Meet Sister Caroline (Francis Xavier) Sanchez

Growing up in the St. Columbkille Parish (Los Angeles, California), Caroline knew the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur at an early age. In fact her mother served as an “unofficial chauffeur” to the Sisters in those early days when Sisters weren’t permitted to drive. Interested in vocations throughout her teen years, in her junior year of high school Caroline was given the following vocation advice from a Sister: Make a novena, and at the end, make up your mind about entering or not and don’t change it!

Sister Caroline Sanchez (right)

Caroline did make up her mind and has never changed it! Caroline has now served as a Sister of Notre Dame for more than 60 years. For 20 of those years she taught grades four to eight, with seven years at Mother of Sorrows School in Los Angeles.  She confesses that she wasn’t a natural-born teacher. “Though I enjoyed it, I had to learn how to teach.”

Sister recalls her 16 years as an infirmarian at the Notre Dame Villa in Saratoga aa “perfect fit.” It was hands-on nursing with everyone sharing in the work, from washing and dressing patients to helping them with therapy. Later after she became an LVN she was able to give medications as well. During the time she ministered at the Villa, she also worked the Casa de Clara Shelter for homeless women. It was a wonderful time of service.

When a health issue necessitated a change, she was encouraged to move back to Los Angeles to teach English to parents of St. Columbkille School students. Originally the daily class was held at the convent with space given for the mothers to bring their younger children. Later Sister took on the challenge of serving as the Notre Dame AmeriCorps coordinator in Los Angeles for what she calls “seven exciting years.”

In 2017, Sister received received the “Benemerenti Medal” for her outstanding service to the Church in Los Angeles and to the St. Columbkille parish.

Today Sister Caroline serves as the director of the St. Julie Center at St. Columbkille School and volunteers in the afterschool Homework Help time, as she has for many years. She continues to be energized by being with the poor and the marginalized: “I particularly love working in the inner city. It enlivens me. And I love that the congregation is engaged in justice issues. Our first Hallmark expressing the goodness of God is so important. It's an antidote to violence, to all the terrible things in the world. It's what I can do now."

For Sister Caroline, living and working at St. Columbkille’s School has created a lovely sense of coming full circle in her life and she remains grateful for God’s faithfulness and the faithfulness of her community.


  1. I worked with Sister Caroline in the first of her 7 years as an AmeriCorps volunteer. She is a wonderful women and I enjoyed learning from her so much.

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