Sister Charlotte Smith, MM

Born: July 17, 1925
Entered: September 7, 1943
Died: May 24, 2012

“I feel like singing today, Lord.  I feel like telling everyone how great You are.  If only they could know the depths of your love and Your eternal concern for those who will follow you.”

As we gather today we recall these words of our sister, Sister Charlotte Marie Smith, who very quietly and very quickly passed on to her New Life with God on May 24, 2012, in Residential Care IV, Maryknoll, New York.

Charlotte was born on July 17, 1925, in Woodhaven, NY to Frederick William and Mary Agnes (Corrigan) Smith.  She had one brother and one sister. Charlotte graduated from Dominican Commercial High School in Jamaica, Queens, NY in 1943.  Her home parish was St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in the Diocese of Brooklyn, NY.

That same year, on September 7, 1943, Charlotte entered Maryknoll at the Motherhouse.  At her Reception on March 7, 1944, she received the religious name of Sister Rose Immaculata.  It was at the Motherhouse that Charlotte made her First Profession on March 7, 1946.

In 1947 Charlotte was assigned to our hospital in Monrovia and in 1948 to San Juan Bautista for catechetical work.  While in California, she made her Final Profession on March 7, 1949.

From 1950 – 1967, Charlotte was missioned  to the Bolivia/Peru Region. Her talents were many so that after  studying Spanish in Cochabamba, Charlotte was able to fill different roles as teacher, principal, and catechist in Cobija and Guayaramerin.  Charlotte returned to Maryknoll, NY in 1959 where she earned her B.E. at Maryknoll Teacher College.  Then, in 1962 she returned to Riberalta, Bolivia where she became the principal of a primary school until 1967.

During her stay in Bolivia she was instrumental in preparing lay leaders to take over the operation of the school.  She was also responsible for getting the Minister of Education to accept the degrees of any Maryknoll Sister working in Bolivia.

Most of us who knew Charlotte were aware of her longing for the Contemplative life. Reflecting on her time in Monrovia and remembering Mother Mary Joseph, Charlotte  wrote:  “The big event in my life was taking care of Mother Mary Joseph every Saturday.  Mother always sat with me in her room in the morning and I told her I was thinking of the Cloister.  She was very positive about it and told me to keep it in mind for ‘some day.’”  That “some day” began with her entering our Maryknoll Cloister in 1967. Her Final Enclosure was on October 3, 1969, when she received the addition to her name, which became Sister Rose Immaculata of the Heart of Jesus.

While a member of the Cloister, she obtained a MA in Culture and Creation Spirituality from Holy Names College in Oakland, CA, graduating in May 1985. She wrote: “Creation Spirituality is a justice spirituality. It is a tradition in touch with ecumenism, ecological consciousness, and the experience of the oppressed which demands social change.”

In July of 1985, after a long communal discernment, Charlotte left the Cloister and joined the Eastern U.S. Region.  For ten years, she worked at Maryknoll Society as Secretary to the Director of Brother’s Formation and the Coordinator of the Brothers’ Coordinating Team.  Charlotte wrote: “The Sem. was a familiar place of my childhood  – a very ‘at home’ place for me to work now.  I am not only a Secretary to the Brothers but a member of their team – my work is ministry.”  After she retired, Charlotte was active in the senior apartment complex in which she lived.

In 2009, Charlotte returned to the Center where she joined the Chi Rho community.  Her Prayer Ministry was the Chi Rho Community. It was in 2011 that Charlotte joined the Eden Community.

Charlotte was a true artist. Her creative gifts were generously shared – her beautiful calligraphy on plaques and cards and candles.

So, with Charlotte, let us all “feel like singing today, Lord” and rejoice in her New Life with God.

Although Sister Charlotte’s family members are unable to be with us, we are happy to have some of her friends join us today.  We welcome her very good friend, Fr. John Moran, MM who will be celebrating the Liturgy of Christian Burial.