Sister Carol Bartol (Mary of the Visitation)

Written on: September 19, 2022

Reflection for Sister Carol Bartol- October 1, 2022
Given by Sister Barbara Harrington

Blest as a Grey Nun and as Carol Bartol’s best friend over many years, I am eager to share this reflection on Carol’s life and ministry.

First, I want to acknowledge Carol’s family and friends who are here from nearby and from as far away as Seattle, North Carolina and Atlanta. Carol’s sisters Dorothy, Gen, and Margie, Margie’s husband Jack…(Carol’s sister in Arizona, Alice, was unable to come). Here too is Carol’s extended family: Chris and Johanna, her nieces, Kathleen, Monica, Rose and Patricia…nephews, Tom, John and Jim. Also special friends Jim and Fina and of course, our Grey Nuns, Grey Nun Associates and Carol’s caregivers at Lafayette. Everyone here. We all have come to celebrate Sister Carol Bartol’s adventurous life.

Carol was the 7th among her 10 siblings.  Margie is the youngest, who told me Carol never tired of reminding her about how she always had to take Margie in a carriage to the not- so- near park in Hazelton. Carol loved her large family; even those deceased were often mentioned with affection. Carol and her siblings always stayed in touch with one another and Carol loved to talk on the phone with all of them (at length!), as her surviving sisters Dorothy and Alice, Gen and Margie know so well. When Carol died, I am sure she was divinely embraced and then immediately found the way to her deceased siblings: Teddy, Tommy, Barbara, Eleanore and Cathy.

When Carol was a teenager her family moved from Hazelton to the “Great Northeast” in Philadelphia. She learned of the Grey Nuns through Sisters Dolores Beatty and Mary Karen Kelly who then introduced Carol to Sister Mary Jane Callahan. Sister Mary Jane was a zealous lover of our Blessed Mother and a very effective recruiter of many young women for religious life.

At that time, Carol was delighted to know that the Grey Nuns ran an orphanage, because she felt called to work in such a ministry. It was a disappointment when her novitiate coincided with the forced closure of orphanages; yet Carol persevered.

In her novitiate, Carol’s sewing ability was a blessing to novices who needed help with making their habits. Later, when we left habits aside, Carol fashioned many outfits for others from habit and cloak materials. Carol was once again sewing for others after returning to the motherhouse from Alaska.

In her first ministry assignments, Carol was a kindergarten teacher at Holy Angels school in Buffalo; then, a primary grade teacher in Eden, a rural community outside of Buffalo, and finally she taught at Melrose, where Carol was noted for her then unique individualized and group-style teaching. Chestnut Hill College sent their education students to observe Carol’s work with the children. It was while Carol was teaching at Melrose in the early 70’s that Carol and I first became friends.

When Carol ventured to Atlanta in 1973, she was quickly hired to teach special needs children in a residential care setting, sponsored by the Atlanta Sisters of St. Joseph. I remember one of Carol’s students truly thought he was ‘superboy’. After a year or so, the St. Joseph Sisters, who had spearheaded the opening of the first Catholic elder care home in Atlanta, asked Carol to become its manager. Despite her initial trepidation, Carol ran the home and its staff effectively and she loved the residents. She listened to the tales of their lives and admired them for the dignity they maintained in their fragility. I heard many funny tales of their eccentricities, too.

The next adventure of Carol’s ministry in Atlanta began when she took on a medical- supply recycling project at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta. The project, advocated for strongly by the nursing staff, was sponsored by the hospital’s mission effectiveness department led by our Sister Jo Patti, who realized Carol’s abilities. Carol had joined the planning committee, and then was hired to coordinate the project. Carol’s organizing talent was put to good use, categorizing and recycling both very small and very, very big items (like a dialysis lab or a mammography unit). Needed supplies were packed and sent with doctors or nurses to missions on several continents and to needy clinics in the states. When there were odd single objects, like a motorized chair, she would think of just the right place that might need one. It was a model recycling project that morphed into a multi-hospital effort that Carol supported and handed on to a colleague to carry forward.

After arriving In Kodiak, Alaska, Carol offered English as a Second Language to immigrants. She also carried out training and social events for St. Mary’s young altar servers. After a year, Carol was asked to take over the parish thrift shop. Once again, vision and organizational skills prevailed. Of course, she noticed that its roof was in bad shape. She managed to have it replaced by an insurer. Later, Carol sought and obtained monies to replace its old windows and finally, she conceived a way to expand the shop with a sizable addition. Meanwhile, income doubled and quadrupled, providing new financial support for the parish school…and the shop’s many volunteers loved her way of managing.

When our mission in Kodiak was closed, Carol and I drove and ferried back to our Motherhouse in Yardley, intending to become helpers there. Never was Carol so much of a help as during the move to Lafayette, when she bought and distributed household items for all who moved. It was exacting work but she was determined and enjoyed working with Bob Creely and Sister Dawn Gear.

