Sister Carol Estelle Wheeler (formerly Sister Mary Seraphia) was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama. She attended St. Mary’s Catholic School, where she was taught by Sisters of Mercy, and completed her primary education at Bishop Toolen High School in Mobile. She entered the Community in 1959 at age 22—the senior postulant in her band. She received a bachelor’s degree in English at Maryville College of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis, Missouri; a master’s in philosophy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; and a master’s in education at the University of Chicago.
After teaching for seven years at Mercy High in Baltimore, Maryland, she returned for one year to her alma mater, Bishop Toolen. She returned to teach at Mercy High twice before coming back in 1976 to begin her nearly four-decade ministry at the school. In 1977, she was appointed principal of the school and later, principal and president. She retained the title of president until her retirement in 2013, after which she continued as an educational consultant. Recognized as a brilliant instructor, she was instrumental in ensuring that Mercy offered the highest level of academics. She was well known and respected as a scholar, writer and feminist.