Our Lady's Nurses
For the poor
1913 - 2013

Delivering a food hamper during a home visit, circa 1950.


The early days of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor were not without major challenges. The society faced unexpected opposition from the outset, with some Church authorities publicly criticising Eileen O’Connor, the nurses and its benefactors. Likewise, Father McGrath faced scrutiny from his order and was instructed to cease his involvement with the society.

Father McGrath, Eileen O’Connor and a nurse companion travelled to Rome to represent their case. Father McGrath successfully challenged his expulsion from his order and was reinstated in 1915. However, he was effectively prevented from returning to Australia for many years.

However, Eileen’s case against Church authorities, which had threatened her with excommunication if she proceeded with legal action for defamation and libel, was quashed. Years later, Archbishop Michael Kelly admitted that his criticisms of Eileen and the society were unfounded.

Despite these problems, the Society of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor prospered and with the assistance of His Eminence Cardinal Norman Gilroy, it was recognised as a religious order in 1953.

Visit our photo gallery