NEWS CENTRE

HONOURING A CENTURY OF MERCY HEALTH CARE

The historic and well-preserved Kenmore building, purchased in early 1915 for the purpose of establishing the very first Mater Hospital for Rockhampton, was the most fitting venue in which to launch the specially commissioned history book entitled For God and the sick: Mercy Health and Aged Care Services, Central Queensland 1915-2015.

It was on 14 November 1915 that Bishop Joseph Shiel blessed Kenmore and this date marks the foundation day of the Rockhampton Mater Hospital. Throughout 2015, many events were organised to celebrate the centenary but the culmination was a Mass in St Joseph’s Cathedral on Saturday 14 November. Bishop Michael McCarthy presided at the Eucharist and he was assisted by Bishop Emeritus, Bishop Brian Heenan and several priests of the Rockhampton Diocese.    

On the previous evening of Friday 13 November, the history commissioned in February 2011, was launched by Institute Leader, Sr Berneice Loch, in the presence of Bishop Michael McCarthy, Emeritus Bishop Brian Heenan, many Sisters of Mercy, author Helen Gregory and husband Scott, Eric Anderson of City Printing Works who was responsible for the production of the book, and members of the Board of Directors of Mercy Health and Aged Care Central Queensland Limited.

The book traces the development of Mercy health care in Central Queensland from its earliest days in 1915 to the second decade of the twenty-first century and it examines the Sisters’ health care foundations in the context of their time and place. From the time of their arrival in Rockhampton in August 1873, the Sisters responded to the many needs of the people of this vast and varied landscape. Education, health care and social service dominated the mission of the Sisters of Mercy. As well as numerous schools and a home for children, the Sisters founded and expanded five Mater Hospitals, comprehensive aged care services and community-based health services. Above all, the story highlights the tenacity of the founding Sisters and portrays an account of the trials and tribulations that the Sisters and staff faced back in the early 1900s and throughout the difficult years of two World Wars and an economic depression.

The writer, Helen Gregory, a former Adjunct Professor in History at the University of Queensland, is a professional historian and consultant in Queensland history and cultural heritage conservation. Helen has written many commissioned histories including Expressions of Mercy: Brisbane’s Mater Hospitals 1906-2006. Sister Berneice Loch paid tribute to Helen Gregory’s skilful writing, to Sister Joanne Molloy, the Archivist, who provided material and illustrations and all those who assisted in so many ways to ensure historical accuracy and the publication of the manuscript.

It is hoped that the story of the Sisters of Mercy involvement with health and aged care will be a valuable and useful resource for co-workers, local historians and many other interested people. For God and the Sick is available in both hard cover ($40) and soft cover ($30) and can be purchased by contacting Sr Joanne Molloy on 07 4931 7472 or email: joanne.molloy@ismapng.org.au.