Sister Carol Schumer, FSC Parenting Specialist, has been teaching parenting skills to men in FSC’s Family Formation program for 16 years.
She entered the Daughters of Charity in 1966 and spent her entire career prior to joining FSC as a teacher and administrator at various elementary and secondary schools.
Sr. Carol is an engaging speaker who is passionate about her work at FSC. She views her work at FSC as integral to her mission as an avowed sister to serve the poor and those in greatest need
Sr. Carol believes in giving people a hand up, not a hand out. But she also knows that one does not have to go it alone when facing the struggles of life.
For 15 years, Sister Carol has served as a parenting skills specialist with the Fathers’ Support Center in north St. Louis. The center’s core program is The Family Formation — a six-week “boot camp” — that gives fathers a chance to develop their personal and parenting skills. The program also helps them to develop spiritually and emotionally to become stronger fathers.
Sister Carol’s past life as a school teacher and administrator is evident in how she approaches her class. She wants the tables in a u-shape, so everybody can see one another. Small bowls of candy are scattered around. And nobody is an observer in her class, even the center’s staff who stop by for a visit.
“Everybody who comes has to sit at the table,” she said.
The men are there because they want become more involved in their children’s lives. Some have custody of their children. Some don’t. Others are struggling with drug or alcohol use. Sister Carol said that while she still gets nervous on the first day of class, she knows that she’s right where she needs to be. She noted that her service fits in well with the charism of the Vincentian community, the Daughters of Charity, which she entered in 1966 from her hometown of Perryville.
“Our charism is service to persons who are poor,” she said. “If Jesus was here now, He’d be right alongside these men. It is a blessing to be able to walk with them.”
Sister Carol started as a volunteer at the Family Support Center shortly after it opened in 1998. She had learned about the center through a Vincentian priest, Father Ed Murphy. Since its founding, the center has served more than 10,000 fathers with programs that include employment assistance and mentoring, a legal clinic and a Fathers’ Rap group, the center’s after-hours prorgam. The center recently received a $722,000 Mathematica Policy Research grant, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, which will analyze the program as a possible national model.
Over the past 15 years, Sister Carol has reached more than 1,200 men in the 85 classes she has facilitated. She tells each participant that there are three key elements needed to become healthy — high self-esteem, self-discipline and social competence.
(Written By Jennifer Brinker for the March 25-31 Edition of the St. Louis Review.)
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