by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Dorothy Gale said it first in “The Wizard of Oz,” but it applies to Susan Carroll just as well: There’s no place like home.
She’s been to Rome five times, Ireland twice, and to Portugal, France and Germany at least once — nice places all.
Now that Carroll has retired from her position with the archdiocese, however, there’s no place she’d rather be than at home on Tauromee Street in Kansas City, Kan.
“I have lived on the same block almost my entire life,” said Carroll, a member of Cathedral of St. Peter Parish and former director of archdiocesan administrative services and human resources. “Always, an important thing for me was coming home. The best way I can describe my retirement is to say that I’m going home, and that fills me with a great sense of joy and peace, as it always has.”
Carroll’s last day on the job was March 20 — Holy Thursday. It was an appropriate day of departure for a person Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann once described as a “foot washer,” a person who has spent her 32 years at the chancery in humble service.
The archbishop also lauded her “organizational skills, keen intellectual abilities, and people skills.”
“She is a person who, if asked to get a task done — whatever that task was — you could be confident that it would get accomplished and done well,” said Archbishop Naumann. “She has a great ability to follow through even difficult and complicated responsibilities.”
Msgr. Thomas Tank, archdiocesan vicar general, also praised Carroll’s three decades of service, which spanned the administration of three archbishops.
“So much of her work has been behind the scenes, and therefore is not quite as evident as others, but nevertheless was very crucial to the services provided through the archdiocese,” said Msgr. Tank.
“Susan has a real sense of ministry, a real sense of a vocation — of service to the church,” he added, “and she has manifested that with a very generous and gentle spirit throughout her years of service.”
Carroll can trace the beginning of her archdiocesan career to a friendship established while she was a student at Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kan. After graduation, she worked in the research library at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, Mo. She eventually left that job after marrying to raise a family.
During those years, however, she kept in touch with Sister Damian Boeding, OSB, a former Donnelly teacher. When Carroll’s children were well into grade school, she got a call from Sister Damian.
“She knew my children were growing, so she called to see if I would come in and help her in the Call to Share office at the chancery,” said Carroll. “I came, I turned around, and now it’s 32 years later. And I’ve done a little bit of everything.”
Eventually, she directed the Archbishop’s Call to Share program. She was appointed as the first director of administrative services and human resources in the history of the archdiocese.
When the church in the United States was first facing scandal in the wake of revelations of sexual misconduct, Carroll helped launch and administer the Virtus program and became the Safe Environment coordinator for the archdiocese. In part, due to her efforts, the archdiocese has passed every Dallas charter compliance audit held. She also led the establishment of the As For Me and My House anti-pornography program, which is now being implemented by other dioceses across the country.
A large part of her work as assistant to the archbishop and to the archdiocesan chief executive officer has been “other duties as directed.” These have included the coordination of special events like the Jubilee 2000/150th anniversary celebration, the installation of Archbishops James P. Keleher and Joseph F. Naumann, and numerous archdiocesan pilgrimages to holy sites around the world.
And of course, there were the myriad mundane tasks — such as making sure the parking lot was clear of snow and that the wastebaskets were emptied.
There has been a lot of change in the chancery over Carroll’s 32-year tenure. The chancery moved from 2220 Central to 12615 Parallel Parkway. A lot of people have come and gone, and technology has played an increasing role in every ministry.
The basics, however, haven’t changed.
“The needs of the people of the archdiocese are basically always the same: to be led with integrity to the fullness of their faith life in the Catholic Church,” she said.
“The ministries have been enhanced and grown, but the basic Call to Share Prayer and Study, from way back in 1975, still speaks the voice of the church and the people in the pews,” she said. “The ministries still surround those needs expressed by the people.”
Carroll has a busy retirement planned, most of it centered on her family. She and her husband Mike plan to travel a lot, primarily to visit their children and grandchildren in other states.
She also plans to undertake graduate studies in philosophy and psychology, coordinate a support group for women (which was part of the As For Me and My House initiative), and substitute teach in Wyandotte County Catholic schools. She will also continue to facilitate Virtus sessions and temporarily serve as the Safe Environment program coordinator.