Sydney Archdiocese opens cause for Eileen

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Servant of God Eileen O’Connor in her sickbed. Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has called for anyone with relevant information about Eileen to bring it to his attention for the purposes of her cause for beatification. PHOTO: Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP has issued an edict calling on Sydney Catholics to aid the Archdiocese with information for the cause of beatification and canonisation of 20th century Sydney Catholic, Servant of God Eileen O’Connor – foundress of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor.

“I call upon all the of the faithful of this Archdiocese of Sydney, who may have useful information regarding the Servant of God, to bring such documents, materials and information to my attention,” the Archbishop wrote in the edict issued on 10 October.

Bishop Anthony Randazzo of Broken Bay, who is familiar with the work of the Nurses for the Poor and was involved with the early stages of investigating the possibility of her cause, told The Catholic Weekly he was very happy with the news.

“For me this is a natural progression and I am delighted that this next step is being taken,” he said.

“I have known Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor since I was a priest in Brisbane back in the 90s. I have seen the way they have quietly worked amongst the poor and the dying and the spirit – the gentle but consistent spirit of Eileen O’Connor- was very obvious.”

The first members of the Nurses founded by Eileen O’Connor and Sydney priest Fr Edward McGrath MSC.

The Bishop also noted the importance of Eileen as a beacon for human dignity.
“Eileen becomes for us a symbol of hope in our time when so many issues where the life and dignity of the human person are under question,” he said.

Dr Jocelyn Hedley, a writer and historian who authored a biography of Eileen was delighted by news of the edict. “The opening of Eileen’s cause may well represent a change for things in Australia,” she said.

“Eileen – a champion of the unborn and weak – stands completely counter to our society, which says people like her should not exist.”

Dr Hedley also said the life of Eileen is an inspiration for our own trials. “Regardless of what our weaknesses, frailty, and vulnerabilities are, Eileen O’Connor is a tremendous inspiration for us all. Each of us can turn these things into great treasures when joined with Our Lord’s own suffering which is what Eileen perpetually did.”

Author Dr Jocelyn Hedley with Bishop Tony Randazzo at the launch in Coogee of Hidden in the Shadow of Love about the first Brown Nurse and companion of Eileen O’Connor, Mother Theresa McLaughlan, on 28 September. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli