2012 Golden Jubilarian
Although she always had wanted to be a nurse, Sr. Maureen Carney, OP, was so drawn to the Dominican Order that she chose to join the Akron (Ohio) Dominicans, a teaching congregation where nursing as a profession was not an option. As this year she celebrates 50 years since she made her Profession of Vows, she affirms that she is grateful for her decision and for the wonderful, winding path her ministerial life has taken.
Initially, Sr. Maureen was indeed a teacher, serving at grade schools in Akron, Ohio (including St. Vincent and Our Lady of the Elms), Youngstown, Ohio (St. Dominic), and Denver, Colorado (Notre Dame). During those years, she especially enjoyed writing and implementing an individualized math program for middle-grade students. "I was determined to prove that all children could learn math if they had a chance to learn skills in a progressive fashion according to their own ability," she explains.
But the call to the medical field remained with her, and as new ministry possibilities began to open up to the Sisters, in 1980 she began a chaplaincy training program at Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Certified by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains, Sr. Maureen ministered for four years in hospital chaplaincy, first at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Youngstown and then at Timken-Mercy Hospital in Canton, where she felt especially privileged to minster to the dying and be a support to those in grief.
Her chaplaincy experience served her well as she transitioned to pastoral care in a parish setting, ministering for one year at three parishes in the Denver and Littleton, Colorado areas. She was then hired as director of pastoral care at St. Mary's Parish in Littleton. Among other areas of responsibility, she visited Catholic patients in non-Catholic hospitals, developed parish support groups for caregivers and for those in grief, and helped in providing follow-up care for those returning from hospital stays who needed additional support. Building on her chaplaincy skills, Sr. Maureen soon decided to pursue a master's in counseling psychology by attending weekend classes while continuing to work at St. Mary's. Sr. Maureen then accepted a counseling position at Maria Droste Counseling Services in Denver, where she says she felt privileged to minister to low-income persons of all ages and needs.
In 1996, Sr. Maureen answered her congregation's call to return to Akron to serve her Sisters as the health care coordinator at their wellness center, where she then ministered for six years. "What a delight it was to sit at the feet of the elders in the congregation and learn from their wisdom!" she exclaims.
After a much-appreciated one-year sabbatical, Sr. Maureen returned to Denver in 2003, where she entered yet another new ministry. She was hired by Archdiocesan Housing, Inc., to be a resident services coordinator at Marian Plaza, a senior low-income housing apartment complex. "The position was much like being a social worker. I had much to learn about public benefits, but at the same time I was able to transfer my teaching, chaplaincy and counseling skills to minister to the 120 residents who called Marian Plaza home," she explains. "I found I loved this challenging ministry!" When the organization restructured five years later, her position was moved to Catholic Charities Adult Services Division, where she continues to do similar work, but with a new title and in an additional setting. Today, she coordinates resident services three days a week at Marian Plaza in Denver as well as serves two days a week at Madonna Plaza in Commerce City, Colorado. "I have ministered to seniors and persons with disabilities for more than eight years now," she shares. "I am not sure who has learned the most during this time - the residents continue to be my teachers!"
Reflecting on the past 50 years, Sr. Maureen proclaims, "The spirit has led me through many transitions!" Through it all she has been grateful for her Dominican Sisters, who continue to be a source of strength and inspiration to her.
To make a donation in honor of Sr. Maureen Carney, click here.