Cojourners in the Spotlight

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Carol Warren
Carol Vasaly

Carol Warren

Carol Warren WebCarol Warren - Dixon, California Carol grew up and lived much of her life in West Virginia, Texas and Kentucky. She still maintains many ties in West Virginia and she says that she is a tenth-generation West Virginian. Carol became acquainted with the Rochester Franciscans when she worked in the literacy program in Harlan County, KY, with Sister Mary Cullen. Mary was her boss when Carol was at VISTA and they became good friends. Carol did not become a Cojourner until 1996, though she thinks she has always been Franciscan. She states, “That is where my heart is and I would consider it a real privilege if I were anything like either Francis or Clare.”

Carol dates her activism to a Bishop’s Appalachian People’s Pastoral in 1975, which was ground-breaking and drew many religious to Appalachia from different parts of the country. This brought many issues to the forefront, such as strip mining. A similar Pastoral in 1995 discussed environmental destruction, dependency on the coal industry and the health effects of strip mining. It led to small sustainable communities in Appalachia. This past December, 2015, a third document was published, called a People's Pastoral. This time, it did not ask for signatures from the bishops. It was a message from the Appalachian people to the Catholic Church about environmental issues, lack of employment, poverty and future land use. She has felt honored to be part of this whole process and continues to be a consultant, even though she has moved away.

Carol has been on diocesan boards, working for two dioceses in the office of peace and justice. She says that, at one time, the religious groups and environmentalists did not consider one another as allies, but they are now definitely working together. She continues to be an activist in California and is currently working on the danger of oil trains carrying crude oil through that state. According to Carol, a derailment would be catastrophic. She works with the Sierra Club and other activists, writing letters and going to city council hearings for those locations that have been approached to build refineries which plan to use oil trains to transport crude. Carol is definitely knowledgeable on many issues concerning the wise use of God's creation. (I do think Francis would have been pleased.)

 

Carol Vasaly

Carol Vasaly

Carol came to know the Franciscans at a young age when she used to visit her aunt, Sister Pancretia, in Rochester. Carol was born in December, 1921, in Owatonna. When she reached school age, was taught by our Rochester Franciscan Sisters serving there. She says that she is half Irish and half Yankee! Her sister, Alice Ann Campion, was a member of our Community. Carol thought she was going to be a Sister untilshe was about 12 years old, or whenever she discovered boys. She learned to play piano from her mother who taught piano lessons in their home. Her mother taught up to 50 students at a time and Carol said that the piano was always going. After high school, she went to the University of Minnesota where she got her degree in art education. She had a wonderful mentor who wanted her to experience as many different mediums of art possible. One sees examples of her work throughout her home: batik, oil paintings, ceramics, works in enamel, print-making - all very beautiful.

Carol taught art at Regina High School in Minneapolis. She married her husband, Tom,during the war and has four very accomplished children. Her daughter, Ann, is a Hennepin County judge; her daughter Mary, a professor at Boston University. Her son, Paul, is in Denver but suffers from schizophrenia and Carol has not heard from him in some time. (Prayers, please). Her other son, Tom, is a lawyer and is executive secretary of the Board of Judicial Standards. He is a former assistant attorney general.

Carol is the past president of the Minneapolis branch of the American Association of University Women. She remains very conscious of social justice issues and keeps connected to the Rochester Franciscan Community through prayer and the Ordo. She maintains contact with her Franciscan Life Group and has wonderful memories of Cojourning. She likes to visit the residents in the assisted living and memory care units where she lives, saying “people are so lonely over there.” Carol is a dear, warm and friendly person and presents a compassionate presence to those around her.

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