Sister Ann Carolyn Blackburn, SNDdeN (formerly Ann Caroline)

Sister Ann Carolyn Blackburn, SNDdeN (formerly Ann Caroline)

May 30, 1927 – April 10, 2017

“Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16)

Born Lorraine Dorothy Blackburn, Sister Ann Carolyn was proud to be 100% Irish and from Chicago. The oldest of three girls, she grew up in St. Peter Canisius Parish where she met the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Ann Carolyn first thought about being a Sister “in the first grade…. My mother told me I would change my mind…. When I was in high school, I felt the Lord was calling me to religious life. One of my teachers directed me to the Notre Dame candidacy, which prepared me to be a postulant. The Sister in charge gave us a very spiritual outlook on life, especially her love of St. Julie. She had a great devotion to the Holy Spirit, and so do I.” By the end of two years at the candidacy Ann Carolyn had finished her secondary school and entered the postulancy at Mount Notre Dame in Reading, Ohio.

Sister Ann Carolyn would spend her whole life working with little children in a variety of settings. It didn’t matter if she was working with classes of 50 or tutoring just one child, Ann Carolyn enjoyed being with the children, teaching them about God and nurturing each according to their individual needs. Those who needed extra attention touched her heart in a special way and challenged her creativity as a teacher – a challenge that continually energized her. Sister’s lessons were quiet, nurturing and designed to give the children the liberty to discover and gain confidence in their gifts. Their progress gave Ann Carolyn great joy.

In the summer of 1965 she was sent to Detroit to be part of a pilot Head Start Program. The succeeding summers Ann Carolyn trained in Montessori in Chicago, and did her Montessori practice teaching in inner-city Cincinnati. That fall she was assigned to the new Head Start Program in Hamilton where her creativity came in handy as she found few funds designated to purchase teaching materials. In 1968 Ann Carolyn went to Michigan State University for an eight week workshop on Leadership Training for Montessori teachers. She was accepted as a graduate assistant at MSU in 1970 and earned her Masters while teaching paraprofessionals assigned to Head Start Programs in Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. When she finished her studies Ann Carolyn was missioned to St. Peter Canisius Parish School where she applied Montessori principles in her first grade classroom for eleven years. After 36 years of full-time teaching, Sister “retired” to work in the Notre Dame Reading Center in Columbus, where she tutored individual children who needed extra help. She also started working with the Foster Grandparent Program which placed her in local schools to work with students individually.

Ann Carolyn moved to Cincinnati in 1991 and continued with the Foster Grandparent Program at Corryville Catholic where she spent 20 hours each week using her creativity and positive attitude to help children blossom. In 1996 the Foster Grandparent Program assigned her to Children’s Hospital where she became an invaluable support to the hospital school program. Sister learned to use the hospital census so that each day she could canvas patient units to find students in need of help. She regularly worked with young children in the pediatric rehabilitation program and hematology/oncology unit. Perhaps most importantly Ann Carolyn brought a ready smile, humor and genuine care to each child with whom she worked. Sister worked with the Foster Grandparent Program for over 20 years. She was recognized for her service through her induction into the Senior Citizen Hall of Fame in 1998 and her reception of the President’s Call to Service Award in 2005. Her skills where transferred to adults when she and four other Sisters moved to a near-by assisted living facility while the Health Center was being built at Mount Notre Dame. Ann Carolyn was delighted to find a Montessori program that welcomed her help operating in the same building. She also volunteered among the residents by leading the weekly rosary and spending one-on-one time interviewing them about their lives. Ann Carolyn used the interviews to write articles for the monthly newsletter the facility published.

Evaluations through the years described Sister Ann Carolyn as warm, pleasant, collaborative, cooperative, open, dependable, adaptable, studious, and open to learning. She attributed her long teaching career to “the grace of God and my love of St. Julie… I've always felt St. Julie helped me with my teaching. In my master's thesis, I compared her teaching method with the Montessori Method, and my conclusion was that she used all the principles of the Montessori Method.” Her love for Julie started when she was in school, grew during the candidacy where she “learned and imbibed the Notre Dame Charism as I watched the Sisters… living with them, and praying with them.” Ann Carolyn tried to mirror St. Julie's simplicity in her own spirituality, in her ministry and certainly in her relationships with her Sisters in community. It was a great joy for her when she was chosen to participate in the very first Julie Conference in Namur. Receiving her own copy of St. Julie’s Letters and other Institute books enriched her life. She wrote that she read from St. Julie’s writings every day because they nourished her spirit and deepened her “sense of being at home with the Lord and in community.”

Sister once wrote, “My Dad was the greatest example of the Fatherhood of God. Dad showed us the Father's humor.” Ann Carolyn inherited a good bit of her father’s personality. Her Sisters appreciated her infectious humor. They described her as uninhibited, full of fun, a great storyteller, happy, open, dependable, adaptable and always willing to help others. She liked every kind of community discussion, doing crafts, reading a good book, swimming when she had the opportunity and visiting with people: Sisters, family, friends – Ann Carolyn simply loved being around people.

Ann Carolyn also loved to travel. It didn’t matter if it was on her own to Elder Hostels, with Sisters to Belgium, France, Rome or to SND educational meetings in the United States, with classmates to Niagara Falls, with her family to Alaska or with her brother-in-law to Ireland – each was a treasured memory. She stayed connected to family and friends through visits, notes, cards and phone calls. Her family held a special place in her heart – cousins as well as siblings, and nieces and nephews of all generations. Sister was grateful for the special memories of taking care of one nephew for six months, and was delighted as he referred to her forever after as “his” Sister Ann. Ann Carolyn couldn’t communicate much during visits with her nieces and nephews the last few days of her life, but we know what a joy it was for her to have them by her side.

Sister Ann Carolyn wrote, “The grace of God and my love of St. Julie have strengthened me all these years. I say each day with St. Julie, ‘How good is the good God!’” Her Sisters, family and friends give thanks for her full life and all she taught us about how good God is!

Bio Data
Born May 30, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois
Parents: George Phelen Blackburn (born in Dixon, Illinois) and Caroline Sheehan (born in Chicago, Illinois)
Siblings: Patricia Elizabeth and Mary Catherine

Baptized June 19, 1927 at St. Angela Church, Chicago, Illinois
Confirmed October, 1937 at St. Peter Canisius Church, Chicago, Illinois

Entered August 14, 1945 at Mt. Notre Dame
First Profession: August 13, 1948
Final Profession: August 13, 1953

Bachelor of Science in Education from Our Lady of Cincinnati College, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1962
Master of Arts in Education: Early Childhood from Michigan State, East Lansing, Michigan 1972

Assignments Included:
1948-1957 Summit Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1957-1963 St. Peter Canisius School, Chicago, Illinois
1963-1965 St. Peter School, South Beloit, Illinois
1965-1967 St. John School, Villa Park, Illinois
1967-1972 Head Start, Hamilton, Ohio
1972-1983 St. Peter Canisius School, Chicago, Illinois
1983-1991 Notre Dame Reading Center, Columbus, Ohio
1987-1991 Livingston Elementary School, Columbus, Ohio
1991-1996 Corryville Catholic School, Cincinnati, Ohio
1996-2000 Children's Hospital, Cincinnati, Ohio
2000 –2002 Amber Park Montessori Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
2002-2008 Montessori Center for Life Long Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio
2008-2011 Community Service, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio
2012- 2017 Ministry of Prayer, Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Died April 10, 2017 at Mount Notre Dame Health Center, Reading, Ohio

Sr. Kim Dalgarn SNDdeN
April 11, 2017