Sister Carol Clasgens passed away at Nazareth Home in Louisville, Kentucky on September 17, 2014. In the last months of her life, she wanted to share her reflections on her move from Memphis, Tennessee to the Motherhouse at Nazareth, Kentucky and ultimately to Nazareth Home. It was her desire to express her gratitude to the Sisters who were instrumental in opening Nazareth Home years ago and to all those who provide loving care and presence there today. With the help of some friends, she wrote the following reflection.
Gift of a Unique Homecoming
Carol Clasgens, SCN
My journey to Nazareth began when I received word that it was time for me to go to Nazareth to retire. I was filled with doubts about whether or not I was ready to retire. I put my fears behind me and went to the Motherhouse at Nazareth, KY.
Arriving at Nazareth, I was happy to see my sisters - especially those with whom I had lived and worked. Some sisters from Memphis were there, and that helped to make me feel even more at home. I was part of the “breakfast club” at Nazareth - the sisters who lived on the same floor in Carrico Hall gathered in our small dining room each morning, and we enjoyed laughing and remembering stories of our missions.
I began to have some trouble walking, and after a few falls, two of the coordinators asked if I would be willing to go to Nazareth Home. At Nazareth Home, they explained, I would be able to receive physical therapy to regain strength. I agreed to leave the Motherhouse for Nazareth Home in Louisville and the sisters gathered to say farewell and wish me well.
I have now been at Nazareth Home for several months and am filled with gratitude for all that I have been offered. Each day I remember the Sisters who had the foresight to build and open Nazareth Home in the 1970’s. I wonder if they could have ever imagined how Nazareth Home would continue to develop and grow over the years.
Nazareth Home operates under the same values of the early Sisters - spirituality, excellence, respect, compassion and cooperation. The daily activities are enriching. Daily mass is offered in the chapel. During the first Mass I attended here, they sang the refrain of a song that has stayed with me - “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love Him.” I would have never imagined that I would be living at Nazareth Home, but I now believe that this is part of God’s overall plan for my life.
I enjoy going to the “Cheers” room where we have many activities. Story-tellers and artists entertain us. I am most touched by the musicians who come to share their talent. The musicians remind me of my early days in school when the Sisters taught Ward music. In those early years, they instilled in me an appreciation for the beauty of music and what it means in my life.
I realize now that living at Nazareth Home is my ministry today. As so many have told me, I have a gift for cheering people up. I guess that goes back to my days as a cheerleader at Sacred Heart School in Memphis! Helping others truly is good for my soul too.
I am filled with gratitude for the SCNs who have been and are part of Nazareth Home. We have an opportunity to be with people during times that are full of joy, as they come here to recuperate and then return home. We are also with people during times of sorrow, as we surround others with love and comfort as they face their final days. I believe this is the beginning of “heaven on earth”.
So, I spend my days sitting at the feet of Jesus and being open to whatever is being asked of me next. I know that this time in my life is filled with God’s love and am assured of that by the line in a song of David Haas, “Live in my love with all of your heart, as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”
The motto of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth lives on in my heart — “Caritas Christi urget nos” … the love of Christ impels us.