Monsignor George M. Carroll, MM
Born: April 8, 1906
Ordained: February 1, 1931
Died: September 16, 1981
Monsignor George M. Carroll died on September 16, 1981 at St. Teresa’s Residence. He was born in New York City in 1906. His mother was from Ireland and his father reached the U.S. from Ottawa, Canada. He had a sister who died as a child and a brother, Tom, who survives and who was with him when he died.
Only nine years old, he heard a Maryknoller, Fr. Newton Thompson, speak in 1915 for subscriptions to the Field Afar, explaining in his message the foundation of an American Foreign Mission Society, its work and its need for vocations. Five years later George entered the Venard as a first-year High school student, and wrote how kind the other students were to him, how he thus escaped being homesick.
Ordination to the priesthood on February 1, 1931 was followed by completion of his studies and departure for Korea on July 29, 1931. He reached Korea, settled down to the grind of studies of the difficult language. He adjusted to the culture of the people, found his work pleasant and blessed by God. The eleven years of such active missionary ministry were interrupted by Pearl Harbor. He was interned and in mid-1942 repatriated aboard the M.S. Gripsholm. After a period of rest he was in Akron, Ohio where the Society had a small minor seminary, the Maryknoll house being used as a residence while the boys attended local Catholic schools. There was also promotion work to do so that for two active years, meeting pastors, making friends, preaching Maryknoll, he became very well known and consistently received high praise from those who knew him, and they were many.
At the end of World War II he returned to Korea as acting Society Superior and became Group Superior. In June, 1950 he became chaplain of the United Nations Forces. Later, as the forces under General MacArthur swept north and Pyongyang was recaptured, Rome named Monsignor Carroll as acting administrator of the Pyongyang Diocese previously staffed by Maryknoll. He was thus entitled to be called Monsignor. During this time he helped to establish the U.S.O. in Korea. When the Korean military action ended and Pyongyang returned to the Communists, Monsignor Carroll became involved in relief work of various kinds and eventually was the Catholic Relief Services representative in Korea. He was a good administrator. From 1952 he was full-time in Catholic Relief Services activity and had many opportunities to be of service to the needy. He represented the Korean Bishops’ Conference on a trip to Latin America to ascertain emigration possibilities and was a pillar of strength to fellow Maryknollers in his CRS position.
In 1976 he returned to the States on sick leave but kept his interest in the Koreans, especially during his years of residence in Los Anqeles parishes and finally in our own Development house. He was more than delighted when his work – as a Catholic missioner – was recognized, as it was by the President of the Republic of Korea, by KAVA (Korea Association of Voluntary Agencies) . Very special was the Plaque of Appreciation in 1977 from the Bishops’ Conference of Korea for “his 45 years of outstanding service to the poor of Korea and his 25 years as a member of the Bishops’ Conference of Korea.”
As his health deteriorated he left Los Angeles where there is such a heavy concentration of Koreans and settled down at St. Teresa’s. His brother, Tom, was most helpful in those months when he was permitted to take up residence at St. Teresa’s to be of assistance to the brother for whom he had such high regard, and rightly so.
In 1976 Monsignor Carroll anticipated his golden jubilee by five years, apprehensive whether he would survive for the full fifty years. It was a gala day for the family, friends and the Monsignor who was still in good health. On June 28, 1981, when the members of his class were part of the annual Maryknoll Jubilee Group, he had a private ceremony at St. Teresa’s.
There was a wake service on September 18th in the Center Chapel conducted by Fr. John J. Corcoran. Mass of the Resurrection followed the next day with Bishop John Comber as principal celebrant – and Bishop Edward McGurkin as Homilist. Burial was in the Maryknoll cemetery with graveside service conducted by Fr. James Noonan.