Sister Carol Jean Peterson was born in Escanaba, Michigan, in 1940, entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1958 and was received into the novitiate as Sister Marie Denise in 1959. She received a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Fontbonne College in 1966, and master’s degrees in Reading from Clarke College in 1977 and in Educational Leadership from Marian College in 1998.
Sister Carol Jean served in education for some 49 years. She began teaching at Nativity of Our Lord Grade School in Chicago, Illinois (1963-1964); St. Agnes Grade School in St. Louis (1964-1968); St. Joseph School in Keshena, Wisconsin (1968-1969); and returned to Fontbonne College completing course work for a Bachelor in Education degree (1969-1970). During this year, she lived at St. Agnes Convent, teaching the children’s choir and Religious Education Program in the parish.
In 1970, in response to her request to be closer to her home in Michigan because of her father’s serious illness, she was sent to serve as principal at St. Michael Grade School in Marquette, Michigan (1970-1978). This was the beginning of her transition to educational administration. After eight years at St. Michael Grade School, Sister resigned according to the community’s policy at the time, and was invited to consider moving to Bishop Baraga Grade School, also in Marquette. After interviews and conversations, she accepted the leadership ministry position there (1978-1986). For the year 1986 to 1987, she was granted a sabbatical year, the first half in Matthew Fox’s Creation Centered Spirituality Program in Oakland, California, and then the second semester in St. Paul, Minnesota. Following this sabbatical, Sister continued in educational administration as principal at St. Mary’s Grade School in Oshkosh, Wisconsin (1987-1992), and began St. John Neuman Middle School in the newly-reorganized Catholic School System (1992-2000).
Moving to Appleton, Wisconsin, in 2000, Sister Carol Jean served the next 12 years as principal at St. Pius X School, a member of the Appleton Area Catholic School System. She retired in 2012 and serves as a volunteer.