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Gentle, caring Dominican


Sr Carmel O’Reilly OP - Born: January 16 1937 | Died: September 24 2020

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Carmel O’Reilly, affectionately known to relatives and friends as Carm, was the youngest child of Patrick and Ann O’Reilly. Her siblings were twins Dominic and Mollie, Pat and her surviving sister Betty Anne.

She lived with her family in Young Street, Wayville, and went to Cabra College from Year 1.

Her first job was working in the union movement but that wasn’t to her liking so she left and worked at Fauldings until she entered the convent.

In her younger days she loved playing tennis (she was a ball girl at the Davis Cup), listening to music and going to the theatre. She made her debut at the Catholic Subscription Ball at the Palais.

Carm entered the convent to become a Dominican Sister on February 2 1956, spending her  first year at Mt Lofty and the next two years at Cabra before her final profession.

The night before she entered she had her friends over to Young Street for dinner. At the end of the meal she went into her bedroom, put on her black dress and veil and came out – her friends roared with laughter!

In the 70s and 80s Carm developed as a professional educator, going into specialist fields as a teacher to the hearing and speech impaired with skills in sign language and special education (at Dulwich) and also many years as a librarian and in leadership.

She also studied and embraced counselling with Personality and Human Relationships (PRH), an international method of education designed for people who wished to increase their self-awareness and achieve a greater degree of self-fulfilment.

Carm learned more about herself and was able to help others achieve that same mind-broadening benefit as she worked with other Religious order women and community leaders. She was very passionate about this life skill.

Carm made the transition from convent life to community living in the 80s and embraced it with enthusiasm and joy.

She loved establishing her own home, filling it with love and welcoming her family, friends and community.

She also organised it as a drop-in centre (safe house) for troubled women and children. It was here she was able to follow her interest and passion in her garden and her precious pets which were a source of great love and company. She even won an award from the Housing Trust for her garden and she became a qualified tour guide at the Adelaide Botanical Gardens.

Family was very special to Carm and a great source of love and pride. She loved spending time and keeping up to date with her many nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews and their extended families. Even in her last days she knew and asked about all the family members and she was always positive with her gentle, caring nature shining through.

In recent decades Carm turned into a family detective – creating a brilliant family tree project using new tools that she grabbed with her total being – computers and the Internet.

No lonely Irish relative was safe; no-one would escape Detective Carmel O’Reilly.  Possibly better than Father Brown and his mysteries, some would believe.

On behalf of our family we sincerely thank the dedicated staff at Calvary Flora McDonald for all the love and care you showed to Carm in her time there.

To the staff at Mary Potter hospice we are forever grateful for the gentle and graceful  environment you provided to Carmel to allow her such a dignified, respectful and peaceful last few days.

Thank you also to Sister Bernadette Kiley for her endless love, support and guidance to Carm and her family. We thank the whole Dominican community for being part of Carm’s family.

Thank you to Betty Anne for all she has done for her sister.

Carm will live on in our hearts and has left so many beautiful legacies. We love you Carm. Rest in peace.

Taken from the eulogy by  Sr Carmel’s niece Liz Murphy.


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