Catholic Herald staff
“The Lord has given me a lot of energy and health, so I just give it back,” said the winner of the SDCCW’s 2015 Pax Christi award. “The Eucharist is a very important part of my life, and I try to always keep Jesus the center of my life.”
Carol Landry is a Hudson resident and member of St. Patrick Church, Hudson.
When she was growing up in rural Minnesota, Landry’s family was active in their parish; she was accustomed to seeing her mother help with church dinners and wash the priest’s clothes.
“Typical stuff women do,” she calls it.
Landry went to Catholic school and discerned the religious life before realizing it was not her calling.
Trained as a nurse, she married her late husband, John, and worked as a surgical nurse until after the birth of their first child.
The Landrys moved to Hudson from Golden Valley, Minnesota, a Minneapolis suburb, as a young family.
They had five children, two of whom were adopted; the family now includes 13 grandchildren and one great-grandson.
“When we moved here 40 years ago, our primary thing was, is there a good Catholic school,” she said. Her husband also wanted to get out of the city and face west, rather than east, so they’d enjoy more sunshine, Landry explained.
After arriving in town, they joined St. Patrick, and Landry grew steadily more involved in parish life.
When their kids were students at St. Patrick School, she served in any capacity needed – teacher, aide, nurse, chauffeur, maintenance person, committee member, babysitter, lunch lady – and made herself general indispensable, according to fellow parishioners who nominated her for the Pax Christi award.
In the church, Landry taught catechism classes, sponsored RCIA candidates and functioned as a project manager. She organized bloodmobiles, fundraisers and dinners and oversaw committees to ensure the plants were watered, the church was dusted and decorated, funeral dinners were staffed with volunteers, and much more. She served as a sacristan, lector, extraordinary minister of Eucharist and lay minister as needed.
Landry is currently training with the diocese to become a Lay Leader of Prayer, and she sits on the advisory board for Sogang University, a Jesuit liberal arts college in Seoul, South Korea.
Landry’s husband died more than 15 years ago following a lengthy illness. Her children and their families still live in the Twin Cities metro area; she has grandchildren who attend St. Patrick School, and children who volunteer there. Thus, the family tradition of Catholic education and parish service lives on.
These days, Landry is extricating herself from her many parish obligations. She retired from her final commitment, the arts and environment committee, this spring.
Still, on Tuesday, Aug. 4, she was tidying up the church and placing the last of the funeral flowers from a recent service, one of the committee’s responsibilities.
“I’ve got a couple more things I have to do to be disconnected,” she admitted.
The church hosted two large funerals this week for the four men killed in the July 27 plane crash in Amery. As the biggest church in town, St. Patrick often becomes the visitation and funeral site for larger ceremonies, she explained.
In retirement, Landry looks forward to reading more – she likes books she can learn from, both fiction and nonfiction – as well as playing tennis and attending live music events.
“I like jazz, but you don’t find a lot of people that do,” she said.
Landry was pleased, but also surprised, to be named the Pax Christi winner. She’s never held office with the SDCCW, although she was active at the parish level.
“I just was involved, mostly with funeral lunches,” she said.
She believes all around the diocese, there are other women who perform the same behind-the-scenes tasks in their own churches – they water the plants, clean and sew vestments and linens, tidy up the church, volunteer at the school and work the funeral luncheons.
Landry doesn’t feel she is any more deserving of the award than any of her fellow CCW members, a sentiment that only confirms fellow parishioners’ description of her:
“By her humble devotion and willingness to share her God-given gifts, her light shines brightly, reflecting the glory of God and the peace of Christ.”