Only after the end of this last ministerial effort did Carol’s dementia manifest itself. She had to move to independent living at Lafayette but the joys and satisfactions of the past were dimmed and Carol struggled to hold on, or as she would regularly repeat to me, “I’m trying”.

A great reprieve during Carol’s years of dementia were her several long stays in rural North Carolina with her sister Gen and good friend, Chris Judge. Carol felt secure and peaceful there. This past July, Carol moved to personal care. That her new apartment had a porch with a beautiful view was a small pleasure as she learned to use it. I would like to underline the gentle attention and service afforded Carol by our sisters and our staff who helped her in specific ways. Leadership has made this kind of care available to all of us. It is something special and I want to recognize and applaud it.

Carol was the kind of friend I could always rely on. For others, she had a quiet way of noticing what was needed and was generous with her time. She liked to sew or cook and was good at both; in teaching she was a natural, at managing she was firm but gentle; at organizing she was incredible. She and I worked well together. We both liked change and welcomed the new. Over the years, we had some great adventures together with friends. In the 80s, we drove to California with Sisters Joan Daly and Eileen Murray. We traveled to Mexico and Spain and to Fatima with side trips to London, Paris, Lourdes and the Czech Republic. As well, Carol dreamed of driving through every state. We only managed about 35, adding a number of them as we zigzagged back from Alaska to Philly. Carol would be 85 on October 9th. I would say she had a wonderful life.

Carol’s friendship was a blessing to me. How did I ever happen to be visiting Carol when God decided to take her? And, how fortunate was it that her final agony was so brief? So many blessings!

Carol is supremely happy now; the shadows of the past 5 years have vanished.  What more could any one of us want for her?

Rest in peace, dear sister, dear aunt, dear friend!

Sister Carol Bartol, formerly Sister Mary of the Visitation, (84), died September 14, 2022 in the 65th year of her religious life. Caroline Margaret Mary Bartol was one of 10 children born to Aloysius and Margaret (Palvik) Bartol. Born in Allentown, PA on October 9, 1937, she grew up in Hazelton and entered the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart in 1957.

Sister Carol taught primary grades in Buffalo and Eden, NY, and Philadelphia, PA from 1960 through 1973.

Moving to Atlanta, GA in 1973, Sister Carol attended Georgia State University and then began one-on-one teaching with those struggling with academic difficulties. From 1979 – 83 she aided youngsters through a Private Tutorial Reading Program; additionally, from 1981 – 1983 she was a tutor for Catholic Social Services at the Village of St. Joseph.

Moving to care of the elderly in 1984, Sister Carol became Manager of Marian Manor, the 1st Archdiocese of Atlanta Personal Care Home. St. Joseph’s Hospital of Atlanta profited from her exemplary organizational skills from 1991-2000 when she took the position of CORT Coordinator. CORT collected useful medical items for shipment to third world countries.

When a call went out from Leadership inviting GNSH to volunteer to continue service begun in 1944 in Kodiak, Alaska, Sister Carol volunteered and moved to St. Mary’s Parish where she engaged in Parish Ministry from January, 2001 through 2010. Sister Carol taught ESL and trained the parish altar servers. She also ran the very successful St. Mary’s Thrift Store.

Intracommunity service became her next assignment when she returned to Pennsylvania in early 2011.

Predeceased by her parents, sisters, Barbara Bartol, Eleanor Reuter, Catherine Coleman and brothers, Theodore and Thomas Bartol; she is survived by sisters Alice Horneman, Genevieve Bartol, Dorothy Kiesel and Margaret (Jack)  McKenna.

Sharing of memories at 9:30 am on Saturday, October 1st in the Redeemer Sisters’ Chapel 521 Moredon Rd, Huntingdon Valley, PA; her funeral Mass will follow at 10:00 am. Burial in Resurrection Cemetery, Bensalem, PA.

Donations in Sister Carol’s memory will be gratefully received by the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart. Donations may be made online to the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, or by mail at the following address:14500 Bustleton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116-1188.

Funeral arrangements by Beck/Givnish, Inc.

5 thoughts on “Sister Carol Bartol (Mary of the Visitation)

  1. James Thunder None Langan says:

    God Bless you my sister for now you are with our father in his glory

    Please pray for my wife Flavia. She got chronic back and stomach pains from her Lupas. And my family ( Langan) who always seem to be suffering from trials and afflictions. I ask this of u in Jesus name.

  2. Mimi Palkovics says:

    such a disciple of Jesus, her smile would light up the room! I was in her presence many times, thanks be to
    God, she will be in my memory for a long time. May the Lord welcome her with open arms. Rest in peace dear Sister Carol.

  3. susan collins says:

    What a full and inspiring life.

  4. Aida Hathaway says:

    Rest In Peace Sister Carol, thank you for all you did for us here I. Kodiak, Alaska

  5. Adriana Guerra says:

    I am sorry to hear of the passing of Sister Carol.
    She has a very impressive background as she served God and assisted many people.
    My deepest sympathy to her family and I shall pray for
    her soul. May she rest in peace.

    Adriana B. Guerra

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