As we celebrate religious life, SOAR! is happy to share the story of Sister Carol Loughney, who’s been part of SOAR! the past five years.

Sixty years ago, in her first year of teaching, Sister Carol Loughney, IHM, worked in a small parish school on Long Island. She’ll always remember it: the pastor there was celebrating his 50th jubilee, and he told her that after all those years, he loved being a priest.  

She wondered then, if, when she was as old as he was, she would also be able to say that she loved being a Sister.  

Now Sister Carol is celebrating her 60th jubilee, and she has her answer. 

“I love being a Sister,” she said, “and belonging to the wonderful group of women, IHMs of Scranton, 

Pennsylvania.”  

“It’s been such a wonderful journey.” 

Sister Carol grew up in northeast Pennsylvania as the seventh of nine children, where she knew women religious her whole life, including her aunt and two cousins. When she attended Catholic school, she was taught by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Scranton.  

The IHM Sisters – kind, brilliant and fun — were an inspiration to her. 

“I went to Catholic School and I had our Sisters, IHMs, and there were some of them that I greatly admired,” she said. “They were just so much fun.” 

She joined the Sisters three days past her 18th birthday and professed her first vows two and a half years later. 

Sister Carol began her ministry in the classroom, where she taught first and second grade for 20 years. She said she still treasures the times she shared with her young students, savoring the funny things they said and the sweet moments.  

She spent the next 10 years in administration as a school principal, and she worked hard to make schools welcoming and cheerful. “I think in a happy work environment, you can do almost anything,” she said. After that, she ran a literary council in Lumberton, North Carolina for two years. Many times, the adults she worked with did not know how to read, and they were frightened that they would be found out.  

Sister Carol spent the next 22 years as a pastoral administrator in North Carolina, working with two parishes that did not have a priest. “Everything I ever loved, I had in pastoral administration,” she said. 

Looking back, she said, “Everything I’ve done prepared me for the next step. It was like a seamless garment. As I developed, my ministries changed.” 

At the second parish where she worked as a pastoral administrator, Saint Bernadette in Butner, she helped grow it from a nearly empty church to a thriving community with 500 families.  

“I grew so much spiritually, through the ministry to these people,” Sister Carol said.  

When she turned 75, Sister Carol retired and moved to Maryland, where she was looking forward to living in community with Sisters again. She also started working part-time for SOAR!. For five years, she has been calling to thank donors in her ministry of prayer and presence.  

“It’s just been very enriching,” she said. “And of course, my only message is, we’re praying for you. Thank you so much for your donations.”  

These days, Sister Carol said she has more time to pray and read. She visits family often, and looks forward to moving back to Pennsylvania soon.  

Her advice: “Just show up, put the time in, to prayer and reading scripture, and reading spiritual book, or books of wisdom. We put the time in and God does the work.” 

“We have the exterior ministry to the people of God, and we also have the other side of it, and that is prayer and contemplation,” she said. “That is where we get our strength, from God. Through prayer and contemplation, I have grown, because of God.” 

Sister Carol poses with IHM Sisters at SOAR!’s 2018 awards dinner in Washington.