Remembrance of the Life of Sister Angelus Caron SL
Sister Angelus began life as Blanche Louise Caron, the second of the six children of Frank Patrick and Nettie Margaret Roelfs Caron. Three of her siblings also made religious commitments. Her older sister Aldea became Loretto Sister Margaret Francis, resuming her baptismal name, Aldea, in later years. Blanche followed Aldea to Loretto, despite the efforts of her next younger sister, Ruth, to keep her home. The fourth of the Caron sisters, Eleanor, joined the Little Sisters of the Poor as Sister Winifred. And the youngest, Clarabell, contributed a great deal as a nurse anesthetist in various V.A. hospitals while frequently helping out at the nearest convent of Loretto Sisters; in 1983 Clare formalized her lifelong Loretto connection, becoming one of Loretto’s most faithful co-members. The five Caron girls had a single brother, Frank, who was second to the youngest.
Angelus described her growing up in an interview in 2011: “We were born in Stockton, Kan., a tiny town way out in the country. My father was sure that none of us would be educated well, so after Clare was born he moved the entire family to Denver. I attended Arvada Public Schools northwest of the city. The Sisters of Loretto came to our parish school to teach catechism after the 8 a.m. Mass every Sunday morning. We had vacation school with them, too, for two or three weeks every summer.
“My sister Aldea went first to Loretto. I missed her so much. Even though I was a teenager and busy climbing the social ladder, I still longed for Loretto. When I was a senior I would leave school to visit the Sisters. Something inside told me that was exactly what I wanted to be. I became aware that it was not so much my life but our life; ‘You did not choose me. I chose you.’
“My sister Ruth did not approve of my going to Loretto because Aldea was already there. Ruth met the mailman and destroyed every letter from the Motherhouse. Finally it was time for me to go to Loretto, but I did not show up. Loretto called, and after that the Sisters quickly made arrangements for me to go to Kentucky.”
On Oct. 24, 1935, Blanche Louise Caron arrived at Loretto; on April 25, 1936, she received the habit and the name she would use for the rest of her life, Sister Angelus. She made her first vows two years later and her final vows on August 15, 1941.
At the end of her novitiate, Sister Angelus went to Colorado, to teach second grade at St. Mary’s School in Colorado Springs. She wrote: “A bit fearful? Not really. Just 37 second graders. I’m organized with a written schedule for six subjects for the day. I am in charge. My first five years went well I thought. The third grade teacher said the children coming up were well prepared. … In 1943 a new assignment, Flagstaff, Ariz. A disaster from the word GO ! I muddled through the first year with a certain amount of success, but early in the second year something went wrong. At the end of the semester, I was reassigned.
“[Mostly] I have been blessed with a great deal of success in teaching little children. My teaching assignments found me [going from] the shadow of the Rockies to the foot of the Sierra Madre Mountains in Monrovia, Calif., after that short stay in Flagstaff and a California teaser in South Pasadena. From Monrovia, I heard and obeyed the summons to move to Arlington, Va., in 1952.”
Writing her autobiography for the archives in 1977, Angelus reported the following: “[During my years in Arlington] I was sure that St. Ann’s was truly the greatest place to be teaching. Now in 1977, I’m loving teaching at Havern even more. I guess I can look back on my 39 years of teaching in gratitude, as I loved each place in a unique and different way.
“My outstanding memories [so far] sift down to three: In 1965 I was one of 32 chosen from several thousand applicants for an NDEA grant to the University of Virginia. Next, with my limited intellectual ability, I was able to meet the necessary requirements and qualify for a master’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado in 1972. And the crowning blessing came when I flew off to see the beauties of Europe. This is not the Amen of my life. I may still have an Alleluia to sing.”
There were still many Alleluias as Angelus enjoyed a very active life for another 40 years. She continued to teach and tutor at Havern School, giving altogether 25 years before “retiring” to El Paso, Texas, where she took up tutoring in the Loretto Academy Grade School for five years, followed by eight years contributing in a multitude of useful ways to the comforts of El Convento Retreat Center and Nazareth Hall Retirement Center.
In 2005 Angelus made her final move to Loretto Motherhouse, quickly immersing herself in many simple and useful routines to add to the comforts of community life. In recent years, she adopted the patio as her particular charge to keep clear of leaves. With Anndavid Naeger, she went daily to the sewing loft up behind the organ, putting name tags on residents’ clothing, replacing buttons, sewing clothes protectors and creating hanging pockets for all our dining room napkins.
Angelus, recently recalling her early life on the missions, said, “I wrote a sign and pasted it to my alcove with toothpaste to remind myself that Jesus and I are one, not two. The sign said ‘We’re in this together.’ I still have jobs with good days and bad days. But ‘We’re in this together’ keeps me going.
“Who knows how different life would have been for me had I not heard and answered God’s call to be a Sister of Loretto? I owe much loyalty, service and gratitude to the congregation for the advantages, protection and loving care.”
With Angelus, we can now say, Amen! Alleluia!
— By Sister Eleanor Craig SL
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