Before 84-year-old Carol Meckler passes away, she intends to write her own eulogy. And it’s not because she wants to clarify her accomplishments.
Meckler, a longtime St. Hedwig Church volunteer, adamantly declares that she doesn’t want any praise when she’s gone. Humble and self-deprecating, the Los Alamitos resident says a eulogy full of flowery words would embarrass her in the afterlife.
When she dies, Meckler said, “I just want people to say, ‘she loved Jesus.’”
In her 45th year of hosting St. Hedwig’s Bible study twice every Thursday, Meckler remains one of the parish’s most active members in many ministries, including the children’s liturgy.
Rachel Martinez, a volunteer cantor, and fellow parishioner who’s known Meckler for decades, said, “Everyone in the parish knows Carol. She’s a mainstay at St. Hedwig’s.”
Radiating positivity, Meckler’s love for Scripture and Jesus Christ has helped her persevere through the aches and pains of age and the loss of her beloved husband Charles, to whom she was married for more than 58 years, Martinez added.
“Carol has a deep spirituality, and it comes through in everything she does,” she said. “She has more energy than many people much younger than she is. Having that passion for the Lord, and having it daily, is remarkable – you can’t help but smile when you talk to Carol.”
Meckler’s passion for truth and pursuit of knowledge continue to impress parishioner Lisa Schorr, who first met her in 1990.
“Carol Meckler is a five-foot ball of faith, knowledge, kindness and truth,” Schorr said. “Her knowledge of the Bible is unbelievable.”
Researching extensively for each meeting, Meckler shares her personal interpretation of Scripture and intersperses personal stories about her family and hobbies. For instance, Schorr noted, “She rode 70 miles on a bike for her 70th birthday.
“I’m so blessed to know her as a woman of faith, a teacher of Scripture, a seeker of truth, and a friend,” she added. “Carol is so humble. She will never brag or boast about herself – but I know she is one of God’s favorites.”
A mother of three and grandmother to nine, Meckler attended both Catholic schools and a Catholic college before becoming a registered nurse practicing at St. Vincent Hospital. At age 21 in 1959, she quit working and married her husband, a Long Beach Navy man who later owned a business repairing valves.
Her first ministry was as a volunteer for the Precious Life Center, a Los Alamitos-based nonprofit organization that provides emergency and transitional living for expectant mothers, and as a member of the Our Lady of Lourdes fundraising guild based in her home
A daily communicant for many years, she said her life changed in 1972 when she invited the Holy Spirit to come into her heart.
“I talked to Jesus as my friend for the first time,” she recalled. “God spoke audibly to me.”
Surprisingly, He told her that he couldn’t rule her heart as she already had a god: Tobacco.
A two-pack-daily smoker, she immediately knelt down and asked Him for help to quit, which she did cold turkey.
“Three days of hell” later, she was a nonsmoker. At a Wednesday night prayer meeting shortly thereafter, she was baptized in the Holy Spirit and felt a burning, insatiable desire to know the Word of God. She immediately purchased a New American Bible and began her love affair with the Word.
Before Meckler was born, her mother had a friend named Jenny who became Meckler’s godmother.
“I rarely saw her, but she always sent me religious articles,” she remembered. “Later, Jenny was appointed by Pope Pius XII to serve on a Biblical commission to create a brand-new Catholic Bible.”
Meckler once received one of those Bibles containing a thank-you letter to Jenny from the pope.
“No wonder the Scripture is so important to me,” she said.
Meckler began offering Bible study at St. Hedwig’s at a time when Catholics rarely gathered to pore over Scripture together. She first attended a Protestant Bible study, then developed her own Catholic materials for her parish group.
“I wanted Catholics to have a safe place to study the Word of God,” she remembered. “I actually hoped someone else would do it, as I’m usually in the background, but I realized that no one else was stepping up.”
Father Quan Tran, St. Hedwig parish administrator, observed that Meckler is passionate about sharing the Word with other Catholics.
“She draws people in,” Fr. Quan said. “She’s so knowledgeable and she’s been doing it for so long that people really respect her. She’s a devout woman.”
Though Meckler is best known for leading Bible study, he added, she attends daily Mass and adoration and is involved in many ministries.
“She’s a pillar of the parish,” he said.