The day before a powerful and deadly mud and debris slide poured down from the Santa Ynez Mountains into Montecito, 88-year old Sister Pauline Krismanich was sitting at her office desk, doing her work. This comes as no surprise anyone who knows Pauline. Though the local authorities had put La Casa de Maria, Pauline’s employer and home of 48 years, on mandatory evacuation due to the danger of the approaching storm, she worked right up until the evacuation deadline of noon, calmly paying bills, depositing checks, and answering correspondence.
“Faithful is the best word to describe Pauline,” said La Casa Director Emerita Stephanie Glatt at a February 8 lunch in honor of Pauline, who has decided that after being displaced first by fire and then by the debris and mudslide that the time has come for her to relocate to the Immaculate Heart Community’s (IHM) Los Angeles residence. “Pauline is faithful to her work,” Stephanie continued, “to numbers, to Jesus, to chocolate, her prayer group, and her hospital work. Pauline always said ‘God tells you to do the best that you can’ and she always has – she’s pretty amazing.”
The tributes continued as friends and fellows workers from the decades of Pauline’s service to La Casa and The Center for Spiritual Renewal related anecdotes, funny stories, and referred often to Pauline’s penchant for chocolate and lack of interest in vegetables. But there were serious moments too; including many observations about the empathy, patience, and kindness Pauline has offered to anyone fortunate enough to enter her orbit. Pauline’s deep faith and abiding presence at the Center has been a profound and enduring source of inspiration and comfort to the many retreatants who have visited over the years.
La Casa’s Director Steve Jacobsen allowed that there may be plenty of physical explanations why the damaging mud had not breached the Center for Spiritual Renewal’s stone house during the devastating storm, but offered his understanding – simply that “Pauline would not let it into the house.”
Indeed, the historic stone house in the center of La Casa’s property suffered little harm, while several other buildings on the 26-acre property were destroyed or damaged.
Pauline will be missed not only at La Casa but also by the parish members at Mt. Carmel Church in Montecito and the patients of Cottage Hospital, where she volunteered weekly for more than 30 years. Another loss, the sight of Pauline navigating the streets of Montecito in her car – its license plate advertising her faith with “4RJESUS.”
As difficult as her departure is for the staff, guests, and the Santa Barbara community, Immaculate Heart Community Karol Schulkin spoke of the loving embrace that awaits Pauline at the IHM residence in Los Angeles. During the preparation for her move, Pauline has frequently shared her enthusiasm for joining “the 21 sisters who are waiting for me!”
The celebratory lunch ended with a shared circle and a blessing. As usual, Pauline, wearing her trademark rhinestone Jesus pin, got the last word, aimed at the large and loving assembled group. “Christian, Jew, Buddhist… Jesus loves you.”
La Casa de Maria and the Center for Spiritual Renewal will name a fund in Pauline Krismanich’s honor, with the proceeds aimed at restoring and renewing the property, buildings, and programs following the mud and debris slide. To donate, click here.