Mother Ellen Marie of Jesus OCDM, Prioress of the Carmelite Monastery in Kew, passed peacefully into eternal life on 3 August 2022 after a long illness.
Born Ellen Marie Quinn on 21 May 1946, she was the youngest of Kathleen and Patrick Quinn’s five children, and their only daughter.
Educated by the Sisters of Mercy in Albury, she entered the Carmelite Monastery in Kew only a few days after her 18th birthday and professed her perpetual vows six years later, in 1971.
Mother Ellen served her community faithfully and generously in many ways over the years, including by helping to re-found the Carmelite Monastery in Florence in 1982, before returning to Kew, where she contributed greatly to caring for the gardens, making vestments, serving in the Sacristy, expanding the library's collection and assisting in various capacities in the community’s Monastique skin care business.
Earning qualifications in accountancy and business law, as well as in biblical studies and Carmelite studies, she made a special contribution throughout her religious life to the administration of the community’s finances.
In 2008, following the death of Mother Teresa O’Loughlin, Sister Mary Ellen was elected Prioress General by the members of her community, and was re-elected twice more, in 2014 and 2021—a testimony to the high-esteem and love with which she was regarded by the community.
Mother Ellen is remembered as woman of many gifts and interests, and of tireless energy, but she is mostly remembered for her great love of Jesus Christ, and for her generosity and breadth of spirit. She was a wise, loving and thoughtful mother to her community, whose devotion and humility in living out her Carmelite life in hidden faith has been a rich gift not only to the Carmelites but to the whole Church in Melbourne.
A requiem Mass was held at the Carmelite Monastery in Kew on 18 August. In his homily, Archbishop Peter A Comensoli paid tribute to ‘a good and faithful steward in God’s kingdom’, taking note of her ‘many acts of individual kindness and gentleness’ and reflecting on the ‘great gift’ of the contemplative calling to which Mother Ellen devoted so much of her life:
There is a great gift for all of us in the contemplative calling. The quiet acts of constant prayer and sacrifice of this Carmelite community is given for the whole Church and the world. Their prayer for us and for those who don’t even know they need prayer is an act of generosity beyond words. Let us acknowledge this gift today.
Archbishop Peter A Comensoli18 August 2022
Melbourne Catholic14 July 2022