More than 175 years ago, the Sisters of Charity arrived in Australia to establish the first St Vincent’s Hospital.
The Sisters of Charity were founded in Dublin in 1815 with a commitment to helping the poor. Having witnessed first-hand the conditions causing poverty, then Congregational Leader, Mother Mary Aikenhead opened St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin in 1834, where the poor could receive for love, the same care as the rich received for money.
At the request of Bishop Polding to bring their mission to Australia, Sr Mary Aikenhead agreed to send five Sisters to the Australian colony. The five volunteers, MM John Cahill, Sr M John Baptist De Lacy, Sr M Xavier Williams, Sr M Lawrence Cater and Sr M Francis de Sales O’Brien arrived in Sydney aboard the Francis Spaight on 31 December 1838.
It would be 20 years before the Sisters were able to open a small hospital at ‘Tarmons’ Potts Point in 1857. A Crown Land Grant and public fundraising allowed the Sisters to open a bigger purpose-built hospital on the current Darlinghurst site in 1870, now known as St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney. Since then, St Vincent’s Hospital has grown and expanded to meet the demands from the public and to keep up with the increasing sophistication of medicine.
With many rural patients travelling long distances to receive specialist private healthcare, St Vincent’s began discussion with the local Griffith community to establish a private hospital in the region to minimise travel and family separations. The new St Vincent’s Private Community Hospital Griffith opened in 2016.