New memorial to our saint in waiting

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City South Parish Priest Fr Paul Smithers and artist Danny Mulyono stand in front of the new mural celebrating the life of Servant of God Eileen O’Connor. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Sydney City South Parish Priest Fr Paul Smithers and artist Danny Mulyono stand in front of the new mural celebrating the life of Servant of God Eileen O’Connor. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

A site which played an influential role in the faith formation of Australia’s ‘saint in the making’ Eileen O’Connor now has a permanent memorial to honour her memory and help raise greater public awareness around her cause to become our nation’s next saint.

The Parish Priest of the Catholic Community of Sydney City South, Fr Paul Smithers commissioned local artist, Danny Mulyono to paint a striking mural on the grounds of Our Lady of Mount Carmel primary school in Waterloo to honour Eileen on the site where she attended school and Sunday Mass with her family in the early 1900s at the church directly next to the school.

Alongside missionary priest, Fr Edward McGrath, Eileen co-founded Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor in 1913, a religious order committed to nursing the sick and poor in their homes.

“Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP officially launched Eileen O’Connor’s cause for canonisation in February 2020 and a Sydney Archdiocesan investigation is underway.”

The order continues today with ongoing ministries in Coogee, Newcastle and Minto, with Eileen’s legacy also honoured in the work of the Brown Nurses, an independent organisation which provides in-home care and support to the most disadvantaged and marginalised in inner-Sydney.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP officially launched Eileen O’Connor’s cause for canonisation in February 2020 and a Sydney Archdiocesan investigation is underway into evidence of her reputation for holiness and a life of heroic virtue.

The new Waterloo mural has been unveiled to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Eileen’s death at the young age of 28. It features images of Eileen at different stages of her life as well as her personal signature, taken from her writings on the needs of the poor in Sydney.

The Parish Priest of the Catholic Community of Sydney City South, Fr Paul Smithers commissioned local artist, Danny Mulyono to paint a striking mural on the grounds of Our Lady of Mount Carmel primary school in Waterloo to honour Eileen on the site where she attended school. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
The Parish Priest of the Catholic Community of Sydney City South, Fr Paul Smithers commissioned local artist, Danny Mulyono to paint a striking mural on the grounds of Our Lady of Mount Carmel primary school in Waterloo to honour Eileen on the site where she attended school. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Fr Smithers said many of his parishioners have a strong devotion to Eileen and he hoped the new mural helped to embody her story more within the life of the broader community.

“The mural has attracted a lot of interest from school parents and other passers-by aside from just the regular Mass goers. Many Sydneysiders still aren’t that familiar with the story of this inspirational woman who lived with a chronic disability and yet achieved so much for others in such a relatively short life”, Fr Smithers said.

“Eileen lived with a crippling condition called transverse myelitis which left her confined to a wheelchair for most of her life. We know that this impacted upon her school attendance here in Waterloo and yet her family would often carry her up a steep hill to Mass and for prayer in the church here”, he added.

“Artist Danny Mulyono said he completed the mural over four days and it was wonderful to see the interest from the local community.”

“Waterloo was a ghetto for the poor and disadvantaged in Sydney at that time and I have no doubt that her experiences would have sowed the seeds of her vocation of outreach to the needy which still continues today”.

Artist Danny Mulyono said he completed the mural over four days and it was wonderful to see the interest from the local community, particularly from children at Our Lady of Mount Carmel primary school.

“Their faces came to life as they watched the mural unfold and passers-by at the local café across the road from the school stopped too to ask me about the project and the response was very encouraging”, he said.

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