Centenary of "Brown Nurses"

“Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor”, often called the ‘Brown Nurses’, celebrated their centenary of foundation, a century of love in action, at St Mary’s Cathedral on 13 April.

Centenary of "Brown Nurses"

Congregational Leader Sr Margaret Mary Birgan OLN has long resided in Newcastle and the Sisters have loved and cared for hundreds of the city’s poor for many years. 


Speaking at the centenary Mass, Sr Margaret Mary said, [Founder] Eileen O’Connor said … “To give, to do, to ease pain and suffering- but above all and before all… to love with a great love”- that is the core value of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor and those who are involved in our Ministry.    And, again, in the words of Eileen, we assure you… “It is worthwhile”!


“On each and all of you… I ask God’s blessing. Over the many years it has been you… and many like you… who have sustained us as a community… a community of love in action… the vision of our Founders 100 years ago today.”





Principal Celebrant, Auxiliary Bishop Terence Brady DD VG, began his homily with a poignant personal recollection of the ‘Brown Nurses’.


“As a little boy, I can recall the Brown Nurses getting on and off the 399 bus from Circular Quay to Maroubra Beach at Dudley Street, Coogee,” he said. “I remember being told the story of co-founders, Eileen O’Connor and Fr Ted McGrath MSC, by my mother. In the mid-1970s my path crossed the Sisters’ again when I was working with the then South Sydney Council as a welfare worker. Many of the poorest people of the inner city were being cared for by the Sisters, especially those who were in the ‘too hard’ basket for others.”


Fr Brian Mascord VG and Bishop Emeritus Michael Malone co-presided at the centenary Mass and many supporters from the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle gathered for the celebrations.


To read a media release, click here.


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