Sister Carmel

[Age 88] A teacher, she later served as coordinator of religious education for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

May 05, 2007|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Sister Marie Carmel Galligan, the former coordinator of religious education for the Baltimore Archdiocese who later led spiritual retreats, died of complications from dementia Thursday at her order's retirement home in the Woodbrook section of Baltimore County. She was 88.

Born Carmel Theresa Galligan in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., she earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry at the College of St. Rose in Albany in 1938 and moved to Baltimore to enter the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1939. Friends said that growing up in proximity to the Saratoga racetrack provided Sister Carmel with a lifelong interest in thoroughbred racing.

Sister Carmel later received a master's degree in biology at the Catholic University of America and earned a second master's degree in theology from St. Michael's College in Colchester, Vt.

"She was an example of a person who had balance," said Sister Bernice Feilinger, a fellow member of her order. "She was part scientist, part businesswoman and part musician, all mixed with a strong spiritual and joyful base."

She taught at the Institute of Notre Dame in East Baltimore from 1941 to 1952, and later held teaching posts at St. Mary's School in Bryantown and was principal and mother superior at St. John's Literary Institute, a Roman Catholic high school in Frederick, from 1962 to 1970. She was then a vice principal and teacher at Bishop Walsh High School in Cumberland.

In 1977, she was hired by the Archdiocese of Baltimore to be coordinator of religious education for elementary and secondary schools.

In 1979, she joined the staff of Manresa-on-the-Severn, where she became a spiritual director and leader of religious retreats.

"She was really the best director we had," said the Rev. Frank McGauley, a Jesuit priest with whom she worked. "She was a brilliant woman and an excellent speaker who never approached a subject without being thoroughly prepared."

He also recalled that Sister Carmel "liked that things be done well. She would tell us all off in a respectful way."

Lucille Oliver, who was the office manager at Manresa, recalled that Sister Carmel wrote her notes in green and red ink.

"She arrived early in the morning and was perfectly organized for the day," Mrs. Oliver said.

Friends said Sister Carmel was proud of her Irish heritage and enjoyed paraphrasing the song "Harrigan" to "Galligan."

In 1993, Sister Carmel began working at St. Ignatius Church in downtown Baltimore, where she also led retreats. She retired in 2001.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday at Villa Assumpta, 6401 N. Charles St.

Survivors include her brother, Clement Galligan of Hillcrest Heights; and nieces and nephews.

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