At some point in our lives, when we least expect it, we encounter a person that leaves a compassionate and loving imprint on one’s family by performing a “mitzvah,” which in Hebrew means a good or charitable deed.
In our case that person was Karen Mullens Michane, a New Jersey native like myself who recently passed away at her home in surrounded by her family.
After my mom died four years ago, Rev. Alex Santora, pastor of Hoboken’s Church of Our Lady of Grace and columnist for the Jersey Journal, arranged to have Karen administer Holy Communion once a month to my 100 year old dad, Frank Augustine. It couldn’t have been a better match.
In an email to Rev. Alex, which I was copied on, Karen had expressed her “thanks for the opportunity,” to be of service to a man whom she called “a remarkable gentleman and a true Hoboken treasure.” She enjoyed my dad's "stories of the old Hoboken.” They brought back memories of her late dad, who also grew up in Hoboken, where Marlon Brando starred in "On The Waterfront), and where Frank Sinatra got his start as a crooner.
Karen was truly a courageous and amazing woman—a godsend if you will. During my many visits from California to see my dad she always had a beautiful smile on her face, in spite of living with a life threatening illness.She bestowed on dad gifts of joy, optimism, kindness, compassion and graciously offered a listening ear. He thoroughly enjoyed her visits.
She was a woman of deep faith and as she was approaching what I perceived to be last stage of her life, asked me to keep her in my prayers. I wholeheartedly obliged by lighting a virtual candle and included a healing prayer on gratefulness.org, a website founded by Brother David Stendl-Rast, a Benedictine monk and Zen practitioner I met at a spiritual retreat at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA.
Karen had gone to the Academy of St. Aloysius (my dad’s middle name) in Jersey City. She was one of the first women accepted to St. Peter's University, taught at St. Vincent de Paul in Bayonne before becoming a principal probation officer. After retiring 33 years later she participated in liturgy at St. Joseph’s Church and became the executive secretary for the local homeless shelter. I enjoyed hearing about her travels to Ireland, Scotland and the Vatican City. She also enjoyed goiing to the theater, reading mysteries, and listening to Bob Dylan. I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to her surviving family, relatives and close friends, most of whom I never met. It was an honor to have known her and experience her angelic presence. At the request of her family, a donation was made to the Hoboken Homeless Shelter in her memory.
May she rest in peace!