Archived News Item

A Reunion 50 Years in the Making

Pictured left to right: bottom row – Marie Ryan (Cootamundra), Jan Kennedy (Wagga) and Vicki Dean (Sydney). middle row – Sandy Smith (Gosford) and Sue Williams (Port Macquarie in middle). top row – Sr Theresa Foley rsm and Hilda Fitzgerald (Canberra).


Theresa Foley rsm and six former nurses from the former Mercy Hospital Cootamundra recently gathered at the Toronto Spirituality Centre to celebrate fifty years since their training and their special bond.


The weekend was a joyous occasion for all former students (Marie Ryan, Jan Kennedy, Sandy Smith, Sue Williams, Hilda Fitzgerald and Vicki Dean) and their mentor Sr Theresa who gathered and shared stories about their time in training. The ex-nurses expressed their appreciation for the solid training given by Sr Theresa, Sr Dominica Sheahan and others.


Sr Theresa trained the close group of women for four years while she worked in the hospital at Cootamundra.


“The training the girls received 50 years ago was very different to how most training is today,” said Sr Theresa. “It was hospital based, which meant that they did their training on the job in the ward.”


Since this time, part of Mercy Hospital Cootamundra has been sold to the district hospital at Cootamundra and it is now ‘The Cootamundra Hospital’. While the convent and nursing home for Sisters are no longer operational, the original building still stands with rich history.


Sr Theresa’s own history in nursing has spanned Mercy hospitals in Albury, Cootamundra and Young; where she held a number of positions including Director of Nursing, Deputy Director of Nursing and and Obstetrics. After this time, Sr Theresa moved to Sydney where she spent 10-11 years in Pastoral Care.


“This was a challenging but very rewarding role,” says Sr Theresa. “I was in charge of parent education, running support groups and supporting separated/divorced/solo and grieving parents. It was part of the Diocese of Parramatta, so I travelled as far as Katoomba each week.”


Upon retirement age, Sr Theresa’s mission took her to Limpopo, South Africa, where she trained local nurses to work with AIDS and HIV patients. Sadly, funding was pulled by the government after two years; however, Sr Theresa stayed for another six years working in the orphanage, providing AIDS education, renovating houses and engaging in church building projects to teach skills to the locals.


Former student, Hilda Fitzgerald, spent one week with Sr Theresa in Limpopo.


Sr Theresa Foley is now based in Griffiths NSW where she does pastoral work for the hospital; working with Aboriginal communities, refugees and asylum seekers.




30 June 2017