Jackowski, Karol 1946(?)–

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Jackowski, Karol 1946(?)–

(Karol A. Jackowski)


Born c. 1946, in East Chicago, IN; daughter of Henry (a baker) and Shirley Jackowski. Education: St. Mary's College (South Bend, IN), B.A., 1969; University of Notre Dame, M.A., 1974; New York University, Ph.D.


Home—New York, NY. E-mail—[email protected]


Writer, nun, television talk show host, and retail manager. Joined Sisters of the Holy Cross, South Bend, IN, 1964; joined Sisters for Christian Community, 1995. St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN, seven years as dean of students, seven years as residence-hall director, and three years as member of campus ministry, 1972-89; Alphabets (gift store), New York, NY, chief operating officer, 1990-2001. Speakeasy (television talk show), host, 2000-02.


Ten Fun Things to Do before You Die, Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, IN), 1989.

Podbijanie Ameryki (Reportaze), Ludowa Spóldzielnia Wydawnicza (Warsaw, Poland), 1989.

Divine Madness: Why I Am Still a Nun (memoir), Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, IN), 1996.

Sister Karol's Book of Spells and Blessings, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2001.

Jetzt oder nie, Droemer Knaur (Munich, Germany), 2001.

The Silence We Keep: One Nun's View of the Catholic Priest Scandal, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Forever and Ever, Amen: Becoming a Nun in the Sixties (memoir), Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Rosie, Elle, People, New York Post, New York Times, and White Plains, NY, Journal News.


(And illustrator) Let the Good Times Roll, Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, IN), 1980.

(And illustrator) Home on the Range: Another Incredible Cookbook, Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, IN), 1982.

Good Cooking Habits: Food for Your Body, Your Soul, and Your Funnybone, Forest of Peace (Notre Dame, IN), 2005.


Karol Jackowski is a member of the Sisters for a Christian Community, an order within the Roman Catholic Church that is based in New Jersey and has no convent. As she told Alex Witchel in the New York Times: "If you're self-supporting, taxpaying and taking care of each other, you don't need that central location…. It's a nontraditional lifestyle, but we still take the vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience." For Jackowski, "nontraditional" means that she has worked as the chief operating officer for a group of four Alphabets gift stores, which are owned by another former nun, and that she has written a number books, most of which have little or no connection to her religious life.

Jackowski's cookbooks, including Let the Good Times Roll and its follow-up, Home on the Range: Another Incredible Cookbook, blend humor and cooking along with her original drawings. The daughter of bakers, Jackowski learned to cook when she went away to school and found herself on her own for the first time. Since then she has continued to collect recipes, always sharing them with friends and the members of her order. She started giving out recipes bound in twenty-page booklets for Christmas one year. Each year the volume's popularity increased until, in addition to her gifts, she was selling as many as five hundred copies. The proceeds went to help Vietnamese refugees. Sharon Sanders commented in the Chicago Sun-Times: "Maybe not in letter but certainly in spirit, Jackowski's books resemble community cookbooks."

Jackowski has written other works besides cookbooks. In Ten Fun Things to Do before You Die she offers advice ranging from finding somewhere to escape reality to making oneself more interesting. Sister Karol's Book of Spells and Blessings has a more religious feel, but as Debby Waldman pointed out in a review for People, it is a "New Age take on prayer."

The Silence We Keep: One Nun's View of the Catholic Priest Scandal is a change from Jackowski's usually lighthearted material. This book addresses the troubles that have plagued the Catholic Church regarding the sexual abuse of young church members by priests. She criticizes both the structures that have allowed and protected such abuse, and the people who stood by and submissively allowed their superiors to run roughshod over propriety. She also offers an insider's historical account of how both the priesthood and the sisterhood developed into their modern-day incarnations. A contributor to Publishers Weekly noted that Jackowski "sees celibacy as a culprit" of the sexual abuse scandal, adding that perhaps "it should not be required, noting that even St. Paul did not impose it on the early church." Jackowski suggests that relaxed celibacy rules would reduce the incidents of abuse among priests. Margaret Flanagan stated in Booklist that Jackowski "makes a tremendous leap of faith by arguing that the overdue acknowledgment of these physical and spiritual crimes will eventually revitalize believers."

Other works by Jackowski explore her individual experiences as a nun and how she has managed to retain her devotion to her religious orders despite strong influences from the secular world. In Divine Madness: Why I Am Still a Nun she explores her faith and determination with "wit and wisdom and insight," according to William C. Graham in the National Catholic Reporter. She looks at the inspiration that can come from religious observance, at the mystery that infuses a holy life, and the satisfaction of heeding and answering the call from God. Jackowski "writes as one who is both holy and happy," Graham observed.

Jackowski explores the personal route she took to her religious status as a nun in Forever and Ever, Amen: Becoming a Nun in the Sixties. She describes the turbulent times that surrounded her entry into the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1964. Changes within the Catholic Church, inspired by the Second Vatican Council, brought about new ways of worship, alterations in longstanding traditions, and the relaxing of stringent rules regarding dress codes, the interactions of priests and nuns, and more. These changes coincided with the social and political upheaval of the 1960s. The internal transitions Jackowski experienced are reflected in the outward changes of the environment in which she lived. She reflects on how traditional observation of Christian life helped smooth the troubles and ease her transformation from young woman to contemplative nun. She also examines how the threefold vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience deeply influenced her spiritual development.

A Kirkus Reviews critic called this contemplation of the vows in Forever and Ever, Amen "the most insightful—even transcendent"—portion of the memoir. Throughout, Jackowski demonstrates her skill with "character development," describing "more than a dozen distinctive, memorable characters" and individuals she has known throughout the years, reported the Kirkus Reviews writer. "Hilarious, tender, and, above all, unflinchingly honest, this entertaining memoir is a must-read" for Catholics and others interested in the religious life, concluded Booklist reviewer Flanagan.



Divine Madness: Why I Am Still a Nun, Ave Maria Press (Notre Dame, IN), 1996.

Forever and Ever, Amen: Becoming a Nun in the Sixties, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2007.


Booklist, January 1, 2004, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Silence We Keep: One Nun's View of the Catholic Priest Scandal, p. 793; March 1, 2007, Margaret Flanagan, review of Forever and Ever, Amen, p. 43.

Chicago Sun-Times, March 3, 1988, Sharon Sanders, "Delightful Cookbook Is Sheer Nunsense," p. 1.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2003, review of The Silence We Keep, p. 1392; January 15, 2007, review of Forever and Ever, Amen, p. 63.

National Catholic Reporter, January 17, 1997, William C. Graham, review of Divine Madness, p. 16.

New York Times, March 26, 2000, Alex Witchel, "Ways to Have Fun: A Nun's Tale," p. 9.

People, April 24, 2000, "Happy Habits: Heaven Can Wait—and Sister Karol Jackowski Offers a List of Ten Fun Things to Do before You Die," p. 92; November 26, 2001, Debby Waldman, review of Sister Karol's Book of Spells and Blessings, p. 55.

Publishers Weekly, February 21, 2000, "Think about Nuns," review of Ten Fun Things to Do before You Die, p. 40; December 15, 2003, review of The Silence We Keep, p. 69.


Karol Jackowski Home Page,http://www.karoljackowski.com (September 22, 2007).

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