Sister Marie Lorraine Carney, MM

Born: February 21, 1925
Entered: September 6, 1947
Died: January 6, 2006

Sister Marie Lorraine Carney once said she resonated with the following quote by an unknown author: “Perseverance is not a long race, it is many short races, one after another.”

And so it was that on January 6, 2006, at 5 pm on the 94th Anniversary of our Founding, Sister Marie Lorraine finished her many short races and in Residential Care IV peacefully passed into Eternal Life. Our Sisters had accompanied her in prayer throughout the day. I am sure Mother Mary Joseph was there to greet her with open arms and probably said: “Come, my faithful daughter, and rejoice with me in this New Life. The God you served so faithfully.” Marie Lorraine was 80 years of age and had been a Maryknoll Sister for 58 years.

Josephine Lorraine Carney was born on February 21, 1925 in Hartford, Connecticut. She was the daughter of Josephine Makula Carney and Joseph Carney. She was the oldest of three children, Robert, who died in 1987, and Thomas her younger brother. Josephine Lorraine attended St. Peter’s Grammar School in Hartford, Connecticut and in 1942 graduated from Bulkeley High School, also in Hartford. After high school she attended the University of Connecticut Extension Program and obtained a certificate in Drafting and Blueprint Reading.

While discerning her vocation and prior to joining Maryknoll, Josephine Lorraine held a number of employment positions. In 1942 she was employed by the Connecticut General Life Insurance Co.; in 1943 she held a secretarial position in the Department of the U.S. Navy (CIS) for two years; then as Service Representative of the Southern New England Telephone Co. for six months; and ultimately Circulation Manager for the Catholic Transcript in the Hartford Archdiocese for a year.

On September 6, 1947, Josephine Lorraine entered Maryknoll. At Reception she received the name, Sister Marie Lorraine and made her First Profession of Vows on March 7, 1950 and Final Profession of Vows on March 7, 1953, both at Maryknoll, NY. During those years, she also attended Maryknoll Teachers College and graduated with a Bachelor degree in Education in 1953.

Sister Marie Lorraine was a woman of diverse talents and gifts, which she shared generously throughout her life. Most of her ministry years were in education. In 1953 she was assigned to the Philippines where she first worked in Manila, as a primary school teacher for seven years. In 1960, she went to Malabon to St. James Academy where she taught in high school, and in 1964 she was named Directress of both the elementary and high schools. She also worked in the Parish Center, as an Advisory Board Member, a Vicariate Steering Committee member and Coordinator of Parochial Schools. In 1970, she served on the Municipal Board in Malabon, where she had the opportunity to put much effort into bettering the conditions of the poor. Marie Lorraine worked towards getting a high school in the Tanong area, where hundreds of teenagers were unable to get a secondary education. She also ministered to the poor in the community and helped to organize a Parish Center where men and women without skills were taught dressmaking, tailoring and secretarial skills. At that time she said, “I feel my role is one of support, bringing hope, joy and encouragement where and when it is most needed.” From the town of Malabon, in 1972, she went to Quezon City outside of Manila and served in the Maryknoll Sisters High School, teaching Religion and serving on the Administrative Team until 1974.

In 1974, she was asked to give Congregational Service here at Maryknoll as the Center Administrator. Sister Betty Ann Maheu at the time wrote: “I have confidence in your efficiency and ability to cope with the different situations that arise here at the Center, with your smile and a song.” In 1976, her teaching talents had her assigned to St.Theresa School in the Chinatown area of Chicago where she served as Principal until 1978, when she returned again to Maryknoll and served in the Treasury and Data Processing Departments until 1981.

From 1981 to 1985, Marie Lorraine was assigned to Gallup, NM, as a Parish Worker serving the Navajo people in Adult Education and teaching Basic English at the University of New Mexico. During these years she also studied watercolor painting and computer programming. Later she served as a trainer in Child Development at the Arizona State University. In 1984 she wrote: “I have been attracted to work among our American Indians for a long time. As a Maryknoller who has had such beautiful experiences with the people of the Philippines, I feel it a great privilege to share this with the Navajo people with whom I live and work We can learn so much from the Native Americans whose basic philosophy is Harmony, harmony with the Great Spirit, with People and with Nature. It has been a lot of learning and a real deepening of my faith commitment.” Marie Lorraine’s love of education found her, in 1985, teaching grade school at St. Joseph’s School, Terryville, CT, and then later working as a bookkeeper at St. Paul’s High School in Bristol, CT.

In 1990, she returned to the Center for Congregational Service and worked in the Treasury Department as a Bookkeeper/Clerk, after which she returned to Gallup, New Mexico as a volunteer teacher.

During the years 1994-2001, Marie Lorraine again served in the Development Department in the Mission Awareness Program. She loved challenges and was very creative in initiating something new, such as the proposal to go to Florida for Mission Awareness in 1996. She wanted this to be an experiment for one year but it continued for four years. She visited bishops, parishes and schools, raising funds and making God’s love visible. She also taught in a Haitian school and gave English classes to many individual people. Her rationale for going to Florida was that: “There were many retired people, some of whom had no children or heirs. Making us known to these people could work well for both groups. Working in the schools might help with our vocations.” In 2001, she served for a time at St. Louis Parish in West Haven, CT, until she returned to Maryknoll and retired in 2003. She worked in the Treasury Department as a Volunteer Office Assistant. During the summer of 2004, Sister offered to cook at Watch Hill our vacation house. She enjoyed creating new recipes, which she had learned from her sister-in-law Marilyn. We vacationers were the happy recipients of delicious meals. Marie Lorraine enjoyed walking to the town of Watch Hill and would come back and share with us news of the people she met and the flowers people had in their gardens. She saw deeply the beauty in nature and in people.

At the end of the summer she was not feeling well and returned to the Center. Her outlook on her illness was characterized by deep acceptance of each moment and gratitude to the nursing and housekeeping staff. Her compassionate visits with other ill Sisters on Residential Care IV were deeply appreciated.

Marie Lorraine was very close to her family, especially her brother Thomas and sister-in-law Marilyn. It was a great disappointment for her when she could not go to Florida for Thanksgiving because she was too weak to travel.

In 2000, The Catholic Press Association gave First Place to Revista Maryknoll, Maryknoll Spanish language magazine, for Best Personality Profile on “Hermana Marie Lorraine Carney, M.M. Compartiendo Amor” (Sharing Love).

Marie Lorraine’s life was one of sharing deeply the love of Jesus and a compassionate giving of herself in a cheerful and generous way. Today’s Communion Song is from Matthew: 25: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people that you do unto me, now enter into your Eternal Home.” What Marie Lorraine knew in Faith, she now experiences in her New Life. Let us rejoice with her.

We offer our gratitude to the Residential Care Staff, for their gentle care and compassionate love given to Sister Marie Lorraine during her illness. We welcome our Maryknoll Father Thomas Pesaresi, M.M. who will celebrate the Liturgy of Christian Burial.