Pauline Marcella Coll was born January 16, 1939 in Maryborough Queenland. She was the youngest child of John and Evelyn (née Smith) Coll. Born to older parents, Pauline knew and admired her parents as they aged. Pauline described her dad as a gentle, strong man, well-educated and with a strong instinct for justice. She saw her mum as an extrovert, very sensitive, and one who loved caring for others. Pauline’s older siblings are Mary, John, Patricia and Ann.
The Catholic faith underpinned family life. The family moved with changes in their father’s occupation and Pauline’s education changed with it. Pauline was educated in her early years by the Sisters of Mercy at Maryborough, Clayfield and Gympie before the family moved to Brisbane where Pauline met the Good Samaritan Sisters at Wilston.
After completing her education Pauline chose to work and enjoy life. For almost five years Pauline worked at the Commercial Bank and crowded a lot into her life with involvement in tennis, singing, Children of Mary, the DLP (Democratic Labour Party), modelling, little theatre and youth group at Newmarket parish.
On July 2, 1959 Pauline entered the Good Samaritan Novitiate at Pennant Hills, New South Wales, and was given the name Sister Marie Bernarde. Following the changes after Vatican II she returned to her baptismal name, Pauline.
Pauline was professed on January 6, 1962 and completed her teacher training that year at St Scholastica’s Teachers’ College, Glebe. She taught primary school in Manly and Canberra from 1963 to 1969. During these years she completed her Bachelor of Arts. It was during this time that her mother died in 1967 and her father died in 1968.
In 1970, Pauline moved into secondary education where she ministered as a classroom teacher, deputy principal, and principal.
From 1979, Pauline enjoyed a variety of ministries, including work in an inter-congregational development project amongst the people of Shalvey in Western Sydney, secondary school religious education co-ordination, adult education at Najara, Queensland, and secondary school pastoral care.
After a year of CPE (clinical pastoral education) at St Vincent’s in Sydney, and two years of school-community liaison at Warriewood, Pauline returned to ministry at Najara where she was appointed Director of the Spirituality Centre. Pauline was a pastoral carer at Carseldine, before spending three years as Resource for Reiki and Spirituality for Life Journey.
Pauline was a dedicated student throughout her life and worked hard to acquire the knowledge and skills needed in her ministry. She studied both in Australia and overseas and gained qualifications in liturgical studies, psychodrama, reflexology, reiki, bio-regional and world education, ecology and world education and advanced training in the Myers Briggs Indicator.
Pauline had a strong sense of social justice and in 2000 she worked with the CLRI Social Action Office for Eco-Justice as co-ordinator and resource person. In July 2005 she was to be the co-ordinator of the Good Samaritan Desk for Anti-trafficking of Women and Children. Her exceptional and tireless work in the early years of ACRATH, Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking Humans, was recognised in 2014 when Pauline was awarded the OAM of Australia.
Pauline was much loved for her enthusiasm for life and all it asked of her. Many who know her experienced her deep compassion and caring support in times of illness. She is remembered by many for her sensitive care and support of the dying. She had a deep love of creation, ecology and theology inspired by the writings of Teilhard De Chardin, Thomas Merton, John O’Donoghue and Peter Phan.
Pauline spent the last three years in Ballycara Retirement Village, enjoying a gentle rhythm of life and engaging with residents in a range of activities until early this year when she was diagnosed with cancer.
Pauline who, throughout her illness, sought quality of life rather than quality of days died peacefully, aged 76 years, in the early hours of October 9, in the 57th year of her religious life.