Published May 26, 2016
ATLANTA—The weekend of May 14 and 15, Sister of Mercy Carolyn Oberkirch was welcomed back by the Interfaith Outreach Home community and the Our Lady of the Assumption Church community.
Sister Carolyn arrived in 1974 to teach first grade at Our Lady of the Assumption School. After several years, Sister Carolyn switched her ministry to reaching out to the elderly, which grew to include the homeless and the needy in the community. She became involved with a group of some two dozen churches and synagogues concerned about the growing population of homeless families.
She had a vision of a home for these homeless families where they could remain together as a family. They would live in a safe and stable short-term living environment, work, go to school, and through training, education and personal development, return to the community as self-sufficient. She was instrumental in the founding of the Interfaith Outreach Home on Buford Highway in Atlanta in the 1990s.
In 1995 she returned to her hometown of Mobile, Alabama, as the administrator at the Convent of Mercy, the retirement convent for the Sisters of Mercy. She has been there since and has also continued her work with Catholic Social Services and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
On May 15, the new After School Room was dedicated in honor of Sister Carolyn. Marist Father Jim Duffy, pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Church, led the dedication and blessing. The room was renovated in October, along with other projects, by more than 100 volunteers from OLA.
Attendees at the dedication were welcomed by two children who are residents of IOH and executive director, Deborah Walker Little. Speakers shared stories about the lively sister, with the common expression that she’s a strong person who put her faith into action and inspired others to do the same.
In 2014 Sister Carolyn celebrated her 50th jubilee as a sister. She fondly remembers her time at OLA, recalling, “I came here at 28 and will be turning 70 this summer … lots of history. An example … my first class of first-graders are 47 and 48 years old this year!”