Sister Mary Karol Smolka , CSJ, 95, died April 14 at St. Joseph’s Provincial House, Latham. She had been a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet for the past 79 years.
Sister Mary Karol, the former Anna Teresa Smolka, was born in Chadwicks, N.Y., on Nov. 7, 1920, daughter of the late Charles and Antoinette Grabowski Smolka. After graduating from Chadwicks High School, she entered the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Troy, N.Y., on March 19, 1937, and professed final vows on Aug. 15, 1942. Sister Mary Karol received a bachelor’s degree in science and a master’s degree in biology, both from The College of Saint Rose. In addition, she pursued post-graduate studies at Villanova University and Syracuse University. For 26 years, she taught in schools in the Albany and Syracuse Dioceses and for 23 years served as assistant professor of biology at The College of Saint Rose. In her retirement years, Sister Mary Karol visited the county jail with her beloved friend, Sister Helen Charles Aylesworth, who predeceased her.
Sister Mary Karol was an intelligent, practical, feisty woman with a great love of God’s creation. She enjoyed traveling, and the trip of her lifetime was a sabbatical to Alaska where she studied the flora and fauna of the raw landscape, was fascinated by the wildlife and reveled in the beauty of the mountains, glaciers and native culture. In her retirement, Sister Mary Karol and Sister Helen Charles visited prisoners in the county jail, bringing them hope and humor. Faced with a sudden onset of total blindness, Sister Mary Karol spent her last years courageously and was ready to meet God face to face.
Sister Mary Karol is survived by her sister, Loretta (Richard) O’Connor, of Clinton; her sisters-in-law, Mary and Clara Smolka; many nieces and nephews and their families; and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. In addition to her parents, she was predeceased by her brothers, Matt, Joseph, George, Bernard and John Smolka; and her sisters, Mary Smolka and Caroline Sharo.
Sister Mary Karol’s Mass of Christian Burial was held April 16 in the chapel of St. Joseph’s Provincial House, Latham. Contributions in Sister Mary Karol’s name may be made to the Development Office of the Sisters of St. Joseph, 385 Watervliet-Shaker Rd., Latham, N.Y. 12110.