Sister Caroline (Francis Xavier) Sanchez

Growing up in the St. Columbkille Parish (Los Angeles, California), Caroline knew the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at an early age. In fact her mother served as an unofficial "chauffeur” to the Sisters in those early days when Sisters weren’t permitted to drive. Interested in vocations throughout her teen years, in her junior year of high school Caroline was given the following discernment advice from a Sister: Make a novena, and at the end, make up your mind about entering or notand don’t change it!

Caroline did make up her mind and has never changed it! She has now served as a Sister of Notre Dame for 70 years. For 20 of those years she taught grades four to eight.  She confesses that she wasn’t a natural-born teacher: “Though I enjoyed it, I had to learn how to teach.”

Caroline Sanchez, SNDdeN during her time serving as a nurse at the Notre Dame Villa in Saratoga, Calif.

Sister recalls her 16 years as an infirmarian for older Sisters at the Notre Dame Villa in Saratoga as a “perfect fit.” It was hands-on nursing with everyone sharing in the work, from washing and dressing patients to helping them with therapy. Later after she became a Licensed Vocational Nurse she was able to give medications as well. During the time she ministered at the Villa, she also lived and worked at the Casa de Clara Catholic Worker Shelter for homeless women. It was a wonderful time of service.

When a health issue necessitated a change, she was encouraged to move back to Los Angeles to teach English to parents of St. Columbkille School students. Originally the daily class was held at the convent with space given for the mothers to bring their younger children. Later Sister took on the challenge of serving as the Notre Dame AmeriCorps coordinator in Los Angeles for what she calls “seven exciting years.”

In 2017, Sister received received the “Benemerenti Medal” for her outstanding service to the Church in Los Angeles and to the St. Columbkille parish.

Today, Sister Caroline serves as volunteer at St. Columbkille School, is an active member of the parish St. Vincent de Paul Society and a member of the parish finance council. She continues to be energized by being with the poor and the marginalized: “I particularly love working in the inner city. It enlivens me. And I love that the congregation is engaged in justice issues. Our first Hallmark expressing the goodness of God is so important. It's an antidote to violence, to all the terrible things in the world. It's what I can do now."

For Sister Caroline, living and working at St. Columbkille’s School has created a lovely sense of coming full circle in her life and she remains grateful for God’s faithfulness and the faithfulness of her community.

Sister Caroline's Ministries

1955-56Teacher, Grade 6, Guadalupe School, Santa Barbara, Calif.
1956-58Teacher, Grades 5&6, St. Clare Elementary School, Santa Clara, Calif.
1958-59Teacher, Grade 5, St. Joseph Elementary School, San Jose, Calif.
1959-61Teacher, Grade 6, Sacred Heart Elementary School, Salinas, Calif.
1961-63Teacher, Grade 7, Notre Dame Elementary School, Marysville, Calif.
1963-64Teacher, Grade 8, Notre Dame Elementary School, Chico, Calif.
1964-65Teacher, Grade 7, St. Lucy Elementary School, Campbell, Calif.
1965-67Teacher, Grade 6, Dolores School, Santa Barbara, Calif.
1968-71Superior/Principal and Teacher, Grade 8, Mother of Sorrows Elementary School, Los Angeles, Calif.
1971-72Teacher, Grade 7, St. Philomena School, Des Moines, Wash.
1972-75Teacher, Grade 5, Mother of Sorrows School, Los Angeles, Calif.
1976-1992Infirmarian, SNDdeN Villa, Saratoga, Calif.
1992-2001Woman's Literacy Program, St. Columbkille Parish, Los Angeles, Calif.
1995-97Secretary, Nativity School, Los Angeles, Calif.
2001Director of St. Julie Learning Center, St. Columbkille Parish, Los Angeles, Calif.
2001-09Notre Dame Mission Volunteers-Americorps Site Director, Los Angeles, Calif.
2009-PresentVolunteer, St. Columbkille School; Member of St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Finance Council, St. Columbkille Parish, Los Angeles, Calif.