Australian Founding Story
Twenty four years following the foundation of the Congregation of Sisters of St John of God Bishop Matthew Gibney sent a request to Sisters of St John of God in Ireland, for help to alleviate the pastoral and social needs of the people entrusted to his care in the vast territory of the diocese of Perth.
The infrastructures of the colony of Western Australia were insufficient to cope with the sudden increase in population resulting from the gold-rush and economic depression in the Eastern Colonies. Shortage of fresh water and lack of adequate sanitary facilities caused several severe outbreaks of typhoid.
Bishop Matthew Gibney had a great sense of responsibility to attend to both the spiritual and social needs of the people entrusted to his care. He was tireless in his search for people who would contribute to his vision of the creation of a 'free, harmonious and prosperous society' in this "new land" of opportunity.
The RSM Orizaba arrived at Albany, on the south west corner of Western Australia, on the 23rd November 1895. On board were eight Sisters of St John of God who had responded to Bishop Gibney's call for help. They arrived in Perth on 25th November 1895 by steam-train, a thirteen hour journey to Beverley where they stayed overnight, and the next day they travelled by coach to Perth.
The Sisters' first residence in Adelaide Terrace Perth, became home and hospital as they went about helping people in whatever way they could.
From those beginnings, Sisters of St John of God have continued to demonstrate an approach to service provision that is inclusive and non-judgmental; they have sought to create work environments where people can flourish and come to "fullness of life" (John 10:10) that Jesus came to announce. Sisters continue to have a deep commitment to the creation of just, free, harmonious and prosperous societies.
Since then the Sisters have developed and adapted to the changing needs and demands of each era since their arrival in Australia.