 1961, respectively. Early in her religious life, she was given the name Sister John Michael, in honor of her younger brother. Later, she returned to her baptismal name as did many of us. Her education continued at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, where she earned a bachelor’s of science degree in elementary education. Later, she earned a master’s in education at DePaul University and a doctor of ministry degree from Graduate Theological Foundation in Mishawaka, Indiana.

Sister Carolyn Glynn greets Providence Associate Diann Neu with a hug

Of her 70 years as a Sister of Providence, she spent 22 years as a primary teacher in Indiana, Massachusetts, California and Illinois. After completing her ministry degree in 1980, she served in parish ministry for 12 years in the Chicago archdiocese and then for seven years in the diocese of Venice, Florida.

Providence Associate Sheila Donis was a first grader in Sister Carolyn’s first class at St. Mel in Chicago and recalled that Sister Carolyn told the whole class to put on their coats, go outside and go home … at 10 a.m.! Evidently, Carolyn felt that she had taught them everything she knew! Fortunately, the principal intervened and saved the day! Years later, when Sister Carolyn was ministering in Florida, their paths crossed again as they both assisted Sister Cathy Buster with her ministry to migrants at Casa San Juan Bosco. Sister Carolyn was also instrumental in applying to the Foley Fund to fund the education of a Hispanic family. In various capacities, along with her dear friend and co-worker Sister Teresa Costello, she ministered to Hispanic populations, including migrants and farm workers, for nearly 20 years. She said of this ministry, “Although I have enjoyed all of my ministries through the years, this work was especially dear to my heart.” She also had a special place in her heart for the homeless and the hungry.

Throughout her life as family member, teacher, ministry associate and friend, Carolyn blazed a path of love and service. Sister Marianne Ridgell recalls that “Sister Carolyn was right there to help when my housemate Sister Christine became ill. Carolyn drove her to many appointments and after her death, Carolyn was a healing presence to me, visiting me early each morning and chatting over coffee and Dunkin Donuts.”

Sister Marianne continued, “After Sister Carolyn moved to the Woods herself about two years ago, she began her driving ministry, especially for local doctor’s appointments for the sisters. And she loved it! No place in Indiana or beyond was too far for her to travel if someone needed to go. She would come over to Providence Hall early mornings and have coffee with a small group. Her favorite saying of which she reminded us often with four fingers extended, was ‘we have this moment.’ Her daily routine was to start her day with a grateful heart, do a bit of good, and end the day with gratitude.”

Smiling pretty are Sisters Ann Paula Pohlman and Carolyn Glynn.

Her band member and dear friend Sister Jeanette Lucinio shed some light on Carolyn’s spirituality, calling it “Advent spirituality.” She said that Carolyn had “a joyful longing in her heart and she lived in that space. Carolyn had a contemplative spirit about her. She liked quiet, silence and being alone. Even through the years, Carolyn would call Jeanette as Advent was beginning and ask, ‘Are you ready?’”

Jeanette and Carolyn taught together at St. Therese in Alhambra, California. They taught primary grades and were especially intent on making religion classes come alive for their children. They even started Sunday afternoon classes for primary teachers in the area to show them, through stories especially, how children can fall in love with God. It was during this time, too, that they began to collaborate as writers for both Paulist Press and Sadlier in developing textbooks on the sacraments and teachers’ manuals, all to improve the formation of teachers.

Sister Carolyn’s family have lots of memories associated with Carolyn, especially her nieces and nephews and their children, who affectionately called her Auntie Kooky. Kooky as defined by Webster is “a slightly strange or eccentric person, but in a way that makes you like or love them.” And love Sister Carolyn they certainly did! They knew she wasn’t like a lot of grownups! Her free spirit loved life and good times, having fun and taking risks.

Her niece Allison wrote: “A couple of months ago my aunt mailed me notes that my children sent her about 15 years ago. She said she had them in her ‘treasure box’ and wanted me to have them. She knew she was sick at that point.” Their comments sum up well what she meant to these many youngsters.

Celebrating the late Sister Margaret Louise’s recover (seated) are the late Sister Cathy Buster, left, Sister Marianne Ridgell, Sister Ann Paula Pohlman, the late Sister Mary Ann Leahy, the late Sister Christine Patrick and Sister Carolyn Glynn.

They mentioned visiting Carolyn at her home in Florida where she “let them swim in 70-degree weather with all their clothes on” or their early morning walks on the beach in their pajamas, after which she served them ice cream for breakfast. One thank-you note to her said, “The best part about Florida is being with you!” Greg, Allison’s son, wrote this in a note when he was 16: “You had such enormous generosity and hospitality, letting us buy candy when mom had already said no or letting us buy the junkiest cereal on the shelf, chocolate milk and fattening ice cream.” Her great-niece Debbie recalled an excursion years ago when Carolyn drove the children “with her hands shaking vigorously on the steering wheel as if the car was totally out of control.”

Even in her more serious moments, Sister Carolyn used her wit and Irish humor. As an example, she was the keynote speaker at a conference for more than 1,000 catechists entitled Church 2000 held in 1993 in Naperville, Illinois. About her presentation, she said she was offering those in attendance “an after dinner mint and an Irish coffee – with a bit of a nip in it!” Carolyn’s presentation that night included this paragraph and indicates just how much she yearned to influence religious educators. “You and I have a hunk of God. We are called by the church to gift the next generation – so that a small magical door can open and the hunk of God can be passed on … It is we who step on the pulse of tomorrow in the Church 2000, to proclaim that our God is a God of inexhaustible love – whose mercy is without measure. We are the children of abundance.”

