Words from our Mission Integration Manager, Julie Wain

“Today we celebrate the Feast Day of Mary Aikenhead. For those unfamiliar with our history, Mary Aikenhead was the foundress of the Sisters of Charity and all St Vincent’s hospitals around the world. She was, without a doubt, a remarkable woman and her work is something our team is proud to carry on, especially during these times.

Today we ask ourselves “What would Mary Aikenhead be doing amid a global pandemic?”

An excellent question. In 1832 50,000 Irish people died from the Cholera Epidemic. 1845-48 Ireland suffered a catastrophic loss of one million people due to the Great Famine. Hunger, illness, poverty and death confronted everyone. The Sisters of Charity were established in Ireland in 1815, and Sr Mary Aikenhead’s vision was “to give to the poor what the rich can buy with money.” From that day on, serving the poor has been the Sisters of Charity’s charism.

In our current context, the term “poor” extends to much more than the automatic assumption regarding money. Right now many of us are poor of spirit. Vulnerability is seen in each of us as we hope for many things:

We hope:
• to stay well to support ourselves and our families
• to be able to manage work with remote schooling for our kids
• to be allowed to visit our aged parents in isolated aged care
• to eventually meet our new grandchildren
• to be productive amidst the isolation
• to see a vaccine emerge
• to see an end to the uncertainty

Money can’t buy what we need right now but what we have in spades is hope.

Mary Aikenhead gave hope and comfort to those in need 200 years ago. Her legacy is alive and well in the spirit and hearts of our team as we deliver our best to our patients and colleagues. Our good care is a source of hope, and we hope it is felt by our community.

Today, each of our patients has received a Mary Aikenhead meal tray card with the inscription:

“I comforted the widow, I was an eye to the blind, a foot to the lame, to the poor I was a mother.” (Job 29:14, 16)

Never in our working lives have we seen our patients separated from their loved ones like they are this week. We are hearing beautiful stories of staff being, not only frontline carers but friendly, gentle (and fun) companions to our sick patients.

This is our mission in action.”