Sr Margaret Fitzgerald: A Sister of Charity presence

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In reflecting on “then and now,” my journey has gone from 35 plus years in education to 21 years in health.

As Sr Clare said in 1995, when introducing me to the then-Director of Nursing at St Vincent’s Hospital, “Margaret has seen the light and joined health!”

At the end of 2012, in concluding full-time roles since profession in 1964, the last being at Outreach, it was decided I would cut back to part-time ministry.

My new role was negotiated with the Manager Sub Acute & Allied Health, St Vincent’s Health Network, to support the mission, values, and vision of SVHA by being a Sister of Charity presence, initially at St Joseph’s Hospital, Auburn. The role was two to three days a week, with flexibility, enabling attendance at special celebrations.

During 2014, I was also asked if I would take on a similar role at the Mater Private Hospital, North Sydney, one day a week, which happened in 2015.

I soon discovered these are two very different hospitals.

Firstly, St Joseph’s, a public hospital, founded by the Sisters of Charity in 1886, when the Sisters established a “consumptive” hospital at Parramatta, as a branch of St Vincent’s. Six years later it was transferred to Auburn.

The Mater was founded by the Sisters of Mercy North Sydney, in 1906, with its own history, culture, and heritage. In 2001, the Mater Hospital became part of St Vincent’s & Mater Health Sydney, which today sits under St Vincent’s Health Australia, founded by the Sisters of Charity, now under the direction of Mary Aikenhead Ministries.

This was not only a new role within both hospitals, but, for me, as well.

At St Joseph’s I was formally introduced at the staff forum, followed by a tour of the departments. At the Mater, I was welcomed by the Sisters of Mercy Congregational Leader & Council at an afternoon tea with the hospital executive.

The first challenge I encountered was that I had time whereas staff members were very busily involved in their work.

Maybe I was a threat to some, who were wondering why I was there. I soon realised I needed to go gently, walk the corridors, smile, in order to build rapport, trust, and relationships with staff at all levels.

Being a Sister of Charity, it has been important for me to get to know the Sisters of Mercy, who attend Mass there, to respect and understand their story, history, and heritage, as well as to work with the Mission Integration Manager to share the story, history and heritage of Mary Aikenhead, and our first five Sisters.

In both hospitals I’ve participated in meetings, functions, workshops, “missionings,” feast days, pilgrimages, and planning days etc. No two days are the same. Over time, through being a listening presence, trust and confidence have developed.

Sisters in Ministry

THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
When we have so much to praise the Lord for, we must not complain.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
True affection is to rejoice in the happiness of our dear ones. Never allow a sentiment of resentment to enter into our hearts.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
Pray, reflect and consult – and may the divine spirit direct all to God’s greater glory.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
May our dear Lord Jesus fill your hearts with His own love. Amen!
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
We must have patience with others as He has patience with us.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
Under every difficulty try to pray fervently.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
We have much to thank Him for, even for those little drawbacks on our comforts and conveniences.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
Do pray that justice may be accomplished in peace and that truth may prevail.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
Go on now as steadily as you can, relying on the Divine assistance and fear not.
THE WISDOM OF MARY AIKENHEAD
What we do ought to be done well.

The Sisters of Charity acknowledge the First Peoples and traditional custodians of this land where we live. We respect, value and honour their history, culture and spirituality. We are committed to standing in solidarity and to actively working for justice, peace and harmony in this land.

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