Sister Charles Longuemare was born in El Paso, Texas on January 10, 1922. Her parents named her Marguerite Clementine when she was baptized at Immaculate Conception Church in El Paso on January 12 of the same year. From an early age she went to Mass daily, receiving the Blessed Sacrament, and this continued for her whole life up to her final illness. She loved her life in El Paso, close to the border of Mexico. Her mother died suddenly from a heart attack in 1944 and her father two years after from cancer. Before he died, she read the whole of War and Peace to him. This is the “Charlie” we learned to love so much at Wrentham. Other people were always put before herself.
Her life before and after she entered Wrentham was a great adventure, every minute of which was a wonderful challenge. She was raised on a small cotton/alfalfa farm and was an only child, but had close cousins to grow up with. One great passion was horseback riding. She owned two horses, one named Pal, which she would not let anyone else ride. She competed in rodeos, did fencing, and learned to fly a small Piper Cub plane. She was one of the first women in the U.S. to obtain a pilot’s license. She used to hike in the Comudas Mountains, 80 miles or so east of El Paso, driving there in an old jalopy!
She was an excellent marksman with a rifle and shotgun. With her cousin she would go deer hunting in the Mogollom Mountain Range, bringing back different kinds of game. Her cousins were her companions on many of her excursions into the wilderness. She was more like a sister to them.
During the war she worked as a translator at Fort Bliss. At that time the Government was concerned about espionage so she and her cousin, Frances, worked as translators of all the overseas mail which was routed through Mexico. She was employed at several different places after the war, the last of which was American Airlines, a choice she made as it gave her free flights to follow her adventurous nature.
Shortly after her father died she went to Europe, where she traveled all around on a bicycle and stayed in a hostel wherever she happened to be and, if no hostel was available, she would roll out her bed roll and sleep beside the road. She was befriended by a young priest studying in Rome who gave her a ticket to meet Pope Pius XII.
Sister Charles left home on the Feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist to enter Mount Saint Mary's Abbey on August 30, 1956, taking up her very clear choice to be a Lay Sister. She became a novice on March 22, 1957 and made Temporary Profession on September 22, 1958. Her Solemn Vows followed on April 24, 1962.
She loved to work outdoors and she continued to do strenuous work until she was in her 80s. She also enjoyed working in the cow barn as long as we had cows. In fact, she loved all animals, wild and tame. Since she was completely at home with the Spanish language and had the gift of a fine mind, she was asked to go to the General Chapter to translate Spanish to English and vice versa. She did such a good job that her presence was desired and given for many following Chapters.
Jesus was the center of her life. Prayer was very important to her and especially continual prayer while she worked and throughout the day. Her heart would beat in silent love for Jesus in the Eucharist.
Her fiery temperament was at the heart of her inner beauty: always searching and wanting the truth, always “batting” for the disenfranchised, always ready to pour herself out in love for her sisters. You always knew that if you asked Sister Charlie for help, it would be given and with a smile.
During the last two years she was in the infirmary, all who took care of her and those who visited with her left with hearts full of joy and peace as that was the gift she poured out on us continually. Her sensitivity to others continued right up until her death on May 14, 2012. Hers was a life poured out for others and she enjoyed every moment of it, embracing the difficult moment with the same determination as she did her hunting, rodeos, flying, her adventures overseas. Her radiant smile lifted many a heart.