Mother Mary Patrick Potter
1849 - 1927
Another Irish woman, Mother Mary Patrick Potter, succeeded Mother Vincent Whitty. Mother Patrick arrived in Brisbane in 1868 when she was only 19. An ardent advocate for women’s education and determined to establish a university in Queensland, Mother Patrick held the office of Superior or assistant Superior, for 48 years.
"Mother Patrick’s religious outlook did not prevent her from having her feet firmly planted in the material world. Her way to heaven was not paved only with good intentions—good strategic planning and meticulous financial management formed a resilient tarmac."
–Extract from Expressions of Mercy—History of the Mater Hospitals, by Helen Gregory.
Within the first year of Mother Patrick’s appointment, the Sisters purchased 10 acres of land at South Brisbane for A£7000 in 1893. However, it wasnt until 1906 that the first Mater Misericordiae Private Hospital opened in North Quay, Brisbane, with accommodation for 20 patients.
Part of the private patient fees went towards construction costs for the Public and Private Hospitals at the South Brisbane location now known as Mater Hill. Building commenced in 1908 and Mater Private opened with great fanfare in August 1910, followed by Mater Public just a few months later. This hospital, which provided free care for the sick and needy, had been the most dearly held dream of the Sisters since their arrival in Brisbane 50 years earlier.
Mother Patrick’s era is remembered as a period of great expansion. Some of the advances made under her stewardship include Mater Public’s extensions, the establishment of Mater Public training school for lay nursing trainees and the start of construction for Mater Children's Hospital.