Published August 23, 2021
MOBILE, Ala.—Sister M. Carolyn Oberkirch, RSM, died Thursday, Aug. 19 at the Convent of Mercy in Mobile, Alabama.
Sister Carolyn attended Little Flower Catholic School and was a graduate of Convent of Mercy.
She entered the Sisters of Mercy on Sept. 8, 1964 and professed her final vows on Aug. 15, 1971. She taught at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School in Baltimore, Maryland and Our Lady of the Assumption School in Atlanta, where she continued on in pastoral care at Our Lady of the Assumption Church and ministered to older adults, the homeless and the poor. She was the founder of the Atlanta Interfaith Outreach Home for families in poverty.
Mary Kay Aisthorpe, longtime parishioner at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, also worked for Sister Carolyn at the parish.
Aisthorpe said the work with Sister Carolyn taught her the true meaning of social justice.
“She was tireless in caring for people in need,” said Aisthorpe. “A perfect example is the Interfaith Outreach Home. She organized churches of all denominations in and around the OLA vicinity to build a home to enable homeless families to live together and be educated in life lessons. That home is still thriving after over 25 years thanks to faithful volunteers and generous contributors.”
Father John Ulrich, SM, worked with Sister Carolyn in the mid-1980s when he came to OLA as parochial vicar. He had previously known her while teaching at Marist School. She would help find service projects for his students.
“Sister Carolyn had a heart for the elderly and the poor and was a real advocate for them. She was very gentle with the poor and elderly, but she could be really tough with those who were not sensitive toward their needs,” said the priest.
Father Ulrich said the sister would use her great sense of humor to diffuse stressful situations, was a wonderful problem solver and quick thinker. Despite serious back problems, Sister Carolyn never let that deter her from work. The priest once saw her lying flat on her back in a station wagon to be able to go to an Interfaith board meeting.
“She was a credit to the religious life and a great witness to the charism of the Sisters of Mercy,” he said.
Sister Carolyn came to the Convent of Mercy in Mobile in 1995 where she ministered to the retired Sisters of Mercy until her death.
Sister Carolyn was preceded in death by her parents, Charles Fred Oberkirch and Betty Elizabeth Neil Oberkirch. Survivors include brothers, Charles Fred (Lynn) Oberkirch Jr., Andrew Joseph (Pam) Oberkirch and Richard Scott Oberkirch; one sister, Becky Ellis; numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives.
The Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Aug. 24 at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Mobile. Interment followed in the Catholic Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Interfaith Outreach Home or to the Sisters of Mercy Mission Advancement Fund.