A nun’s public dance with death, an 11-month waltz that helped hundreds of church members become comfortable with their own mortality, has ended.
But the music plays on.
Sister Carol Juhasz, a pastoral associate at St. Joan of Arc in St. Clair Shores, died Wednesday after a nearly yearlong fight against inflammatory breast cancer. She was 62.
She passed away at the same place where she began her journey as a nun 29 years ago — the Monroe motherhouse of her religious order: Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
“She taught us how to live and, in a beautiful way, she taught us how to die,” said Msgr. Mike Bugarin, pastor of St. Joan of Arc.
After learning she had six months to live in March, Juhasz went public with her disease. She wrote a blog, showed off her bald noggin and invited everyone to ask about her impending death.
Instead of shying away from life, she seized it by the lapels — going zip lining, riding a fire truck, gambling in Vegas and flying in a two-seat plane.
And she did it with the same stream of one-liners she has been dropping at church functions for nearly three decades.
Here’s how Bugarin imagined the popular
, irrepressible nun’s final moment: She’s twirling her wig, bedecked in her beloved Red Wing gear and dancing her way into heaven.
“After greeting the Lord,” he said, “she’ll want to know where to go for the party.”
Juhasz loved a party, said friends.
She also was an eternal dispenser of hugs, an inveterate sender of cards, an Our Lady of Perpetual Smiles.
Through the tears and laughter, church members said the flying nun served as a model. She taught them how to turn a curse into a blessing, a death into an affirmation of life.
“Just being around her makes you feel good,” friend Mary Kuznia said earlier. “She is the warmest, nicest, friendliest, happiest person I know.”
Two funerals will be held.
The first is Monday at 10 a.m. at the motherhouse at 610 W. Elm Ave. in Monroe.
The second is Tuesday at 7 p.m. at St. Joan of Arc at 21620 Greater Mack Ave. in St Clair Shores.
Juhasz, who was heavily involved with funerals at St. Joan of Arc, scrupulously planned her own, down to the music and Bible readings.
And, because Sister Carol is Sister Carol, she also will have a wardrobe change between the two funerals.