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Celebrating 150 years of the Sisters of St John of God

Each year, Foundation Day gives us the opportunity to take pause, and honour our past, celebrate our present and embrace our future.

7 Oct 2021

St John of God Health Care celebrates 150 years on Foundation Day

While our world is completely different to that in which the Sisters of St John of God were founded, 150 years ago, what forever binds us and will never change is our Mission, our commitment to serve all those who come to us for care with dignity, respect and compassion.

The Congregation of the Sisters of St John of God were founded on 7 October 1871, in Wexford, Ireland. Their introduction to Australia came in the form of an invitation from Bishop Matthew Gibney to help with the provision of health care and education in Western Australia during the gold rush.

Of the 17 Sisters who arrived on our shores, seven were nurses and were amongst the first trained nurses in Australia. Their previous experience in workhouse infirmaries and fever hospitals of caring for patients with infectious diseases made them invaluable to the government of the time and the community at large.

Between 1895 and their withdrawal from active roles in St John of God hospitals more than 100 years later, the Sisters of St John of God nursed the people of Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales through a number of communicable disease outbreaks, such as typhoid, smallpox, leprosy, the Spanish Flu and HIV. 

Their caring and service are inspirational and all St John of God Health Care caregivers feel the responsibility and the privilege of carrying forward their legacy into the long term future.

“Our past informs our present, but our present is even more than the Sisters could have imagined,” said Group Manager History and Heritage Jacqui Sherriff.

“Australia, and how we deliver health care, may have changed dramatically, but the work each of us do every day continues the inspirational work of the Sisters of St John of God and the healing mission of Jesus.”

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