Flora Elaine Carroll was born at Ballina on November 4, 1913. She was the sixth of eight children born to John and Elizabeth (nee McDonald) Carroll and early in life was known as Florette to avoid confusion with her aunt Flora who, it seems, was a virtual member of the Carroll household.
In her early years, Florette lived for a time in Toowong, Brisbane, until the family transferred to Clovelly and finally Five Dock in New South Wales. Her primary education was in the public school and Domremy College, both in Five Dock. Her secondary education continued at Fort Street Girls High School.
It was a visit to her aunt, Good Samaritan Sister Mary Rita Carroll, in 1932 that appears to have influenced the course of Florette’s life. On June 3 that year she joined the Good Samaritan Novitiate at Pennant Hills where she was given the religious name of Sister Mary Dolores.
Following a period of study leading to registration as a teacher, Dolores embarked on a long period of some 45 years in the ministry of education. This took her to secondary schools in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland, and included eight years in Tokyo and Sasebo, Japan.
Dolores was the foundation principal in coeducational secondary colleges in Ayr (1945), Toowoomba (1956) and Kingaroy, (1964), combining the role of principal with classroom teaching in several of her times as principal.
From her earliest teaching years, Dolores was vitally involved in the Catholic Action Movement and many of her former students recall her encouragement to exercise social responsibility through their participation in Young Catholic Students groups.
In 2001 some of Sister Mary Dolores’s former students offered their reminiscences of student days in an article “Hello Dolly – The Inside Story” published in a parish magazine. One wrote: “Even at what seemed like 4’11”, Sister Dolly was always a towering presence in the lives of the school pupils for whom she was responsible”.
In 1979, Dolores was appointed as a religious missionary worker in Japan for an initial period of two years. After six years of ministry amongst the people of Japan in the hostel for young women studying at university in Tokyo and teaching in Seiwa in Sasebo, Dolores returned to Australia in 1986.
Following her return to Australia from Japan in 1986, Dolores moved between the parishes of Grovely and Mitchelton in her ministry as parish associate. She also engaged in teaching Japanese in several Catholic secondary Colleges until 2006. After a brief sojourn at Lourdes Hill, Dolores moved to MaryCrest Hostel, Kangaroo Point in May 2007. Here she was a much-loved pastoral presence amongst the residents until she died peacefully, aged 101 years.
Dolores lived life to the full. Only a few weeks before she died she attended the 50-year celebrations of the new Catholic Church at Mitchelton, where she was welcomed back by many of the friends she had made there.
She was a great and efficient organiser, supporting those with whom she worked in any way she could with words of wisdom, advice and practical help. She took great pride in all she did, whether it was hand-painting a birthday card or learning Spanish at 100 years of age. Dolores was an avid communicator and until her sight began to fail, she wrote long, interesting letters to family and friends.
Dolores had a deep faith and trust in God’s love for her. In an interview with journalist Denis Watt for South Burnett Online, Delores reflecting on life said, “My journey has been filled with wonder and mystery, taking me to places near and far. I have been blessed by God and the Order – spiritually, educationally and socially. Of course there have been ups and downs but as the musicians say, it’s the discords that make the harmony”.
As the years passed and as those around her went home to their God, she would often remark that she was ready to go home to God “in God’s time”. Dolores died peacefully on August 4, 2015.
Sister Dolores Carroll is remembered with love and gratitude by her extended family, many friends and her Good Samaritan Sisters.