Published October 4, 2018
SAVANNAH—Sister Mary Michelle Carroll, RSM, died in her sleep at Mercy Convent in Savannah on Aug. 24. She was 96 years old.
Sister Carroll was raised in Haines City, Florida, a rural town with no Catholic Church. She was the eldest of three children of Phillip and Henrietta Carroll.
She entered the Sisters of Mercy in 1944. Prior to entrance Sister Carroll graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor of science in chemistry and education and worked as a chemist in the Florida citrus industry.
“I was interested in the Sisters of Mercy because of the scope of what they did—they were in health care; they were in education; they were in social work,” she once said about her vocation.
Upon taking her final vows, Sister Carroll embarked on a multifaceted career. She began utilizing her education by teaching chemistry at Mount St. Agnes High School in Baltimore, Maryland.
In 1954, she became principal at St. Vincent’s Academy in Savannah for six years. She invested her time and energy to broaden the students’ horizons to believe that a college education could be something a girl could attain.
Sister Carroll earned a master’s degree in education with a major in administration from Loyola College in Maryland in 1958.
In 1960, she took on a new challenge: the first principal of the all-new Mercy High in Baltimore, Maryland. The school, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, soon became one of the premier schools in the Baltimore Diocese under Sister Carroll’s leadership. The school recognized her as a visionary leader, one who gave confidence to all students to reach their highest potential.
In 1963, while serving as a principal, she became a member of the Provincial Council, Province of Baltimore. Later, the council recognized her leadership skills and elevated Sister Carroll to the position of Assistant Mother Provincial and in 1973, Provincial of the Sisters of Mercy. All during this time, she served on numerous boards of trustees from Loyola College to Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta.
In 1979, Sister Carroll took on a new venture in health administration. She served in many administrative roles: director of institutional studies at Saint Joseph’s Hospital; vice president for sponsorship; vice president for sponsorship of the Mercy Health Services of the South and assistant to the CEO of Saint Joseph’s burgeoning health system.
Sister Carroll explained her passion for all of her life’s work.
“A call to seek God in and through life and work with others is what the call to Mercy is for me,” she said.
In 1979, Sister Carroll received the Alumna of the Year award from Florida State University for her leadership.
In recognition of her years of exemplary work in the field of healthcare, Sister Carroll was awarded the first-ever Eastern Mercy Health System’s Sister Ellen Lawlor Award for Spirituality and Visionary Leadership.
Centered in the principles of Catherine McAuley, foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Carroll was in the forefront of reaching out to the homeless and needy in Atlanta by supporting the efforts to bring healthcare to them via mobile medical vans.
In light of her leadership to care for the needy, Saint Joseph’s Health System in Atlanta dedicated the Carroll Conference Center in her honor.
In 2006, after a full life of giving and service, Sister Carroll retired to Savannah.
Not one to rest, Sister volunteered at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Savannah for a period of time before fully retiring to enjoy the company of the other Sisters of Mercy at the convent, especially with her former vice-principal at St. Vincent’s Academy, Sister Fidelis Barragan. Her love of prayer, poetry and nature were her constant companions.
Sister Carroll is survived by her brother, Phillip, several nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were at St. Frances Cabrini Church, Savannah. Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital held a memorial service Sept. 21.
Donations in Sister Michelle Carroll’s memory may be made to Mercy Convent, 11801 McAuley Drive, Savannah, GA. 31419.