Carmel was born in Jamestown, cherished daughter of Frances Clarke and Ellen (Clark). Carmel was the second child and sister to Ellen Sarah who died at birth.
She grew up in a family where their religious faith was central and was prepared for the sacraments at summer schools in Peterborough.
Carmel attended the Yatina State School until Year 4. The school had an enrolment of 14 children. The family moved to Rosewater and Carmel went to Mount Carmel School which had an enrolment of 200 students. Although lost at first, she soon made good friends who remained so for her whole life.
Carmel entered the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart at Kensington on February 3 1958. On January 5 1967 she made her final profession in the Motherhouse Chapel in North Sydney.
In 1960, during her novitiate, Carmel’s mother died and this had a profound effect on her. She was able to return home to have some time with her to say goodbye.
In 1962 Carmel began teaching junior primary students at Royal Park, followed by many years of teaching in country schools including Barmera, Spalding, Murray Bridge, Renmark and Kadina. While teaching, Carmel taught music before and after school.
She had a great love of all people but especially those in rural areas.
In 1972 she came to work in city schools Rosewater, Hectorville and Bridge Street, Kensington. While working in city schools, Carmel did further studies in music, theology, children’s literature and art.
In 1978 Carmel returned to the country as principal of Caritas, College, Port Augusta. Following this time, she undertook further studies at the National Pastoral Institute in Melbourne and in 1987 had renewal time at Baulkham Hills.
In 1982 Carmel was appointed to Mary MacKillop Memorial School, Penola.
From 1994 she served on various motor missions which included the mid-north mission, Yorke Peninsula and Kangaroo Island where she was made pastoral director in 2000.
In 2008 Carmel’s life was radically changed. As she stated ‘my life came crashing down’ when she suffered chronic renal failure and the heartache of leaving Kangaroo Island. Someone said to her, ‘Carmel, this road has come to an end, and you will never travel it again, but a new road is opening up for you’. This road led her to Flora McDonald nursing home where she faced many health issues over many years. It was here that, after 12 years, Carmel passed away in a community of love and care.
Carmel lived life to the full. In spite of ill health, she squeezed out everything she could out of every moment. She had a great love of people, and her compassion knew no bounds. She was a faithful friend and was always there to support others in times of sorrow and joy.
She never complained of being ill and did not let it stop her from doing many things. In the nursing home she was an active resident seen driving her wheelchair around, purchasing a cake for someone’s birthday, calling bingo, visiting residents, advocating on their behalf, playing the organ at Mass and making greeting cards.
Even in her dying moments Carmel wanted to say good-bye to other residents and asked for them to come in to see her.
We will miss Carmel whose friendship to so many was remarkable. A woman for all times and places.Jump to next article