Carol Spiegel, BVM, Interview with Nathan Ellstrand, 2022


Sister Carol Spiegel, BVM, 2022 (Photo contributed by interviewee)

Interview Transcript


Carol Spiegel, BVM, Interview with Nathan Ellstrand, 2022


Session 1 of 2
Sister Carol Spiegel, BVM, is interviewed by Nathan Ellstrand. In part 1 of the two-part interview, she discusses her decision to enter religious life and choice to enter the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs) specifically. Her choice of the BVMs was influenced by her aunts that belonged to the order and articles she read in Vista, the BVMs’ publication. She talks about her studies to become a math teacher and her growing interest in theology.

Spiegel also discusses the changes in the time of Vatican II and the social justice movements occurring in the 1960s. She describes the daily routines and recreation of the BVMs studying and living in the Scholasticate.

Session 2 of 2
In part two of the interview of Sister Carol Spiegel, BVM by Nathan Ellstrand, Spiegel talks about how the quality liberal arts education she received at Mundelein College built a foundation for her to teach a variety of subjects during her career. Specifically, she remembers a World Literature course that continues to be relevant in her life and an art class taught by Sister Blanche Marie Gallagher, BVM. She concludes by reflecting on the details that are remembered and those that she’s forgotten.

Content Note: These collections may include language or descriptions of events that may be upsetting to some users.

Date Created

August 1, 2022


Sister Carol Spiegel, BVM was born in 1941 to Carl and Bea Spiegel in Peosta, Iowa. She grew up on farms and in small towns in Iowa. After graduating from high school, she attended one semester of nurse’s training and worked another semester as a filing clerk before joining the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs) in 1960. The day after taking her first vows in 1962, Spiegel went to Mundelein College to begin her studies. She spent two and a half years at Mundelein, where she majored in math with a minor in English, with the goal of teaching high school math. She graduated in 1965. Spiegel taught at Carmel High School in Mundelein, IL for five years and at Clarke College in Dubuque for 22 years. Looking for a change, Spiegel studied community violence prevention. She created a workshop to teach peacemaking and conflict resolution through children’s literature, which she taught in several schools in Twin Cities, Minnesota 1998-2006. She also served in BVM leadership for nine years before returning to teaching at St. Catherine- St. Lucy Catholic School in Oak Park, IL. She retired from teaching in 2022.

Interviewer Biography

Nathan Ellstrand holds a PhD in History from Loyola University Chicago. Ellstrand studies twentieth-century transnational political and religious history between the United States and Latin America. His recently finished dissertation is titled, “Reclaiming La Patria: Sinarquismo in the United States, 1936-1966,” which he plans on converting into a book.

Time Log

Time Log for Session 1
[0:00 - 5:00]
Sister Carol’s family and educational background, her interest joining the BVMs, taking her vows, and arriving at Mundelein.
[5:00 - 10:00]
Sister Carol’s introduction to Mundelein, speakers at Mundelein, her upbringing, and choosing the BVMs and Mundelein.
[10:00 - 15:00]
Sister Carol’s time with the BVMs, living in the Scholasticate, being a BVM at Mundelein, and taking classes.
[15:00 - 20:00]
Sister Carol’s Scripture studies, struggling with her faith, choosing her major, her English studies, and Vatican II and changes.
[20:00 - 25:00]
Social justice movements, Vatican II, culture at Mundelein, Sister Carol’s experience living on campus, studying, and Mundelein’s campus.
[25:00 - 30:00]
Sister Carol’s chores and studying, Sunday night dinners, silence in the BVMs community, recreation, special speakers at Mundelein, and Madeleine L’Engle.
[30:00 - 35:00]
Speakers on campus, life on the tenth floor of the Mundelein Skyscraper, Sister Carol’s colleagues at Clarke University, the assassination of JFK and its effect on her and Mundelein.
[35:00 - 40:00]
Sister Carol’s admiration for Martin Luthur King Jr., his assassination, changes in America and at Mundelein, and her experience living in Chicago.
[40:00 - 45:00]
Sister Carol’s student teaching, learning to be an instructor, her teaching career, restorative justice, and prison ministries. Technical interruption.

Time Log for Session 2
[0:00 - 5:00]
Reintroducing and discussing changes on Mundelein’s campus. Sister Carol’s teaching and transferable skills she gained at Mundelein.
[5:00 - 10:00]
Lasting impact of Sister Carol’s time at Mundelein and closing remarks.


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