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Sisters of Charity honoured for 175 years of dedication

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In charity: St Vincent’s Private Hospital general manager Cheryl Royle, Mary Aikenhead Ministries trustee David Robinson, Sister of Charity Mathilde Harnischfeger, aged care mission director Julie Walden and Marycrest and Lillian Cooper facility manager Ian Edwards with the new commemorative plaque.

By Emilie Ng

AUSTRALIA’S first women religious, the Sisters of Charity, have been honoured with a memorial plaque presented to two health care ministries under the Sisters’ care in Brisbane.

St Vincent’s Private Hospital and Marycrest Retirement Centre, both in Kangaroo Point, received the plaque at a retirement and hospital community Mass on September 16.

Five Sisters of Charity arrived in Australia 175 years ago in 1838, establishing hospitals and schools to cater particularly for disadvantaged Australians.

They were the first women religious to set foot in Australia.

The two health facilities are under the care of Mary Aikenhead Ministries, an organisation name after the Sisters of Charity founder and led by the laity to continue the Sisters’ work in health, aged care, education and welfare ministries.

Trustees of Mary Aikenhead Ministries presented the plaque to representatives from St Vincent’s Private Hospital and Marycrest Retirement Centre.

Mary Aikenhead Ministries trustee Dr Tessa Ho said she and fellow trustees were “absolutely delighted” to “remember the contribution of the Sisters of Charity” in Brisbane.

Both the hospital and retirement centre were given to the Sisters of Charity by Mary Bedford, a friend of Queensland’s first registered woman doctor, Dr Lillian Cooper.

The hospital was at the forefront of care for the poor, sick and dying.

General manager Cheryl Royle said St Vincent’s Private Hospital Brisbane would continue to honour the Sisters of Charity by carrying on their mission and meeting the health care needs in the Brisbane community where others cannot.

Sister of Charity Mathilde Harnischfeger said the hospital and aged care facilities “started as a gift and continues as a gift”.

Sr Harnischfeger said Mary Aikenhead Ministries’ health care services provided a high level of care for patients “not only health-wise but spiritually as well”.

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