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Mother Damian Duncombe OBE

Mother Damian Duncombe1899 - 1980

Mother Damian Duncombe was the first Australian-born woman to lead the Brisbane Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy. Born in Hughenden in 1899, she taught at All Hallows’ Girls’ School from 1927 to 1944 when she became the Superior at Mater and, in 1950, its first Sister Administrator. An able administrator with a keen interest in new ideas and new methods, Mother Damian started the McAuley Teachers’ College, reflecting her determination that the young Sisters would be educated. She also established the Sisters’ mission in New Guinea.

She was elected Reverend Mother (Congregation Leader) in 1954 and first president of the Federation of the Sisters of Mercy Australia in 1956. Mother Damian was passionately interested in Mater Mother’s Hospital, which opened in December 1960 and admitted its first patients on 2 February 1961—exactly 50 years after the first patients were admitted to Mater Public and 100 years after the Sisters’ arrival in Queensland.