Sister Mary Jessica

Sister Mary Jessica                            ND 4647                          PDF Download


Immaculate Conception Province, USA

Date and Place of Birth:              February 1, 1936       Cleveland, Ohio
Date and Place of Profession:    August 16, 1955         Cleveland, Ohio
Date and Place of Death:            February 24, 2024     Health Care Center, Chardon, Ohio
Date and Place of Burial:            February 29, 2024     Resurrection Cemetery, Chardon

“We should do all things in the name of Jesus!” (Sr. Maria Aloysia)

As the only child of Victor and Anne (Pezdirtz) Karlinger, Carol Anne was the center of her parents’ affection. In their home, love flourished and grew stronger through the years. As a child at Oliver Hazard Perry Elementary School Carol Anne was recognized as a gifted student. She chose to attend Notre Dame Academy in Cleveland for high school and was an active participant on the debate team with a keen interest in world affairs. Her association with the sisters and membership in the sodality led her to realize a vocation to religious life. Carol Anne entered as a postulant on February 2, 1953 from Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, and at investment received the name Sister Mary Jessica.

Sister received a bachelor’s degree in social studies and English from Notre Dame College in South Euclid and a master’s degree in European history from the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana. Later she earned a master’s degree in religious education from Notre Dame Institute in Middleburg, Virginia. Sister Mary Jessica was a master educator, dedicated to learning both for herself and her students. Her innovative classroom methods sometimes demanded high degrees of student engagement, integrating history and current events. Her recognition of the dignity of each person was the basis for her life-long commitment to social justice. Sister was respected and remembered with gratitude by students for her efforts to make history come alive.

In 1989 Sister Mary Jessica was missioned to research and write the history of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld in the United States from 1874-1924. As she tried to understand what our early sisters brought with them, research led to a greater understanding and appreciation of the German roots of our Congregation. Sisters Maria Aloysia and Maria Ignatia, Fr. Elting and Bernard Overberg became treasured friends! Although Sister completed a first draft of the book a few years ago, she was never satisfied that the scope of her work was accurate and complete. She worked tirelessly to research and refine her writing to ensure that the culture of caring of our first sisters – the lives of the foundress and co-foundress and the spiritual and educational influence of Bernard Overberg – was understood and loved by each Sister of Notre Dame.

Even as her physical health declined, Sister Mary Jessica continued to work as long as she could. Her insights and writings are a valuable resource for our international Congregation.

We are grateful for her loving dedication and perseverance. Sister was a faith-filled and faithful Sister of Notre Dame. Her love for God and for the Congregation were the heartbeats of her life. May she rest in peace!