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The 24 September 2019 marks the 110th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of Mater Public Hospital.
The ceremony in 1909 was held on the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy, a day which celebrates the opening in 1827 of the House of Mercy in Dublin by Catherine McAuley.
The Sisters of Mercy, inspired by their work with Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War, opened their own hospital in Dublin on 24 September 1861.
The Sisters of Mercy in Brisbane continued this legacy with the building of Mater Public Hospital, which opened in February 1911. The 1909 blessing and laying of the foundation stone was performed by the Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal Moran and Archbishop of Brisbane Robert Dunne.
Exactly 70 years later on 24 September 1979, the foundation stone of the new Mater Adult Hospital was laid and blessed by Archbishop of Brisbane Francis Rush.
The new hospital followed more than a decade of campaigning and was constructed to meet the growing needs of the South East Queensland population.
At the ceremony two trowels were used – a new trowel for the occasion, as well as the trowel used in the 1908 ceremony of the laying the foundation stone of the Mater Private Hospital.
Sister Angela Mary Doyle, Mater Hospitals Administrator, explained the historical significance of the trowel.
“Only a few days earlier the 1908 trowel had been located in the basement of St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney and sent to Brisbane for the ceremony. Both trowels can be seen today in Mater Archives and Heritage Centre, Aubigny Place,” she said.
Superior General Sister Catherine Courtney, who spoke at the ceremony, explained that Mater Misericordiae was Latin for Mother of Mercy.
"For 150 years members of the Mercy Order have reflected on the compassion, the kindness, the respect and the understanding Jesus showed to every human person. These reflections have always resulted in social action depending on the needs of the time,” Sister Catherine Courtney said.
On 12 December 1981 the new $28 million Mater Adult Public Hospital was officially opened. The 11 storey building featured 105 beds, six operating theatres, intensive care unit, coronary care unit, nine diagnostic radiology rooms, rehabilitation department, emergency department and pathology services.
The stones can still be seen today outside the Whitty Building.
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