St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Toowoomba finally begins to celebrate its centenaryPrint
The COVID-19 pandemic affected many, many people in Australia. In the interest of public health and safety, it also put on hold many celebratory events.
Just one of these was the 100th anniversary of St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Toowoomba. (You can read the Story on the foundation of St Vincent’s Toowomba here.)
The hospital was first commenced in 1920, and by May 1921, it was ready to open. One hundred and one years later, the celebrations started to get underway.
One of the supporting images was a collection of photographs of how the uniforms of the nursing staff have changed over time.
The SV uniforms of the past 100 years: Image 1:, 1920s; 2, 1940s; 3, 1950s and 1960s; 4, 1990s; 5, 2020s; 6, 2020s – the NAIDOC shirt. (Images from SVPH, Toowoomba)
The foundation stories of St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Toowoomba
– Mark Copland, Mission Executive here at St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Toowoomba
There are two foundational stories we honour as we begin our centenary celebrations. The first is the Giabal and Jarowair and Wakka Wakka peoples on whose land the hospital was built. We commit to working together to create a better future together.
And the other story is that of this incredible group of women, the Sisters of Charity a group of women who without we simply wouldn’t be here. I’ve been trying to get the Sisters of the Good Samaritan together with the Sisters of Charity for some time and I am so glad we got here 102 years later.
It is no small thing that the Qld Sisters of Charity are with us today. They have not only travelled up the mountain but I know Sr Clare Nolan actually moved a national meeting of ACRATH – Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking of Humans – so that she could celebrate with us today. So we are grateful for your commitment and support.
When Clare and I spoke about this morning tea, I sensed a need to especially honour the Sisters of Charity – but in doing this all religious men and women who have served in Toowoomba and on the Downs over the years. The work you have done has been courageous work, difficult work and work that has created a lasting legacy of community.
My counterpart in St Vincent’s Private Sydney, Fr Darryl Mackie, has a very challenging phrase he often pops into conversations. “The Mission has a Hospital.” By this I think he means we are all a part of something much bigger. We don’t own God. In that sense, the Mission has a Church, not the other way around.
And so all of the hard work that has gone into building and maintaining this icon of healthcare in Toowoomba is part of something much bigger – to reach out and accompany those who are in need of compassion and consolation across our community.
In doing this I would love to recognise Sr Christine Henry rsc, Sr Maureen Parker rsc, Sr Colleen Noonan rsc, and many others who over the years have worked outside of the hospital walls. I would like to hope and believe that the Mission didn’t leave when the Sisters of Charity left town.
In small but vital ways, we work to promote that vision of inclusion and full participation in the community. We continue to build a better relationship with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander community.
We have conducted training of front line staff in the recognising of the signs of human trafficking. We encourage everybody to purchase ethically. We are proud to be leading the country when it comes to new ways of reducing medical waste and landfill as part of our commitment to God’s Creation. As we walked around yesterday it was great to point out the baskets that we have throughout the hospital collecting Easter gifts for families caused to flee from domestic violence.
In closing I would like to also acknowledge the tough and lonely times that come with being a Religious Woman or man in Toowoomba. I know you have felt the distance between yourselves and larger communities in the big cities. We still feel this – but like you have also learnt to use it to our advantage and sometimes fly below the radar of those in Sydney and Melbourne. We honour you for the sense of fun that you brought to our place of work.
The final aspect I honour is courage. This hospital in years gone by has sailed very close to the wind in terms of financial viability.
As you know, work stopped half through the original build when the Sisters cheques were bouncing. Mother Mary Canice Bruton – the first Foundress of this hospital opened the doors to patients before the build was complete.
I am not suggesting we have done the same – but I have certainly witnessed that same courage with members of our exec Team over these past few years. So thank you once again for all coming and my sincere prayer is that God walks close to each and every one of you as we celebrate 100 years of caring for the people of the Downs.