Longtime parish office manager leaving

This week long time St. Mary’s Church Parish Office Manager Carol Robinson had to say goodbye to a place that she will always call home.

Carol and Daughters (CMYK)
Carol Robinson (Middle) sits with her daughters Valerie (Left) and Colleen (Right) at the going away party for Carol at St. Mary’s Church. (Photo by Rachel Bock/The Herald)

By RACHEL BOCK | Herald Reporter

Robinson accepted a position in October to be the Parish Office Manager for Blessed Sacrament Parish in Madison, Wis. A going away party was held on Jan. 24, at St. Mary’s for members of the community to say their goodbyes. Caroline Robinson was born and raised in New England, and graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1959. After High School she attended Dickinson State College and graduated in 1963 with a teaching degree in math and vocal music. Her first teaching assignment was in Richardton at St. Mary’s Academy, for a salary of $4,700 a year. After her time in Richardton, Robinson decided that she would like to broaden her horizons and see what else the world had to offer her. She moved to Milwaukee and taught at Madonna High School. After a brief move back to North Dakota for a couple of years, Robinson moved back to Wisconsin and worked for the state of Wisconsin. Missing the teaching profession, Robinson accepted a job which she says was the highlight of her career. She accepted a teaching job at Holy Name Seminary, in Madison, Wis., which was an all-boys seminary boarding high school that had roughly 100 students. The students at Holy Name didn’t have to become priests, but about 10 percent of the students ended up pursuing that route. Robinson continued to teach there for 10 years, until the Bishop decided to close the school in 1990, which was devastating news to Robinson. Years after the school closed, a portion of the building was turned into a 50 unit apartment complex. In 2004 Robinson moved back to her hometown of New England to take care of her sister whose health was failing, and to help with the care of her elderly mother. Moving back to New England, Robinson didn’t realize that her next career opportunity would be right around the corner. In 2005, Carol became the St. Mary’s Parish Office Manager, a job that she never anticipated having for the last 10 years. “Well it was a blessing for me to get the job, I never expected that was going to be my job when I came,” Robinson said. “I was very grateful for that, and the years have just been a dream come true.” One time, while working for St. Mary’s, Robinson offered to watch Father Biju’s pet dog Coco while he was gone on vacation in India. When Father Biju returned from his month long trip, Coco didn’t want to go back to living with Father. Eventually Father Biju presented Carol with a piece of paper gifting Coco back to Carol. Coco has lived with Robinson ever since. Coco has also been a mainstay at the office during Robinson’s time at the church, greeting visitors politely as they came into the office.  While Robinson was living in New England, she was influential in starting the New England Community Grocery Store. When Robinson first moved back to New England the grocery store had just closed. She was part of the 12 member group that was significant in starting the New England Co-Op Grocery Store that was opened in December of 2006. “I feel very good about what we have accomplished,” Robinson said. After the death of her sister and her mother, both who she originally moved back for to take care of, Robinson started wondering what the future had in store for her. After four years of prayers and soul searching, October Robinson received her answer this past October. Carol attended a Stewardship Convention in Chicago, Ill., this past October, and while she was there she thought to herself that since she is so close to Madison she should stop there for a couple of days after the convention before heading back to North Dakota. Robinson didn’t know it at the time, but the change in her travel plans was going to be more than a change in her travel itinerary. The change was going to lead her back to Wisconsin, and on to her next journey in life. “It was pretty amazing because when I was going to Chicago for a convention, I had no thought of going to Madison,” Robinson said. “But while I was at the convention I said I am here why don’t I go to Madison for a couple of days. While in Madison, Robinson thought to herself how great it would be if she could get into one of those apartments at Holy Name, the school that was so dear to her heart years ago. On her two day unexpected visit, Robinson rented an apartment at Holy Name and also found a job as the Parish Office Manager for Blessed Sacrament Parish in Madison. Robinson is looking forward to being closer to her two daughters and her granddaughter, and to continue working. Even though she is excited for her next adventure, Robinson will always have a special place in her heart for New England. “It (New England) is home. I am going to miss home. When I was gone for almost 3o years, and came back I walked into that church (St. Mary’s) and I was home,” Robertson said. “I will always find this home. I am very grateful for my upbringing, a little old North Dakota girl from the farm.”

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