Mary Dominica Slattery was born more than 100 years ago in the mid-north town of Manoora. After attending the local State school Mary went to Cabra as a boarder for her secondary education, beginning a life-long association with the Dominican community.
She was affectionately known as Dom and Aunty Dom by family members, many of whom gathered at St Dominic’s Chapel at Cabra Convent, Cumberland Park, for her funeral Mass on March 8.
Professed as a Dominican Sister on September 15 1937 in the same chapel, she was given the name Sr Mary Carmel and was known by her fellow Sisters as Carmel.
As community leader from 1967 to 1975, Carmel led the Sisters through the challenging years following the Second Vatican Council and helped them traverse times of great change for religious communities throughout the world.
Her ministries within the Adelaide Archdiocese and the wider Church included her years in education in Dominican schools in South Australia and Ringwood, Victoria, and parish ministry in Stirling and Aldgate for more than 12 years. From St Catherine’s Community at Cumberland Park Carmel shared community with her dear friend Sr Monica Redden and was involved in Goodwood parish home visitation; hospital chaplaincy and parish ministry.
In 1987, Carmel took time for some renewal at Teschemakers, a Dominican house of renewal in New Zealand. When Carmel returned to Adelaide she began to develop the life-giving Tabor Program for older Religious – a program (now called Positive Ageing) which continues to enrich many Religious women and men to the present day. What an amazing and generous outpouring of one beautiful woman’s life – totally lived for others, while seriously nurturing her own spiritual life and deep, personal relationship with Jesus, her God, her inspiration and guiding force.
I was 13 years old when I first met Carmel Slattery. My parents had just enrolled me at Cabra Dominican College and Mother Carmel, as she was known then, was the most beautiful nun I had ever seen! From that day until the day Carmel died she remained a most beautiful, strong and courageous woman throughout her amazing 100 years of life.
One of my strongest memories of Carmel goes back to when my father died suddenly of a massive stroke on January 15 1968. Carmel rang me at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and said: “Sister, you must go home and be with your mother at this time – she will need your strength and help in the days ahead.” Dominicans were an enclosed Community at this time and were not permitted to go home. I will remember forever Carmel’s kindness and compassion to me on that day.
Carmel was the most beautiful role model of religious life one could ever imagine.
In the words of her Dominican Sisters, published in The Advertiser, Carmel was “gracious and welcoming; respectful and kind…the much loved, gifted and courageous leader of our Dominican Community in times of great change …”
We have witnessed the passing of an extraordinary era with the passing of Carmel Slattery. How fortunate and blessed have we each been to have known and loved Carmel, Mary Dominica, Aunty Dom, Sr Mary Carmel Slattery OP.
Adapted from the eulogy offered by Sr Maureen O’Connell OP.
Jump to next article