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Brown Nurses foundress Eileen O’Connor is one step closer to beatification and canonisation

Archbishop Anthony OP celebrates with Sisters of Our Lady’s Nurses of the Poor after the official ceremony in St Mary’s Cathedral.
Photo: Alphonsus Fok, The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney.

AUSTRALIAN woman and Brown Nurses foundress Eileen O’Connor, who died 99 years ago at the age of 28 and was declared a Servant of God by the Holy See in 2018, is one step closer to beatification and canonisation.

Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher joined more than 1000 faithful to celebrate a Mass to open Miss O’Connor’s path to canonisation at St Mary’s Cathedral on February 20.

Among those at the Mass was Sydney woman Michelle Climpson, a survivor of lymphoblastic leukaemia, who attributed her successful treatment in part to the intercession of Miss O’Connor.

The task of investigating potential intercessions was up to Australian priest Fr Anthony Robbie, who concelebrated at the St Mary’s Mass. 

Fr Robbie was is requesting further information from the people of Sydney on Eileen’s “life, virtues and reputation of holiness”.

“Always thinking of others in need despite her own severe hardships, Eileen is an outstanding role model for today’s Australian youth, and continues to inspire others to serve the poor and the outcast, nearly 100 years after her death,” he said.

Miss O’Connor was revered for having co-founded Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor, a religious order committed to nursing the sick and poor in their homes around Sydney’s inner suburbs. 

She spent most of her life confined to a wheelchair due to a debilitating condition known as tuberculosis osteomyelitis. 

Archbishop Fisher said Eileen O’Connor made her challenges into opportunities, inspiring and calling other women to be devoted to the care of the sick and the dying poor. 

“This little lady was able to achieve far more in 28 years than most able-bodied people do in 128 years,” the archbishop said. 

“The legacy of Eileen’s ministry of service to the sick poor continues today in the work of the sisters in Sydney, Newcastle and Macquarie Fields as well as through the Brown Nurses based in Glebe.” 

Once evidence was received, Fr Robbie would then collate it and present it to the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints in Rome. 

Following that, the congregation could recommend to the pontiff that Miss O’Connor be proclaimed “venerable”. 

At the subsequent stage, beatification, there would need to be evidence of a miracle through the intercession of the person for them to be declared “blessed” and at the final stage of canonisation, evidence of two miracles after the person’s death for them to be declared a saint.

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