Carmel was born in Adelaide, the second child of George and Eileen Thomas who created a faith-filled family for their three children, Therese, Carmel and Geoffrey. The family was involved in many aspects of school and activities in the Tranmere parish.
Carmel was educated by the Sisters of Saint Joseph at Tranmere and then Mary MacKillop College.
Professed as a Sister of St Joseph in January 1970, she trained as a teacher and taught in schools in country areas and in and around Adelaide. She ministered in schools in Newton, Jamestown, Port Lincoln and Port Augusta. Carmel had an artist’s eye and encouraged her students to enjoy and appreciate art and to express their creativity.
Following opportunities for study and renewal Carmel worked on the motor mission in the Peterborough/Booleroo Centre areas and then provided religious education in the Modbury and Blackwood parishes. Again her creativity and artistic ability could be seen in her lessons, stories and presentations and even simple things like children’s worksheets. Carmel visited the families of the children she taught and became involved in the life of the parish where she was working and living.
In recent years, when Carmel became more limited physically, she was still active in neighbourhood ministry, visiting people and keeping in contact by phone. After a fall early this year, Carmel endured weeks in hospital, transition programs and rehabilitation before moving to join the community at Kensington. Although her health declined and she became physically weaker, she was able to live in community with the Sisters at Kensington until her death on the day after her 74th birthday.
There is a moving description of death being like a gentle pause between one breath and the next. In the early hours of the morning of November 29 Carmel had a gentle pause between one breath and her next and found herself in eternity with the God she loved and had served so faithfully.
The Irish author and spiritual writer, Daniel O’Leary, wrote in the year before his death ‘I know there is something beautiful waiting for me’. Carmel also knew that her God in whom she always trusted was waiting for her.