Carol Bialock

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Carol Bialock
Born (1928-06-28) June 28, 1928 (age 95)
Saint Louis, Missouri
CitizenshipUnited States
  • Bachelor's degree in English and Philosophy
  • M.A. in English
  • M.A. Pastoral ministry
Alma mater
  • Maryville College
  • Saint Louis University
  • Seattle University
  • Poet
  • Educator
  • Author
  • Harry Louis Bialock (father)
  • Julia Gammons (mother)

Sister Carol Bialock was a part of the Society of the Sacred Heart for 92 years, was a published poet, an educator, and was motivated for her passion of serving the needy. Living in Chile she served many miners from Copiapo. In addition to serving others she attended the United Nations World Conference on Women, 1995.

Early Life

Carol Duchesne Bialock was born on June 28, 1928 in Saint Louis, Missouri, to Julia Gammons and Harry Louis Bialock. She was the oldest of her two siblings, she had a younger brother and sister. After Carol's mother Julia gave birth to Carol's sister, the mother began to suffer from cerebral hemorrhage. This caused her family to decide to send both her and her younger brother to boarding school.[1] She explained that during her adolescent years she was never exposed to religion, but it was not until she was inspired by a talk the Presbyterian minister gave that began her journey. She attended Academy of Sacred Heart in St. Charles when she became a missionary and started believing in God. Additionally, being at a Sacred Heart School she was greatly impacted and influenced by Philippine Duchesne, that she added Duchesne as her middle name.[2]


Once Carol had finished with high school she then attended Maryville College, where as a Junior and Senior in college she enrolled in many honor courses. In 1949 Carol graduated from Maryville with a bachelor's degree in English and Philosophy. That same year Carol graduated from college she found her calling as being part of the society of the Sacred Heart. Depict that Carol faced many challenges about that not being her path for her, on August 15,1952 she made her vows. She was a studious person who decided to keep on studying.

For over the next 15 years she grew an abundance of love for teaching junior high and highschool students at the Academy of Sacred Heart. Still being young, Sister Carol most struggled with disciplining the students. As time went on she gained the ability to apply discipline on students.[3]

Living in Chile

In 1968, Sister Carol travelled to Chile because she felt a call to travel and help the most needy. For the next 17 years, she worked as the Secretary for Carlos Gonzalez, was an English teacher, and served the miners of Copiapo, a small City in Northern Chile.

Copiapo at that time was a town full of copper-mining. She began to work with a Parish to form various Christian communities for the citizens to join. Domestic violence in the city was not unheard of; most of the men worked as miners, and would work themselves to exhaustion. They would come back home exhausted and upset, ultimately taking out their frustration on their wives. However, although most women and mothers were victims of domestic violence, many of them would not leave their husbands because of financial and familial reasons. In response to this ongoing issue, Sister Carol would often visit families of miners in order to work with them and help create programs that would benefit them.[1] She would also try to find ways to help the miners, seeing as though under Salvador Allende’s rule, they were being both unfairly treated and compensated.[4]

In 1973, the United States intervened and fostered a coup for the overthrow of Salvador Allende, who was, at the time, the socialist president of Chile,[5] and in his place, emerged Dictator Augusto Pinochet. Sister Carol felt as though the actions of the United States were irrational and unnecessary, and as a result of her shame, decided to renounce her American citizenship.[6]

Back to the United States

In 1987, upon her arrival in the United States, Sister Carol lived in St. Louis, Missouri for a few months, before travelling West and moving to San Jose, California. In San Jose, she became very active in various Hispanic communities, and had the opportunity to work as both a caseworker in Women’s Centers, and as a food server for the homeless population. She was continuously networking in order to gain more people that would join her actions to empower and advocate for women. Her passion was what led to her ultimate attendance of the UN Women’s Conference in Beijing.[1]

In 2003, Sister Carol joined Code Pink which is a movement that's working to end U.S. Funded wars, and also helps find resources for health care, and other life needing systems for citizens. When Sister Bialock learned about this peace movement, at the time she was 73 years old, she explained that she would go and protest but did not know how long she would stand for because of how cold it was. She was a leader and activist who believed that when protesting there is always a way to protest in a nonviolent way. At the same time of being an activist, she taught non violence at Houston Peace and Justice center.[7]

The Bay Area is where sister Carol was finally able to find a place to call home. In 2006 she established a life at Oakwood, a Retirement Community in Atherton, California, for the religious of the Sacred, where she was able to enjoy living with a loving community while maintaining her ministry.[8]


As a young girl, Sister Carol always enjoyed reading books. Sister Carol would write many poems and share them with her family and community. Her most notable poem, "Breathing Underwater", was written when she was around 15 years old, and gained a lot of attention, which prompted some family members to collect all her poems in order to create a book.

On June 28, 2019, Joan Grimm, one of Carol's cousins, published Coral Castles, a book full of the many poems Sister Carol wrote.[9]


In 2014, filmmaker Eliot Rausch directed a visual interpretation of Sister Carol Bialock’s poem “Breathing Underwater".[10] Richard Rohr was inspired by the poem and made the decision to not only publish it, but to name his book Breathing Underwater[11] after it as well, that he included it in his book. Breathing Underwater was written during a time of suffering, allowing for many people to connect and find the right pathway for themselves.[12] For many people this has opened the doorway to find one's own identity by exploring the many different factors that help determine who someone truly is.[13]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Carol Bialock, RSCJ |". Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  2. Byrne, Patricia (1995). ""A Tradition of Educating Women: The Religious of the Sacred Heart and Higher Education". U.S. Catholic Historian. 13 (4): 49–79.
  3. "Carol Bialock, RSCJ".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. Abrams, Matthew J. (1966). "The Company Camp in Latin America: A Change in United States Mining and Petroleum Company Policy". Land Economics. 42 (4): 523–527. doi:10.2307/3145410. ISSN 0023-7639.
  5. Sathyamurthy, T. V. (1975). "Chile: Parliamentary Socialism and Class Struggle". Economic and Political Weekly. 10 (15): 623–634. ISSN 0012-9976.
  6. "Carol Bialock". Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  7. "Code Pink: Vigil for peace draws women to Washington". Newspapers.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. "Carol Bialock, RSCJ".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. "Activist nun releases poetry book on 90th birthday |". Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  10. Rausch, Eliot (2014-05-12), Breathing Underwater, retrieved 2020-05-24
  11. "Breathing Under Water: A Spiritual Study of the Twelve Steps". Center for Action and Contemplation. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  12. Justin (2019-06-23). "Coral Castles: The Remarkable Poetry of Carol Bialock". In Search of a New Eden. Retrieved 2020-05-24.
  13. "Learning to Breathe Underwater". Retrieved 2020-05-24.

External Links

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