Colorado native Sister Carol Dunphy, 92, a Sister of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross for 66 years, died Feb. 19 at the order’s motherhouse in Nerinx, Ky.
Sister Dunphy helped establish Loretto’s first mission in South America. She also served in the Archdiocese of Denver for more than 25 years, primarily as an administrative assistant at the order’s central office in Denver from 1982 to 2002. She also served with the Vietnamese Resettlement Committee of Denver Catholic Community Services from 1973 to 1975, as a secretary to the Colorado Catholic Conference in 1976, and social advocate on the sisters’ central staff from 1980 to 1982.
Sister Carol retired to the Motherhouse Infirmary in Nerinx in 2003, where she resided until her death. There she was resident electrician, engineer, plumber and carpenter.
“With her own fix-it tools, Sister Carol could repair leaky faucets, crumbling stairs, VCRs and practically any other piece of equipment that went on the blink,” according to a statement from the order. “Her calm capability made her unflappable in emergencies. (She was) a Denver Broncos fan, she also loved the outdoors.”
Carol Mae Dunphy was born March 12, 1922, in Eastlake, Colo., the first of four children to Arthur John and Edith Louise (Molholm) Dunphy. After graduating from high school in 1940 she attended business college, then in 1943 she joined the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) and worked in a Navy communications offices in San Francisco and Pearl Harbor.
She was discharged in December 1945 and attended Webster College (now University) in Webster Groves, Mo. In 1949, she entered the Sisters of Loretto, the same congregation her younger sister, Lois, had entered in 1941. She was received into the order Dec. 8, 1949, taking the name Sister Peter Michael. She made her first vows in 1951 and her final vows in 1955.
Sister Dunphy earned a bachelor’s degree in English, with minors in Spanish and education, from Webster College in 1952, a master’s in English from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 1959, and a master’s in community development from the University of Louisville in 1970.
From 1952 to 1957, she taught at Nerinx Hall High School in Webster Groves then as director of St. Joseph Residence Hall at Loretto Heights College in Denver from 1957 to 1959, before being appointed superior and principal at Bishop Toolen High School, Mobile, Ala.
In 1960, she was the congregation’s first superior of its mission to La Paz, Bolivia. In 1962, she became regional superior for all Loretto missions in South America. In 1963, she was named principal of Colegio Loreto in La Paz.
Sister Carol returned to the United States in 1967 to teach at Loretto High School in Louisville, Ky. and was principal from 1971 to 1973. In the Archdiocese of Louisville, she was administrative assistant to the Senate of Religious from 1973 to 1975.
A funeral Mass was celebrated for Sister Dunphy Feb. 24 at the Church of the Seven Dolors at the motherhouse and she was buried at Loretto Motherhouse Cemetery. She is survived by two sisters, Loretto Sister Lois Dunphy of Nerinx, and Phyllis Brachle of Denver. Memorials may be sent to the Loretto Development Office, 4000 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Littleton, CO 80123.