Sister Sheila Carroll

May 10, 1928 – October 25, 2021

Sister Sheila Carroll OSB, 93, a Benedictine sister of Mount St. Scholastica, Atchison, Kansas, died Monday, October 25, 2021, at the monastery. The Mass of Resurrection was held on November 17, in St. Scholastica Chapel at the monastery.

Sister Sheila Carroll was born in Axtell, Kansas, on May 10, 1928, the daughter of Lenore and Joseph Carroll. After high school graduation, she taught several years before entering the Sisters of St. Francis in Denver, Colorado., where  she professed her lifetime vows in 1960. She earned her M.A. in Applied Spirituality from San Francisco University, M.A. in Women’s Studies from Graduate Union in Cincinnati, a Doctor of Ministry from the University of Dubuque, and a Ph.D. in Pastoral Psychology from Graduate Theological Foundation in South Bend, Indiana.

After serving as teacher and administrator of Marycrest High School in Denver, and St. Agnes  Academy in Alliance, Nebraska, Sister Sheila became principal at Red Cloud Indian High School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Later, she was a campus minister at the University of Missouri and Oklahoma State University. She also served on the Franciscan leadership team and as vocation director.  After a sabbatical at Mount St. Scholastica, she began directing retreats at Sophia Spirituality Center there and, after a long discernment, transferred her vows in 2009. She continued offering retreats and doing spiritual direction at Sophia Center until shortly before her death.

Sister Sheila was preceded in death by her parents, her sisters, Mary, Evelyne, and Rosanna, and brothers, Charles, John, Leo, and Gerald. She is survived by her brother, James (Teresa) Carroll of McFarland, Kan., sister-in-law Jane Carroll (widow of Gerald), nieces and nephews, and her monastic family. Arensberg-Pruett Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Memorials may be sent to Mount St. Scholastica or made online at the Mount’s web site.

Watch the vigil, held November 16, 2021.

Watch the Mass of Resurrection, held November 17, 2021.

Reflection at the Vigil for Sister Sheila Carroll

Sister Michaela Randolph | November 16, 2021

I am happy to have this opportunity to share a reflection for our friend and sister in community, Sr. Sheila Carroll.  In the name of the Community of Mount St. Scholastica, we offer our hospitality, our gratitude, our love, our sympathy and prayers to all of you. We remember Sr. Sheila’s family, her brother, James and his spouse Teresa, her sister-in-law, Jane, the widow of her brother Gerald, her nieces and nephews, cousins, our Sr. Gabrielle, her directees, retreatants,  Souljourners and her many friends. She loved and appreciated all of you.

We are also very grateful to the Franciscan Sisters of Denver Colorado where Sr. Sheila celebrated 50 years of faithfully following St. Francis and St. Clare.     

Sheila grew up in St. Bridget’s, a small village near Axtell, Kansas, later moving to Lillis, Ks.  She was born into a strong Irish, Catholic family one of 8 siblings.   Her parents instilled in them the importance of education and a caring support of one another.

As was noted on her memorial card, Sr. Sheila had a long winding pathway in her long life.  And she needed a long life to accomplish all that she did. From her earliest days, when she endured the death of her mother and then took care of her younger brothers, she was animated by a strong desire to learn, explore, examine, and pursue life and all it held for her. There was nothing static or stoic about Sr. Sheila.

In the first reading this evening, Isaiah says,

“Do not fear, I have called you by name, you are mine. You are precious and I love you.”

How beautiful is that Scripture and Sheila, believing it, never shied away from pursuing her call.

Her many ministries included teaching, work with Native Americans, A school Principal at Mary Crest High School in Denver, CO and also at Alliance, NE, She did Campus Ministry, Parish Ministry, Retreat Ministry and Spiritual Direction.  One of her most treasured ministries was that of being a Spiritual Director.  And her directees loved her, often asking for her to direct them.  Her last ministry in Tulsa, OK found her living with our Sr. Gabrielle. After several years there, Sheila felt called to take some time to reflect on her life and she asked to come to Mount St. Scholastica Monastery as a volunteer.  Here, Sheila participated in the Ora et labora of the monastic life.  She delighted in the singing the Liturgy of the Hours and began to feel called to this way of life.

As Sheila listened to the call and prayed about her call to Monastic life, we can hear God saying…

I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Yes, God would make a new way for Sheila. A way in what might have felt at times like a wilderness.

As I reflected on her call to our monastery, I became more aware of the strength she needed to pack herself up after 50 years of being a faithful follower of Francis and to start life here at the Mount as a Monastic. What would it take to pack up one’s life and move it all into the unknown?  I believe her thirst to know Jesus made it possible and in many ways the unknown became known.

Paul continues to encourage all of us in the reading from Philippians.

“Do not worry about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made know to God. And the peace of God will guard you in Christ Jesus.”

What comfort and strength Sheila must have heard in those words!

Over the years, Sheila shared her many experiences of making retreats at the Jesuit Retreat Center in Sedalia Colorado.  Along with her love of Francis, she also became very fond of the Jesuits.  In her search for wholeness, she was able to bring together three major spiritualties, Franciscans, Benedictines and Jesuits and use them well both in her own life of prayer and also with her directees.

A story about Sheila.  The evening she was publicly making her vows to Mount St. Scholastica, she accidentally called on her Holy Father Francis, instead of her Holy Father Benedict.  I am sure they both had a chuckle about that.  I know that we all did!

Sheila felt impelled to know the Lord.  She wanted to see Jesus.   She wanted Jesus to talk to her.  She wanted him to walk with her.  She read, she journaled a lot, she prayed. It was her great desire.   

It was Sheila who, along with Sr. Gabrielle, offered many of the retreats on the Mystics over at Sophia.  St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, Therese the Little Flower and Thomas Merton.  Three days before she died, she participated with Sr. Gabrielle, in one of their regular zoom sessions doing “Lectio with Merton.”  I am sure that Sheila is very pleased that her vigil tonight is on the Feast Day of St. Gertrude.  She loved the mystics and desired to know and experience the Lord Jesus, as they did.

Sheila now knows Jesus first hand.  She has been given a room in God’s mansion. And she now knows Jesus to be her way, her truth and her life! We have all been enriched by her presence as she took her place among us and offered the gift of herself to all of us.

Thank you, Sheila, for being part of our lives.  You have come full circle, beginning at the Benedictine parish of St. Bridget’s, becoming a Benedictine Oblate as a young woman and vowing your life to the Franciscans and then living and dying here among us, as a vowed Benedictine. You are now embraced in Love. It’s what you always wanted!  !   It is what God has always wanted for you!

From the Invitatory at Morning Prayer, we heard Christ say to Sheila and to us!

“I will espouse you in my Holy Spirit; I will draw you close in inseparable union with me. You will be my guest, and I will enclose you in my lively cherishing love; I will make you a robe of noble purple of my precious blood; I will crown you with the choice gold of my bitter death.  I will fill up your desire with myself and thus I will bring gladness to you forever.”

Thank you. Sheila, for never being satisfied, for never abandoning your search for God. Your faithfulness and perseverance enhances our lives and gives us to courage to keep searching. Amen.