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Yumi mas soim long ol, bikpela laik pasin, na paisn bilong stap bel isi. Great tenderness of all things - Mother M. Catherine McAuley - Letter to Elizabeth Moore, July 27, 1837

The health and welfare of people, especially the disadvantaged, has always been a core concern of the Sisters of Mercy. A number of congregations around Australia established hospitals while others provided more informal service by going out into the community and visiting the sick in their homes.

Above: Sister M. Joseph comforting a patient in the Children’s Ward at the Mater Hospital, Newcastle in New South Wales, established by the Singleton Congregation.

At different times the Sisters of Mercy have fulfilled many roles in their hospitals. In addition to nursing, they worked as teachers, orderlies, cleaners, caterers and in administration. The tea-maker on the left was used during meal rounds in the 1930s and 1940s at Saint Anne’s Hospital in Perth, Western Australia. Below: An early photo of one of the wards at the Mater Hospital in Newcastle, New South Wales, which opened in 1921.

Right: Sister M. Jude on her way to visit a member of the community in Goulburn, New South Wales during the 1980s. This photograph has often been used as a symbol of 'walking nuns', a phrase used to describe the early Sisters of Mercy who were visible in the streets of Dublin, visiting the poor and sick.

Below: Nurse educator Sister Irene with student nurses at the Mater Hospital in Rockhampton, Queensland in the 1970s.

Left: White knitted vest worn by Sister Paul Mary and her pocket watch (given to her by the Winton Parishioners when she entered), from the 1960s. Below: Sister Betty at the maternity ward of the Mater Hospital in Rockhampton, Queensland during the 1960s.

Left: Wooden hospital table used by sisters at the infirmary of Saint Joseph’s Mount in Bathurst, New South Wales. Below: Saint Joseph’s Nursing Home in Sans Souci, New South Wales. The photo was taken in 1961 when the home provided accommodation and nursing care for 12 people.

Left: This pillow slip is an example from the babies’ cots in the maternity ward of St. Anne’s Nursing Home Mount Lawley, which opened in 1937. It was the first hospital in Australia where the sisters were involved in midwifery.

Above: Mother M. Fabian, Sister M. Leonie and Sister M. Vianney at the 1962 blessing of the first Home Nursing Service car in Rockhampton, Queensland.

Above: Two sisters and two employees at work in the original kitchen of Saint Anne’s Hospital in the Perth suburb of Mount Lawley. Left: This item came from St. Benedict’s Private Hospital in Malvern, which was the first hospital established by the Sisters of Mercy Melbourne in January 1920.

All food at St. Benedict’s was prepared in the hospital kitchen and served on individual trays. The food was sent to the first floor in a service lift, which operated initially by a pulley system and then by an electric one.

Above: Celebrating a nursing graduation at the Mater Hospital in Mackay, Queensland in 1965.

Right: Mother M. Brigid McDonald acquired the stately home Killowen in Perth initially for St Anne’s Nursing Home but very soon it became a maternity hospital. This tea set is an example of the china used for patients in those early days.

Yumi mas putim olgeta hop na bilip long God – wantaim hat wok, olsem yumi tingting ol samting i hangamap long yumi tasol. While we place all our confidence in God – we must act as if all depended on our exertion -

Mother M. Catherine McAuley - Letter to Frances Warde, November 24, 1840

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5 Health