In Kankakee, Illinois, on June 23, 1926, a baby girl was born to Harvey and Lillie Du Buque. She was named Anna Mae and baptized at St. Rose of Lima Church. Anna Mae joined her older brother Donald and in a few years they had a little sister, Lucille. Anna Mae loved her little sister very much.
The children attended St. Rose of Lima Grade School. Family life was built on strong faith and it carried them through good times and hard times. Anna Mae’s father died at age 38 when Anna Mae was about 7 years old. Her mother was a strong woman and she was able to keep the family together. One year later, her baby sister, Lucille, died at age two. This was very hard for Anna Mae to comprehend. Her mother was the source of strength for Anna Mae and her brother Donald.
During the following years, Anna Mae developed a strong sense of responsibility and her outgoing personality provided many exciting and delightful high school memories.
After high school, Anna Mae went to work at Woolworth’s. She liked dealing with people and her supervisor recognized her talent. After six months, she was being trained to be a manager. Anna Mae was happy about that, but she knew she didn’t want to be at Woolworth’s doing that for the rest of her life. She wanted to do more with her life.
She said that our School Sisters of St. Francis community “popped into her head.” School Sisters were already part of her life because her aunt – her mother’s sister, Sister Maurina Matt – was a nurse and ministered at St. Mary’s Hill Hospital. Anna Mae didn’t want to be a nurse, but as soon as she found out that you didn’t have to be a nurse, she knew joining the School Sisters of St. Francis was her answer.
In fall of 1946, at age 20, Anna Mae entered St. Joseph Convent in Milwaukee. This free spirit had adjustments to make because she was an “older” postulant, but she survived! On June 13, 1947, she was received into the community and given the name Sister Carmelyn. She loved her religious name.
During the novitiate, she was being trained to be a homemaker and for a year she helped at St. Mark’s in Kenosha. After Profession in 1949, she was sent to Madonna High School in Aurora, Illinois. For the next seven years all her talents blossomed. She helped out when a homemaker was sick, she helped with stage work for the school plays, she refinished student desks, and also helped in the principal’s office. Among other things, the sisters made rosaries for all the graduates and Sister Carmelyn was an expert at that. She said of herself, “My years at Madonna High School were wonderful. We worked hard. but we were all happy.”
In 1956 Sister Carmelyn was transferred to Alverno College and became personnel director of non-academic employees for 25 years. She liked working with people and she met and retained many dedicated employees. This position also included assisting the resident hall sister supervisor. Sister Carmelyn waited up on weekends checking the girls in by 1:00 a.m. curfew. During this time she made many friends.
Changes in religious life came after the Second Vatican Council and she especially liked that she could see her family more often and that she could drive. During these years Sister Carmelyn continued to live in the group of sisters on the fourth floor of Corona Hall.
In 1979 she was asked to be purchasing inventory coordinator, another job she did so well as she related to all the employees. One job well done turns into another and in 1992 she became director of purchasing until she retired in 2006.
Sister Carmelyn found time to stay close to her niece Renee, nephew Michael, and their families. She liked to travel and her visits to the National Parks were special. Upon retiring in 2006, she moved to Clement Manor, making that her home for 14 years. She served as a driver, helped where needed, and made many friends.
During her last years at Clement Manor, she began to experience vision loss due to macular degeneration. Her friends from Alverno, especially Joan Schumacher, would call her every day and take her out at times because she relished having treats from McDonald’s. Arthritis in her neck worsened along with her vision and she moved to Sacred Heart in 2020.
Sacred Heart was her new home and she was so grateful to be with her sisters and such a caring staff. Her vision continued to deteriorate, and she was grateful for all the assistance she received. She could go to Chapel, go to meals, and attend activities. During this time, one of her greatest joys was to celebrate her 75th Jubilee in 2022. Sister Carmelyn said, “I have experienced great joy in my 75 years of religious life by using my gifts and talents to minister to God’s people wherever I was sent.”
Sister Carmelyn, thank you for your 75 years of faithful and joyful Franciscan living.