New auxiliary leader: 'The temple is key' to strong foundation
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Since she was a young girl, Carol Foley McConkie has had a "longing for the temple." That focus has directed the new first counselor in the Young Women general presidency in her actions throughout her life.
Born on April 23, 1952, in Spokane, Wash., to Williams and Joanne W. Foley, she was just a toddler when missionaries knocked on her parents' door in Wilmington, Del., introducing her family to the gospel.
"As those two missionaries stood on the doorstep talking to [my mother] she felt a clear impression that if she listened to their message her life would be blessed. ... It was very clear — she felt prompted to invite them back when my father could be there."
The missionaries returned and her parents embraced the teachings of the gospel — despite opposition and having to make changes to their lifestyle — and were baptized six months later.
"They felt the Spirit and were deeply converted," she said. "They were firm in their commitment and in their fledgling faith, and my siblings and I are so grateful for that. The best gift my parents gave us outside of life itself is the gospel of Jesus Christ and we are eternally grateful to them."
A very memorable experience she had as a young child was when her family traveled by train across the country to be sealed in the Manti Utah Temple.
"That was a very sweet experience," she said. "I remember what that meant to my family. It was a magnificent experience and, even though I was really young, I remember the feelings I had, dressing in white, and the beauty of that day. That experience gave me my first desire to keep the temple in my life always."
She remembers as a young girl her father teaching her gospel principles as she prepared for her own baptism. "The missionary lessons had had such a powerful impact on his life that he taught me the missionary lessons they were teaching at the time," she said. "I got my training at my father's knee as I prepared for baptism."
When she was 13, Sister McConkie's parents decided to move their family to Arizona where they could have a greater sense of an LDS community. It was during her teenage years that Sister McConkie learned the importance of attending her Church meetings, prayer and how to listen to the Spirit.
It was through the lessons of a faithful Young Women leader that Sister McConkie learned about and gained a testimony of the temple, eternal families and celestial marriage — all while her parents were going through a divorce.
"Everything she was teaching was true and I knew it," Sister McConkie said. "But more important, I saw her example of the way she lived and her relationship with her husband and with their children, and the kind of marriage they had together. Her example meant everything to me, and I desired that. I knew that even though that was not what I was witnessing in my home, that's what I wanted."
That focus on the temple has followed her throughout her life, becoming a beacon of hope during times of trial and as she and her husband have raised their own family.
For years Sister McConkie had planned on attending college in Utah, but upon praying about where to go to school she felt uneasy about leaving Arizona. Although she revisited the topic many times, each time she prayed she felt like she should stay and continue her education in Arizona.
Although she didn't understand exactly why she was to stay in Arizona, she said that she "did know that I was following the Spirit, and I did know I was trying to do the right thing and listen to what the Lord was telling me as I would seek answers to my prayers."
At that time her future husband, Oscar Walter McConkie III, had just returned home from a mission in Madrid, Spain, and was trying to decide whether he should continue his studies at the University of Utah, or if he should join his family in Arizona where his father had been called to preside over the mission. As he prayed, he was prompted to go live with his family in the mission home.
It was on his first day of class at Arizona State University that he met Carol Foley. They dated and were married on Dec. 22, 1973, in the Mesa Arizona Temple; they are parents of seven children. Sister McConkie earned her bachelor's degree in English education.
"The temple really has been the focus of our marriage and of our lives," Sister McConkie said. "We married and our first apartment was right across the street from the temple. We could look out the front window every night and see the light shining from the Mesa temple."
Sister McConkie remembers the bright light of the temple entering their tiny apartment in the middle of the night as she cared for their first child.
"We lived in the ward with temple workers who devoted their lives to temple service," she said. "We were so blessed. It was such a marvelous foundation to the beginning of our marriage and the beginning of our family."
Although they no longer live directly across the street from a temple, the McConkies have tried to always keep the temple — and living lives worthy of attending the temple — in their sights.
It is that same focus on the temple that Sister McConkie takes with her as she begins her new calling.
"It's the Spirit of the Lord that gives us the power to stand as a witness and gives us what to say and how to say it and the opportunity to make a difference," Sister McConkie said. "It really does come as we covenant every week in the ordinance of the sacrament so that we may always have the Spirit of the Lord. We enjoy the Spirit as we are worthy for the temple. That is key for our young women and for us all."
At the time of her call as first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, Sister McConkie was serving on the Young Women general board. Much of her Church service has been in callings that involve teaching. She served with her husband as he presided over the California San Jose Mission from 2005 to 2008.
Family: Born in Spokane, Wash., on April 23, 1952, to Joanne Louise Webster and Williams Massey Foley; married Oscar Walter McConkie III on Dec. 22, 1973, in the Mesa Arizona Temple; seven children: Louise Leavitt (Matthew), Candace Hammer (James), Dianne Bauman (Blake), Oscar (TeElle), Katie Jardine (Griffin), John (Emilee), Marie Nielsen (Kyron); 25 grandchildren.
Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in English education from Arizona State University.
Church service: Served as a Primary teacher, Sunday School teacher, counselor in a Primary presidency, ward Young Women president, counselor in a Relief Society presidency and was a member of the Young Women general board. She served with her husband when he presided over the California San Jose Mission from 2005-2008.