Sister Carol Jean Ory

Sister Carol Jean OrySister Carol Jean grew up in Aurora, Illinois, the eldest with four younger sisters and a brother who was born after Carol Jean joined the convent. (The family had been hoping for a boy, and Carol Jean’s father had told her that if the baby was a boy, he would call her and ask how the weather was. Needless to say, the family was extremely happy with the arrival of a baby boy!)

Carol Jean knew at an early age that she wanted to be a sister. She remembers coming home in first grade and telling her mom that she wanted to be a sister. Her mom said they would talk about that when she reached eighth grade. 

Because she lived near school, Carol Jean often stayed after school to help the sisters. They were happy people and she wanted to be like them. When she completed eighth grade, Carol Jean went to her mom and once again expressed her desire to be a sister. That fall, she entered the Aspirancy.

Formation years were filled with the usual joys and challenges. She remembers after one of the visiting days, her dad stayed back and said to her, “If you’re going to be a nun, be a good one.” That is exactly what Sister Carol Jean strives to be.

Her first mission was in Okauchee, Wisconsin, with two other sisters. They managed the school, the church work, and anything else that needed to be done. The parish complex was located right by a lake, which helped nurture the love of nature that she inherited from her father. 

Being a missionary has been an important part of Sister Carol Jean’s life. Not long after that first assignment, she found herself in Costa Rica, and she loved the people and the culture there. She has ministered in Costa Rica, Peru, and Mexico.

Like all missionaries, she was called upon to do various things to respond to the needs of the people. From teacher to social worker, spiritual guide, and friend, it was all part of her life. In Peru, that meant setting up food pantries. She established about 40 pantries in Paita, a coastal town where there were many fishing factories. When inspectors visited the canneries, they would open cans of fish which could not be sold. The sisters would collect those opened fish cans and take the fish to be distributed at the food pantries. The sisters also received milk and oatmeal from the government to take to the pantries. While ministering in Peru, Sister Carol Jean guided four young girls along their path to becoming School Sisters of St. Francis.

After Peru, Sister Carol Jean joined our sisters at the Casa Alexia mission on the border in El Paso, Texas, and Juárez, Mexico. While living in Juárez, she taught religion classes, set up the across the border food sharing program, and once again answered the needs of the people in many different ways.

Since last summer, Sister Carol Jean has been living at Sacred Heart in Milwaukee, and is joyfully anticipating her Jubilee Day. Congratulations, Sister Carol Jean, and happy 70th anniversary!