S. Carol Wester has been a Racine Dominican Sister for more than 62 years, and throughout that time has served in varied and diverse ministries. While there have been many twists and turns on her journey, she knows that God has always been leading the way.
She grew up in a loving Catholic home and found herself surrounded by many women religious who had a great impact on her. She felt the call to religious life early and, when visiting with aunts and cousins who were Racine Dominicans, she found their joy and dedication to service to be just what her heart was seeking. S. Carol has fond memories of her time as a novice and found kindred spirits in her fellow Sisters.
Education was very important to S. Carol throughout her life. She received a B.A. from Dominican College in Racine, Wisconsin; a M.A. from the University of Oregon; and she went back to school and received a law degree from Marquette University. She often said that learning was a lifelong endeavor.
S. Carol began her ministry in teaching, with high school math being her specialty. She eventually started to work in administration, as a principal, program director, registrar and guidance counselor. Students loved taking her classes and stopping by to chat, and she found their energy and enthusiasm to be contagious. “Seeing students succeed and grow is so rewarding for a teacher,” says S. Carol. “Watching my students achieve was such a reward!
It was during her years in education that she began to think about places where women were not always represented. After spending time discerning her next steps, S. Carol decided that law would give her a way to make an impact. She attended law school and then starting working in private practice. She took on difficult cases in areas, like child custody and sensitive crimes, places where the justice system did not always work for women. These years gave her a unique perspective on social justice.
The next call for S. Carol was leadership, and she answered that call for many organizations for more than 30 years. She was president of the Racine Dominicans, executive director for Neighborhood Watch, co-director for the HOPES Center (Racine), assistant director for Bethany Apartments (Racine), and executive director for the National Association of Treasurers of Religious Communities (NATRI) in Silver Spring, Maryland. S. Carol described her leadership style as participative, and those who worked with her found a leader, mentor and friend. She was also a prolific volunteer and spent countless hours giving her time to help wherever there was a need.
My most cherished memories of my years in ministry weave around the people with whom I have been able to serve and the joy of being in service together.sister carol wester
Throughout her years in ministry, S. Carol had an impact on the lives of those with whom she worked and those she was privileged to serve. She is described by former colleagues and students as hard working, a lover of people, someone who was always focused on goals and direction, but also found the joy and the fun in the work they did together. “Carol was and continues to be an eternal optimist. She could find light in the most ominous of situations,” says S. Sharon Simon, who spent years in leadership with S. Carol. “She was a true mentor for me in so many ways, but especially knowing when to delegate and trusting the task would be accomplished,” says S. Sharon.
For S. Carol, her years in ministry still bring a smile to her face when she remembers the work accomplished together and the impact made for those served. “My most cherished memories of my years in ministry weave around the people with whom I have been able to serve and the joy of being in service together,” she says.
Now in retirement, S. Carol continues to be a leader in the Community through prayer, being a listening ear and always willing to laugh and enjoy the gift of her Sisters. She is a lover of nature and can be spotted on her daily walks enjoying the beautiful world that God has created. She is a part of the card group at Siena, and you can always catch her supporting the Brewers, Badgers and Packers with Wisconsin pride.
Throughout her many years of ministry, leadership and service, her faith has been at the core. S. Carol says, “I find my spirituality to be one of searching so that I can allow God to be discovered within me, the God who is a force of love and goodness.” She has shared her faith throughout her life’s journey – with students, colleagues, fellow leaders and other Sisters.
— by Kyla Mrazek