The Rev’d Caroline Pearce

The Rev’d Caroline Pearce died peacefully on Tuesday 15 September 2020 in Adelaide.

Caroline grew up in Adelaide, was married to Bill.  They have 4 daughters and 4 grandsons.


Archbishop Geoff Smith sent this message to the diocesan clergy:  As pioneer of gender equality, Caroline was the second Australian woman to be ordained a priest (1988) and ministered in the USA and Melbourne. Her ministry in parishes in the Diocese of Adelaide included Stirling, Broadview, Enfield and Parkside as well as four years as an Area Dean.  Caroline was also a Leader of the St Oswald Centre for Spirituality and has been described as a wonderful Spiritual Director; a priest full of love, compassion and wisdom. Please pray for Bill and their family at this difficult time.

May Caroline rest in peace and rise in glory!

Among others I had no idea Caroline had been suffering from dementia for a number of years and we are all shocked. Three of her four daughters came in Adelaide to be with their father and help arrange the funeral by contacting friends and colleagues, held at the Pearce’s present parish church, St John’s Halifax Street, on Thursday 1 October at 10am. Lesley McLean


She’s particularly significant to MOW as she took herself off to the US leaving after the first MOW conference in Sydney in 1985 to study for ordination and was ordained there, before returning to Melbourne where she was, initially, only allowed to function as a deacon. Elaine Lindsay


Caroline always greeted people with such a warm smile – genuine kindness flowed from her. She was the kind of person whom I instinctively trusted – she will, I am sure, be sorely missed.  May the angels lead her into paradise.                  Pirrial Clift

Although I did not know her, like so many of us ordained women, I am grateful for her courage and fortitude to follow God’s call on her life to ordination to the priesthood, and as a consequence pave the way for the rest of us.  In praise to God for her life and service to our Lord, and with heartfelt thanks, Rev’d Lu Piper.


I am so very sad to receive this news and my deepest sympathy to her family. I am pleased I have her photograph at my own priesting in Bathurst where she had come as a friend of Rev Phoebe McFarlin being Priested at the same time. She made a big impact on friends of mine staying at the same motel for the same event. She will be greatly missed. Anne Turner

Here is Caroline at a MOW national network meeting in 1989 in Melbourne –

left to right: ? name, Adelaide convenor, Kathleen Toal, Diane Heath, Lesley McLean, Patricia Brennan, Caroline Pearce, Sue Hiatt (one of the Philadelphia 11 then working in Melbourne), Susan Sandford, Janet Nelson, Barbara Matthews.


Author: Lesley Mclean