An Interview with Carol Cusator, A Retreatant for Over 60 Years
All who know Carol Cusator would agree that she is a very lively, inspiring, faithful woman who brings joy and light to all whom she meets. The Carmelite Sisters and staff at Sacred Heart Retreat House have had the privilege of knowing Carol since she began attending retreats in 1958, 62 years ago! We had the opportunity to interview Carol before her yearly retreat in February. Here is a little snapshot of how God has worked in her life through her openness to the Holy Spirit.
Carol first heard about Sacred Heart Retreat House in January of 1957, when she and her husband moved to Long Beach. Our Lady of Refuge was their parish and they had been going on retreats for about 5 years. Her first retreat was in 1958, then she became co-captain in 1960, then a district captain for many more years thereafter. The group used to take a bus from Long Beach to Alhambra with 40 women, stop at Twohey’s Drive-In for the best fish in town, then make their way to the Retreat House for their weekend retreat!
She attributes some of her most memorable moments of receiving God’s grace and miracles on the grounds in the Sacred Heart Chapel, under the gazebo at the Road to Emmaus, and even in the Gift Shop! Her eyes lit up as she remembers a time when God answered a problem she was grappling with for two years. “On my 1973 Advent retreat, at about 1:30 pm, I went into the chapel alone, knelt down in the 3rd pew from the back and started the Lord’s prayer and accepted the situation I had from my heart if it would please God. Miracle of miracles, that was the end of my problem! Praise God, I am still in awe!”
When asked how our mission of promoting a deeper spiritual life has impacted her life. She answered, “I always knew that I would get the right teaching here. I didn’t have to wonder, you’ve always had the best priests, you don’t just pull out of a hat, they are exceptional priests.” Carol’s pursuit of faith continues to bless us. Her daughter, Katie, is now a member of the Sacred Heart Auxiliary, a group of women who volunteer and support our mission.
At 86 years old, Carol continues to come on retreat yearly, and sometimes twice a year. You feel uplifted by her joy just being around her, yet she proclaims without hesitation, “I’m a sinner and I know that I’m just blessed beyond blessings!”
Perhaps that’s Carol’s secret. She believes the truth that she is a sinner AND loved unconditionally by God at the same time. She has mentioned that “the Sisters here are happy and joyful, you really feel that this is a part of heaven. I love this place, it’s my home away from home!” Well, Carol, you bring heaven to us by your faith, hope, and love, and our home is your home!