As Sister Carolyn lived with cancer these last several weeks, it was Carolyn’s sister Rosemary who reminded her that she had run the race well and was now finished. Carolyn herself referred to her “empty bucket” – all had been accomplished and she was ready to give herself over to God’s embrace.

In God’s presence she is finally reunited with her brother John Michael and understands his life’s journey with mental illness as just one more instance of being covered by the “dome of Providence.” Carolyn leaves us with many examples of how to live life with love, dedication, service, generosity and deep friendships. Thank you, Carolyn!

Funeral services for Sister Carolyn took place on Tuesday, January 16, and Wednesday, January 17, in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

A Wake took place from 2:30-4:30 p.m., on Tuesday, January 16. A Funeral Mass will take place at 11 a.m., on Wednesday, January 17. A burial service will take place at 10 a.m., on Saturday, January 20, in the Immaculate Conception Church, located at 600 Pleasant St., Malden, Massachusetts.

Memorial contributions may be made in honor of Sister Carolyn to the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.

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

Sister Carolyn Glynn (formerly Sister John Michael)

Complete Ministry

In Illinois: Teacher, St. Mel, Chicago (1956-58); Teacher, St. Genevieve, Chicago (1969-71); Teacher, St. Athanasius, Evanston (1971-74); Teacher, St. Gregory, Chicago (1974-77); Director of Religious Education, St. Mary Parish, Riverside (1980-87); Consultant/Religious Education and Spirituality, Chicago (1987-92).

In Florida: Director of Religious Education, St. Joseph Parish, Bradenton (1992-99); Literacy Instructor, Project Light of Manatee Inc., Bradenton (2000-01); Instructor, Providencia Academica deIngles, Campo Verde/Bradenton (2001-05); Immigration Instructor, Catholic Charities, Bradenton (2005-11); Citizenship Instructor for Catholic Charities, Bradenton (2011-16); Volunteer for Feeding Empty Little Tummies, Bradenton (2016-21).

In Indiana: Teacher, St. Anthony, Indianapolis (1958-61); Driver, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods (2022-23).

In California: Teacher, St. Therese, Alhambra (1961-64); Teacher, Good Shepherd, Pacifica (1977-78).

In Massachusetts: Teacher/CCD Coordinator, St. Rose, Chelsea (1964-68); Teacher, St. Patrick, Stoneham (1968-69).

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  1. Avatar Sr Ann Heaney SP on December 29, 2023 at 12:48 pm

    So sorry to read that Sr Carolyn has left for her heavenly home. I had the privilege of meeting her when visiting with the sisters in Bradenton. May she rest in peace and rise in glory.

  2. Avatar Frank Cicero on December 31, 2023 at 3:25 pm

    What was wrong with the name Sister John Michael may I ask ?

  3. Avatar Georgia Juback on January 2, 2024 at 1:15 pm

    Thanking God for the opportunity to have known and worked for Sr. Carolyn at St. Joseph’s in Bradenton. She was a friend, confidante and inspiration. She and her gracious, good counsel will be missed by all who were blessed through her life and work.

    • Avatar Maria Hussey on January 3, 2024 at 8:42 pm

      Georgia, you have expressed yourself perfectly in the way I would have. She was also a major influence in the lives of my children. They are better people because of Sister Carolyn’s influence in their lives. I cannot thank her enough.

  4. Avatar Carole Eipers on January 3, 2024 at 2:56 pm

    My sympathy to Carolyn’s family whom she treasured so deeply . I knew Sr Carolyn from her days at St Mary in Riverside Illinois. She was a colleague, and the dearest of friends for over 40 years. She sometimes took care of our son Nick who always delighted in her. He sent a photo book and letter to her a few weeks before she died to express his love. Carolyn was a light in my life who saw me through difficult times with concern and great patience and always stories and laughter. I am grateful to have known her and as my son said, “She was family.” I will miss her terribly! Rest in peace Carolyn and rise in glory!

  5. Avatar Jane OBrien on January 8, 2024 at 12:24 pm

    I only met Sr. Carolyn a few times, all in the last year and mostly in passing. She was a breath of fresh air–down-to-earth, bright energetic smile, warm and friendly. She always made me feel welcome and uplifted by her positive spirit and optimism.

  6. Avatar Jennifer SHeehan on January 19, 2024 at 5:58 pm

    Sister Carolyn you were part of our family in FLorida. For over 30 years we were Blessed to call to call you Friend/Family. You have touched so many lives and never really understand to what extent because you had that natural way to express your unconditional love. Thank you!

  7. Avatar Lauren Shue on March 21, 2024 at 5:38 pm

    Sister Carolyn was a huge part of my little sister and brothers upbringing. She had a heart of gold ❤️ may you rest in peace

  8. Avatar Joan Boles on April 2, 2024 at 7:31 pm

    Sister Carolyn is a saint. While on earth her intercessory prayers and those of the sisters led to the miracle of life & health for my grandson Zeph.

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