Sister Carol Marie Haag, SDS (Sr. Carla) has lived our founding vision to serve “by all ways and means.” Her diverse ministries include teaching at Milwaukee’s Pius XI High School from 1971 through 1978; working in development at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland from 1986 to 1992; and serving with the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore from 1992-2000. She also served three years in the secretariat at the Salvatorian Mother House in Rome.
Sr. Carol Marie entered the Sisters of the Divine Savior in 1962 at our former St. Mary’s Convent at 35th and Center Streets in Milwaukee. She professed first vows in 1965 and final vows in 1971.
Most recently, Sr. Carol Marie served on a disaster clean-up crew with Kelmann Restoration in Milwaukee. After she retired, former Kelmann co-owner, Richard Niggemann invited her to join a group of volunteers who minister at the Milwaukee County Children’s Detention Center (CDC).
“I prayed a lot about his request,” Sr. Carol Marie says, “but I couldn’t say yes or no until I tried it.” Each week she found herself asking the Holy Spirit for inspiration, because, she says, “I haven’t walked a mile in these youths’ moccasins.”
The volunteers who call themselves “Team CDC” visit the detention center in pairs. Their visits are a privilege for the teens. Sr. Carol Marie knows many teens come just to get out of their cell block. “Even so,” she says, “they read Scripture and share with us.” Sr. Carol Marie comes prepared with at least two talking points on the Scripture reading to break the ice.
“I am in awe of how transparent they can be about what brought them to the detention center. At the end of our time together, we ask if anyone has something to ask the Lord. They usually pray for their upcoming court dates and often for a close family member.”
Sometimes, they ask why the volunteers come.
“I tell them that as a teacher, I had 50 minutes to help 34 students learn to type, but never got to ask about their relationship with the Lord.” Sr. Carol Marie says faith sharing puts everyone on the same level – one human being to another. She recalls one boy who came to the sessions month after month for over a year.
“I could see a gradual change in him and he admitted responsibility for what he did. I am most certain it is the Divine Savior and Holy Spirit who give these kids the courage to change.” She also feels the Holy Spirit brought her to this ministry.
“In the U.S., the Salvatorian Family has three priorities: human trafficking, ministry to children and teens, and immigration. I didn’t plan it, but I’m grateful my ministry addresses one of these priorities. It’s what Jesus would have us do.”