Sr. Mary Carleen


Date of Birth: September 11, 1932

Entered Eternal Life: October 7, 2019

Eulogy by: Melissa Scholl, OSF

Good morning, again, and welcome to Sr. Carleen Rooney’s sister, Eileen, Carleen’s brother-in-law Frank, and nephew Ed. And welcome to all here today as we share in loss, yet celebrate Carleen’s freedom and joy as she rests now in the arms of her beloved Creator.


When I considered how to take such an amazing life and put it into the eulogy, I heard Carlene’s voice in my ear clearly say, “keep it short, Melis.”  When Eileen and I talked, Eileen backed that up.


In our prayer for Sr. Mary Carleen Rooney the morning after her passing, the lyrics of the opening song were, “Gentle woman, quiet light, morning star so strong and bright.”  We could end right there with the caveat that Carleen’s light quite literally bounced for most of her life. 


These words so perfectly describe the woman her family knew as Mary Therese, and our Sr. Carleen.   According to Eileen, Carleen was “the good one”, caring, compassionate and loving and energetic even as a young child. 


Carleen brought these qualities to the service of God’s people and to the Allegany Franciscans.  She served in the ministry of education from the time she entered. After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Education from St.Elizabeth Teacher’s College in 1964, Carleen went straight to Fordham University and gained her M.S. and PhD. in education. 


In 1968 Carleen began her 30-year ministry and Allegany Franciscan presence at  St. Bonaventure University. She participated in the creation of the Elementary Teacher program and developed the Curricula Center. Throughout three decades, Carleen supported and helped prepare hundreds of women and men as elementary school teachers, all the while inculcating the Franciscan values of compassion, caring, peacefulness, and non-violence in her students and their approach to teaching.  In addition, Carleen was present to the administrators, supervising teachers and children of the schools she visited. She also participated fully in the St. Bonaventure community and FSA the communities in which she lived, all done with grace and joy. 


In a BonaAlumnus newsletter, one alum reflected on his experience of Carleen during his somewhat difficult student teaching days. He said, “Sr. Carleen would sit with me, we’d talk, she would offer support and suggestions, and she always ended with, ‘you can do this’ and a smile of encouragement. Can’t you just see her sparkling eyes, encouraging smile and hear the voice? 


Upon retirement from St. Bonaventure in September 1998, Carleen tried something new in the Mission Effectiveness Department at St. Anthony’s Hospital in St. Petersburg FL. and in 2002 returned to St. Elizabeth Motherhouse. She volunteered in the Mission Society and wherever needed, and gradually began to teach us all about the journey of surrender that was her long and final journey to God. 


Even as Carleen’s health changed, her spirit of caring and support of others never wavered. This expression of service to those caring for her, her love for her family and community was different but never failed. Carleen remained a reflection of of God present among us until this past Tuesday evening when she was called back home to God.      


Carleen may our thoughts of you and your prayer for us all,

                        “teach us wisdom, teach us love”.