Sister Carolyn AmRhein, SNDdeN (formerly St. Clare)

Sister Carolyn AmRhein, SNDdeN (formerly St. Clare)

April 13, 1925 — May 2, 2013


Carolyn Therese AmRhein began her earthly sojourn on April 13, 1925, in Peoria, Illinois. She was the daughter of Andrew and Clara (Hessling) AmRhein. Carolyn was the second child in a family of five. When the family was completed, she had three brothers: Bob, Richard, James; and one sister, Rosemary. A lively group!

On August 26, Carolyn began her life in Christ when she was baptized at Saint Mark Church. At that same Church in Peoria, in later years, she would receive the strengthening sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confirmation. When the family moved to Chicago, Carolyn was enrolled in St. Peter Canisius School to complete her elementary education. Carolyn’s life in her early years was surrounded by the strong faith of her parents and a history of family involvement in Church related activities. A major turning point in Carolyn’s life came in the seventh grade when her teacher asked her help for a special project. This request opened a whole new spectrum to her. She had talents that were valued by adults! This insight also led her to consider the possibility of becoming a Sister! What life changing power came through a seemingly simple request.

When Carolyn was a sophomore at Notre Dame High School, Chicago, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur announced the opening of a candidacy program for high school students. She was captivated by this announcement! In her junior year, 1941, she was accepted into this program at the Summit in Cincinnati. The next year, Carolyn’s senior year, the program was moved to Columbus, Ohio. Of course, she followed it. In January 1943 she applied for, and was accepted, into the Postulate of the Sisters of Notre Dame in Reading, Ohio. The rest is history! Later at the time of her 60th anniversary as a Sister of Notre Dame she stated firmly, “I never looked back!”

What a life to remember! In August of 1943 Carolyn received the habit of Notre Dame and the religious name Sister St. Clare (She was known by that name until 1968 when the Sisters were given the option to return to the use of their Baptismal name.) In August 1945, she pronounced her first vows. On August 13, 1950, she finalized her commitment by pronouncing her perpetual vows.

For 44 years Sister Carolyn was involved with direct ministry in the educational life of students. She was prepared for this work by achieving a Bachelor of Science in Education from St. Mary of the Springs College in Columbus, Ohio, in 1962. This was followed by a degree of Master of Reading Specialist from Cardinal Stritch College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1965 Sister Carolyn began her teaching career at St. Joseph Academy, Columbus, Ohio, where she taught grade four from 1945 to 1951. Then she moved to Chicago to teach grades 1-2, 2-3 and 3-4 at St. Peter Canisius during the years 1951 to 1962. From there, she went to the Child Guidance Center in Columbus, Ohio. There she perfected her skills as a Reading Specialist during the years 1962-1967. The following year, 1967-1968, she returned to a traditional school situation at St. Christopher School teaching eighth graders. There, too, she continued to use her Reading Specialist background to aid her students to perfect their reading abilities.

Following these years of shifting assignments, Sister Carolyn settled into a concentration to work with students to improve their reading ability. If they were already doing well, she helped them to refine specific skills; if they were struggling she could demonstrate techniques to help to them to surmount their difficulties. In 1968-1969 she was the reading tutor at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School in Reading, Ohio. From 1969 to 1982 Sister Carolyn worked with the ESEA Title 1 in the following Cincinnati schools: Cutter Junior High 1969-1973; St. Francis Seraph and Saint Rose Schools 1973-1975; St. Francis Seraph 1975-1982. The next two years, 1983-1985 she worked with the ECIS Reading Program at St. Francis Seraph and St. Joseph Schools. Her later years in the classroom were at Hyde Park Elementary School, also in Cincinnati, from 1985 to 1990 where she again included emphasis on developing reading skills.

Taking a break from teaching was a good breathing space for Sister Carolyn. At Mount Notre Dame, she contributed a year of community service where she provided what was needed, at the time it was needed. After that year she was back in education. Sister Carolyn spent the next year, 1992-1993, working with the Alliance for Educational Development to produce programs and student materials to support the educational process. The year 1993-1994 was devoted to responding to requests from the Notre Dame Generalate and to developing and mailing Montessori publications and materials.

The final activity of her ministry involvement was undertaking the management of the Province tape library. This position was her focus for the next 18 years, 1995-2013. During this time the holdings of the tape library expanded substantially. Now there is a wide collection of tapes available to the sisters for professional and recreational use.

Aside from her assignments, Sister Carolyn enjoyed a variety of activities for relaxation. She was an active participant in the Adopt-a-Sister Program of Mt. Notre Dame High School. This activity provides MND students with the opportunity to meet monthly with a Sister on a plan of the students’ choice. Sister’s groups usually stayed with her for their three years of membership. Another interest for Sister was genealogy. She did a great deal of research for her family and together they gathered a quite a bit of information about their ancestors.

Sister Carolyn had a great sense of order. This was present in many details of her final time of life. Her Adopt-a-Sister girls of this year were seniors, so they are on to graduation. No traumatic break here! Sister Carolyn had begun to experience some weakening of her physical strength, so she requested to hand over the tape library to a successor. This was accomplished! 2013 is her year of Jubilee, 70 years in Religious Life. What a great way to celebrate by responding to the loving Lord’s invitation in the liturgy of the day on which she entered Eternal Life:  “Remain in My Love. . .”

Sister Alma Grollig, SNDdeN
May 2, 2013