Sister Carole Marie Blazina
“As Sisters of Charity, we recognize Christ present within ourselves and the people with whom we minister. Jesus invites us to serve him by serving others,” says Sister Carole Marie Blazina, a licensed registered nurse and a family nurse practitioner.
Through her ministry as the Clinical Director for Catholic Charities Free Health Care Center in Pittsburgh, she is responsible for coordinating the care delivered in the downtown Pittsburgh clinic. All of but five members of the clinic’s staff (all physicians, dentists, nurses, and technicians) are volunteers.
“I love the work. It’s good to know that people are getting the help and care they need,” Sister Carole says. “It is particularly rewarding to watch the volunteer dental and medical care providers. All of them express their gratitude for an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.”
The Free Health Care Center serves people from 19 to 64 years old who do not have health insurance. Many of the clients are employed in part-time or low-paying positions and do not have benefits. The clients using the center’s services represent a large number of Pittsburgh residents who have no other access to health care. With constant rising costs of health care insurance, many working people and those who are unemployed in the middle groups have no insurance and neglect serious problems because they don’t know where to turn.
Sister Carole expresses her motivation by saying, “Jesus loved in a way that welcomed all people and helped them to be the best that they could be and were created to be. In healthcare and in spiritual care, we seek for all that God created us to be in goodness and wonder.”
Her work as a nurse practitioner and clinical director allows her to practice the healing ministries. “It allows me to witness the awesome creativity and love of our God in designing the human person and the resiliency that is within each of us as we cope with life’s challenges,” she explains.
When asked why she is a Sister of Charity of Seton Hill, Sister Carole answers, “Because this is where my spirit is at home.” The congregation’s mission of direct service to the poor resonates with what she believes to be her call from God. She describes the Sisters of Charity as “women of love.”
Sister Carole first met the Sisters of Charity while a student at St. Anselm High School (Pittsburgh). Later, in college, she came to know the Sisters of Mercy. “It was during college that I began to seriously explore the option of becoming a religious. I spent many weekends visiting different congregations and attending workshops and conferences for ‘discerners.’”
One of her initial observations was the sense of mutuality and community she encountered among the Sisters of Charity. At congregational events, she worked side by side or spoke with sisters whose ministries ranged from administrators to hospital nurses, from grade and high school teachers to college professors, from social workers to pastoral workers and lawyers. “Yet, in community, all were sisters despite the diversity of ministry and even of dress,” she notes. “When I entered there were some sisters wearing the traditional long habit and cap with bow, some were in the post-Vatican II modified habit, some were in simple suits and a modified cap, and some in simple secular dress. All wore the emblem of the Congregation.”
She continues: “Explaining how I knew religious life was my call is like someone explaining how they knew they were in love with their spouse—the words are hard to find, but the experience is felt deep within one’s being. There is a graced and mysterious knowing that my call is to give myself, my being, as created by God, totally to the mission of Christ. It is being open to discernment and listening to the Spirit at work in my life, the Congregation, and the world. I know this is my call because my response has led to joy. Not a constant state of happiness; there is challenge, disappointment, and sorrow—yet, I know God, Jesus, the Spirit are present and guiding all. God is present supporting and nurturing me—faithful in all as I strive to know and serve God’s people.”
Religious life is today, as always, in a state of transition and constant adaption to the needs of the Church and world, acknowledges Sister Carole. Traditional ministries have taken new shape and new needs are becoming known. “As Sisters of Charity our mission will always be to reflect God’s love present as we serve the poor and those in need. It is a life uniquely blended in graces received and ministry performed in response to God’s call to charity—a challenge and a blessing to work towards the reign of God as Jesus taught.”