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A Catholic Independent Day & Boarding School for Girls years 7 - 12

Sr Rita Carroll

Stuartholme Chaplain and Sister of the Sacred Heart

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Sr Rita Carroll has a long history with the School. Following in her older sister’s footsteps, she attended Stuartholme as a Boarder from age 14 in 1957.

After her entry into the Society of the Sacred Heart (rscJ), Sr Carroll later came back to Stuartholme to teach Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and Religious Education. She now works as the Stuartholme School Chaplain. As an rscJ, Sr Carroll works in collaboration with the School Board and Leadership Team, providing long and short term guidance for the School.

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Tell us about your education

I had decided when I was very young that I was going to be a nun. After graduating from school, I went to Rose Bay (now known as Kincoppal Rose Bay) for the Noviceship, and then came back to Duchesne College to begin my studies. I was always interested in science so began my first degree in Science. I have studied at the University of Queensland, Macquarie University, and Glasgow University. At these institutions, I completed my Honors and Masters in Chemistry. More recently, I completed a Graduate Diploma of Religious Education at the University of South Australia.

What did you appreciate most about your education at Stuartholme?

I particularly loved my education at Stuartholme because we were taught to think for ourselves.

Tell us about all the different ‘jobs’ you have had?

I have taught Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics at all three Sacred Heart Schools in Australia including; Sacré Coeur in Melbourne, Kincoppal Rose Bay in Sydney and of course Stuartholme in Brisbane.

As part of my role within the rscJ, I have served on several School Boards. I have been blessed with the opportunity to do a lot of international travel, visiting Sisters in other Sacred Heart Schools around the world. I have also visited many communities, in many countries, assisting where I can.

In 1993 I was asked if I’d like to look after the finance of our Order. I think they thought I could add up! (laughs) So I became Provincial Treasurer. I did that for 13 years, up until Helen Sinclair (Principal) offered me a job at Stuartholme to be the Chaplain. I think it’s a lovely job. I work on the liturgies, help with retreats and dig around in the archives. I also work a lot with the teachers in passing on the philosophy of Sacred Heart Education.

What does Cor Unum mean to you?

Our motto at Stuartholme is Cor Unum, which means ‘one heart’. It’s part of the motto of our Sisters, which is, ‘one heart and one mind in the heart of Jesus’. The spirit of Cor Unum is very strong amongst the girls and Sisters. A great example of the spirit of Cor Unum is when I went to a big international alumnae meeting in Malta. It was lovely to move through that room filled with women, some of whom were Buddhists from Japan, Muslims from Egypt and Hindus from India. We all had this common, Sacred Heart Education, which allowed us to interact happily with each other.

Why a School of the Sacred Heart?

Stuartholme is very much a family School. In families, when a child is born, you don’t know who or what that child will develop into. Hopefully like a family, we can receive and accept that child and give them a good education.

Stuartholme doesn’t just focus on the academic. We focus on each individual, fostering her learning to become the best she can be.

Our foundress, Janet Erskine Stuart stressed that intellectual and spiritual development go together. The Sisters were always expected to continue to learn. That is something we pass on to our students today – developing a love of lifelong learning. I love meeting our Alumnae and hearing that they’ve done a second Masters Degree or a Doctorate. I allow myself to think that at least I didn’t put them off study!

As a Boarding School, Stuartholme has country people and international students, all mixing together to form a little cosmos. I think that the opportunity for people to learn to accept difference, to encounter different cultures is a wonderful gift.

What do enjoy most about the work you do now?

I enjoy it all. I get to work in a lovely, friendly place. There are so many interesting people to work with at Stuartholme. I can go to the IT Department and talk about technology or I can go to the Marketing Department to talk about marketing ideas. I can drop into the Science Department and see what they are teaching. I also love visits to the Art Department to see what they’re up to. I really enjoy having a chat to the girls, and occasionally being interviewed for a school assignment. I get to interact with people in so many different areas and on so many different levels. If I want to know something, there is generally someone at the School who can provide me some insight.

Stuartholme is a spiritual place. It is a wonderful place of quiet reflection, particularly in our beautiful Chapel. The surrounding bush land and environment is a place of sheer physical beauty. We teach the girls that their idea of God should be continuously expanding. Everyone’s image of God is different and the aim is to open minds to keep exploring their own interpretation. We place importance on ritual, understanding that there are many things that we do that foster a spiritual dimension in life. We encourage personal faith, inspiring girls to reflect on themselves and their own life, which provides an opportunity for personal growth.


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