Sr. Carol Kenning (1935 – 2013)

Sr. Carol (left) enjoying her Jubilee in 2007 with Sr. Margaret Hoffman.

Sister Carol Kenning, a Sister of Notre Dame for 56 years, died peacefully in Oakland, CA on November 13, 2013.

Sr. Carol embodied the sense of mission, of going where she was needed, generously available for the sake of others. After completing her term on the Province Leadership Team, she chose to respond to the need for a teacher at inner-city Ascension School in Los Angeles. That interim position turned into nearly twenty years of service at nearby St. Columbkille School and Parish, teaching, tutoring, serving as religion coordinator, providing encouragement for both children and adults, until just a few days before she died.

Sr. Carol had previously taught high school at St. Joseph Notre Dame in Alameda, at Notre Dame in Salinas, at Star of the Sea in Honolulu, and at College of Notre Dame in Belmont. Teachers and students alike appreciated her kindness and self-effacing sense of humor. One of Sr. Carol’s long-time friends, Dr. Mary Ellen Boyling, described her accurately as someone who had an “immeasurable impact!”

Carol graduated from Notre Dame High School in Watsonville before entering the Novitiate. Predeceased by her parents, Robert and Helen Kenning, Sr. Carol will be lovingly remembered by her brother, Mark (Dinny) Kenning; her sister, Mary (Roderick) McDonald, many nieces and nephews, and her community, the Sisters of Notre Dame.

A Mass celebrating Sr. Carol’s life will be celebrated on Saturday, November 23, 2013, at 3:00 p.m. at Notre Dame de Namur Province Center, Belmont; interment at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, 1520 Ralston Avenue, Belmont, CA 94002, or online.


  1. Carol was one of the kindest women I lived with. She had a great sense of humor and a willingness to do whatever needed to be done within the community, I have fond memories of her.

    On another note, my mother (Margaret Wheeler) passed away on May 24, 2013. She was soon to be 91 and had been in failing health over the past year. She lived a full and happy life. We miss her.


  2. I remember Sr. Carol well. She was a year ahead of me at MNDHS in Watsonville and her brother, Mark, was in my elementary class. She had a great sense of humor and was well loved by us all. She has served SND well over the years and she will be missed by us all. My sympathies to her family.

  3. I am so sorry to learn of Sr. Carol's death. WE have many reasons to thank God for her sterling self so busy all these years living the mission. May her grace-full life continue to bless all of you in California and the rest of us by our root connections.

  4. I am sorry for Sr. Carol's passing. She was my high school teacher in Alameda and when I entered the Sisters of Notre Dame she visited me at the novitiate many times. I so appreciated her visits and encouragement.
    She was a very warm woman who always worked behind the scenes, never needing to get the adulation she so deserved. It was an honor to know her.
    Jean AmRhein

  5. Sister Mary Matthew taught me Senior English at ND Alameda, in 1963.
    One of the poems she taught us was Valediction: Forbidding Mourning, by John Donne.
    I never would have understood that poem without having had it interpreted by her.
    It has had a great deal of meaning for me over the course of my life, and at some point I was able to tell her that.
    Now I'm writing it here in honor of her memory and the loving service she gave to us all. She was like sunshine.

    Valediction: Forbidding Mourning by John Donne
    "As virtuous men pass mildly away,
    And whisper to their souls to go,
    Whilst some of their sad friends do say
    The breath goes now, and some say, 'No':

    So let us melt, and make no noise,
    No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempest move;
    "Twere profanation of our joys
    To tell the laity our love…….

    Dull sublunary lovers' love
    (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit
    Absence, because it doth remove
    Those things that elemented it.

    But we by a love so much refined,
    That our selves know not what it is,
    Inter-assured of the mind,
    Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.

    Our two souls therefore, which are one,
    Though I must go, endure not yet
    A breach, but an expansion,
    Like gold to airy thinness beat.

    If they be two, they are two so
    As stiff twin compasses are two;
    Thy soul, the fixed foot, makes no show
    To move, but doth, if the other do.

    And though it in the center sit,
    Yet when the other far doth roam,
    It leans and hearkens after it,
    And grows erect, as that comes home.

    Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
    Like the other foot, obliquely run;
    Thy firmness makes my circle just,
    And makes me end where I begun."

  6. I barely knew Carol over the years, and yet I had a beautiful experience of her just days before her death. I was at Mercy visitng another friend when upon seeing her name outside her room, I stopped in just to acknowledge her only to have her open her enormous blue eyes so full of light and life acknowledging me with a warm and radiant, "Why hello, Karen!" We shared a touching and memorable moment together, and I left feeling as though I had known her for a very long time. What a precious person. Karen

  7. I first met Sr. Carol while we were both receiving chemo. Whenever we both were in the chemo room, I liked talking with her about the Catholic Church. I am Catholic and attended Catholic schools so we had something in common. She was always pleasant to talk with and she always was reading. Most of the time it was the Bible and other times it was another book. She was always in wonderful spirits when we were in the room and she brought me a sense of peace. Thank you Sr. Carol for taking the time to talk with me.

  8. I was so sorry to hear about Sr. Carol's passing. She was certainly a very special and gifted nun. Sr. Carol was my great aunt, as my mother, Dorothy Sheridan Norton, was Helen Kenning's sister who was Sr. Carol's mother. I only met Sr. Carol a few times, but loved each time we did get together. She looks very much like my mother, Dorothy, looking like the Sheridan side of the family. Sr. would write often to my mother, Dorothy Norton, and mother always loved hearing from her and it would brighten her day. Dorothy Norton passed away at 96, on September 1, 2011. The lives Sr. Carol touched were numerous and made special, as a result. Thank you Sr. Carol!

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