A life second to nun
Whether it was looking after children or the elderly, 100-year-old Sr Carmelita Doyle knew from a young age that she wanted to care for people.
As the youngest of eight, she looked up to her four brothers and three sisters, one of whom was a Presentation Sister.
“She was a nun before me and was a very big inspiration for me and my faith,” she said.
At the age of 19, Sr Carmelita entered the novitiate, and took her first vows as a Sister of Mercy four years later in 1944.
She taught at primary schools in Jerilderie, Boorowa, Cootamundra, Albury, Tocumwal, Tumut (where she had more than 100 students in her combined class of first, second and third grade), Junee and Griffith. She also gave students piano lessons, which she loved.
“I loved the kids and I did enjoy teaching but I always wanted to look after people,” Sr Carmelita said.
After teaching for nearly 40 years, she moved to Young to look after the convent and the people at Mount St Joseph’s Nursing Home.
“I loved looking after the old people and I ended up doing what I wanted to do,” she said.
Although her body is frail, her memory is very strong as she recalls events from childhood through to later life.
Her favourite meal to cook was a chicken baked dinner and she had an eye for fashion.
“I would go shopping tomorrow if I could,” Sr Carmelita said.
“When I first came to Young I used to get in a taxi and go down the street to shop – I actually still have my taxi card!”
She also recalled the time she was bucked off a horse at her home in Uranquinty when she was little.
“We had horses and cows on our property and once I tried to ride one of the horses but I was bucked off so I never got on one ever again,” she said.
As she celebrated her 100th birthday with friends and family in Young, Sr Carmelita said she had no regrets and felt very blessed to have lived a life doing what she loved most.
“Being 100 feels just like any other day,” she said.
“I have my ups and downs but I am very lucky and grateful to have a good mind to remember the many happy times I have had.”
Out of about 800 Mercy nuns in Australia, Sr Carmelita is only one of two to still wear the traditional veil, and she says she won’t be taking it off any time soon.