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Sister Mary Immaculae Carroll

List of Deceased Sisters

Date of Death 22/09/2018

SMSM SistersSister Mary Immaculae CARROLL, smsm

August 14th, 1926 – September 22nd, 2018


Marianne Carroll was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA on August 14th, 1926.  Her parents were Doctor Joseph P. Carroll MD, and Mary Sandman Carroll, who were both born in Philadelphia in September 1888.  Marianne was the second youngest, and the only girl, in a family of six children.  We are told that in her younger years, Marianne wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps, and become a medical doctor herself.  But it seems the call to religious and missionary life intervened.


Marianne entered the Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary on August 2nd, 1945 – less than 2 weeks before the end of the 2nd World War in the Pacific.  She made her novitiate in Bedford, Massachusetts and took the name Sister Mary Immaculae. She made her first vows on February 2nd, 1948.  Later she received her mission assignment to the island of Bougainville, which was then called the North Solomons, and departed for that mission on October 15th, 1949.


Sister Immaculae soon grew to know and love the people of Bougainville and would serve there for more than 40 years.  For the first four years she taught in primary schools in Tearouki and Monoitu. Then she began to train the local teachers in Hantoa and Turiboiru.


After 12 years in Bougainville, she was called home to the USA to make her Second Novitiate in Lowell, MA in 1961.  Before the end of that year she was back in Bougainville, this time teaching at the Diocesan high school in Asitavi.  Those who knew her during those years talk about what a skillful and creative teacher she was.  In addition to her work in the classroom she was a great musician and dramatist – even putting on a production of the Mikado with her students.


Because of a health problem Sr. Immaculae left for Sydney Australia in 1967.  While there she enrolled in the Australian School of Pacific Administration and concentrated on studies that would enable her to teach Science subjects at the high school level.


Returning to Bougainville in 1968, she put her new skills to good use at the Asitavi High School once again.  She taught at Asitavi for the next 5 years, interrupted by only a few months home visit to the USA in 1978.


Over the years, the government officials in Bougainville had recognized Sr. Mary Immaculae’s talents as a teacher and administrator. In 1979 she was appointed Coordinator of the Government Schools.  This involved visiting all the schools in remote areas, travelling on gravel roads, fording streams and walking to distant villages.


Always looking forward to the next challenge, and the changing needs of the people, Sr. Immaculae took a correspondence course in Religious studies in her “spare time” so as to be prepared to eventually leave the schools and begin work in pastoral ministry, which she did in 1983.  She worked tirelessly with the Catholic Women’s Association and in building up the Christian communities in the villages.


In 1988 a civil war broke out on Bougainville that resulted in 10 years of violence and left thousands of Bougainvilleans dead and much of the population displaced and traumatized.  Our Sisters were withdrawn from the island in 1990, and “Mac” (the affectionate nickname by which her Sisters called her) was one of the 9 Americans who returned here to the USA. 


Though no doubt shocked and saddened, Mac’s resilient spirit did not leave her, even after this terrible turn of events.  Soon after arriving in the USA, she went to Florida to join our new community at Rocky Creek Retirement Village in Tampa.


At Rocky Creek she chose an older, single unit that had a large sitting room, so that she could set up a table for drafting and sewing.  A lifetime learner, during her last two years in Bougainville Mac had taken a correspondence course to learn these skills, so that she could continue to do something “useful” in the future. At Rocky Creek Sr. Immaculae became the village seamstress: doing alterations and sewing garments – even a wedding dress.  In addition her leadership skills were put to use in organizing an “Annual National Day of Prayer” for the village.


Eventually, Mac’s health concerns became too great for her to remain at Rocky Creek and she needed to come back to our “home base” in Massachusetts.  She moved to “62” in 2012 and three years later to the Marillac Residence in Wellesley Hills, and finally to the Elisabeth Seton Residence where she received nursing home care for the last few years of her life.  She died there shortly after midnight on September 22nd, 2018.


Sr. Mary Immaculae was an inspiration to all of us in the way she developed her talents and put them at the service of others.   Family members who came to Waltham from Philadelphia for her funeral told us that when they were children she would regale them with her stories and made them feel that Bougainville was the most wonderful place in the world, with the most wonderful people.  She truly loved the people she served and they loved her. That made a deep impression on her nieces and nephews. 


She suffered from various health problems over the course of her life and endured a lot of discomfort, frustration and pain in these final years of illness. But still, if she had any energy at all when you came for a visit, she would make you feel welcomed.  She brought joy and hope and encouragement into the lives of many people.  May she rest in peace now and enter into the joy of the Lord and the embrace of His mother Mary. 


Gratefully in Mary,                                                            

Sister Mary Jane Kenney, smsm                                                                                                                     Sister Virginia Fornasa, smsm

Regional Leader                                                                                                                                                 Communications Secretary