By Susanne Janssen
Armed with a red pen and a smile, Sr. Margaret Karam, OP, would come to the Living City offices each month when our magazine was almost ready to go to the printer, and in three to four hours she would read through the whole issue.
Woe to any grammatical error, misspelled word or incorrect phrase that fell under her attentive eyes. She usually found several “likes” that had to be “such as,” or colloquial words like “kids” that she said should only be used to refer to young goats. She was an integral part of the proofreading team that guarantees we make as few mistakes as possible.
But her contribution was always much larger than that. An avid reader, her feedback and ideas were always on point and full of charity at the same time, reflecting a deep wisdom that came from her love for God.
Born on July 30, 1924 in Arizona, Sr. Margaret earned a bachelor’s in social studies and a master’s in history. She then became an airline stewardess because she wanted to see the world, but when her roommate died in a plane crash at age 20, she gave up her job at her father’s request.
She started working as a social worker for Catholic Social Services, helping troubled teen girls, and eventually was asked by the Good Shepherd Sisters in Los Angeles if she would like to join their religious order. She refused, but shortly afterwards, her aunt, a Dominican nun, came to visit the family together with another Dominican sister. This young sister won Margaret over with her joy.
Margaret began to follow her vocation as a sister of the Adrian Dominicans, an incredible, radical choice, based on the conviction that she was doing what God wanted from her. For more than 68 years, she was part of her order, staying faithful to her yes and conquering many with her joy.
With dedication, she served the poor as a social worker and teacher for many years in Los Angeles, Arizona and Chicago. In 1980, she met the Focolare and felt called to live its spirituality, which, as she always said, enhanced and deepened her life as a Dominican.
In 1991 she asked her provincial superior if her order would give her permission to move to Mariapolis Luminosa, the Focolare’s little town in New York’s Hudson Valley, for a year or two, and in January of 1992 she received permission. Sr. Margaret continued to ask for an extension of that permission each year, and amazingly it was granted year after year — for 25 years.
She became a cornerstone of the Mariapolis and welcomed all religious sisters from different congregations who came to stay for some time. With great commitment she taught English to hundreds of young people. It was more than grammar and vocabulary that she taught them though. Many of them also learned from her example how answering God’s call leads to holiness and happiness.
In July 2017, she had to say goodbye to Luminosa and move to Adrian, Michigan to her mother house. Surrounded by her Dominican sisters, she left for heaven on March 9 at the age of 93.
Reprinted with permission from Living City Magazine – May 2018