Ballarat nursing sisters bid farewell

WITH more than 100 years of service to Ballarat between them, Sisters Assumption Neary, Joan Grace and Lucilla Prendiville will be sorely missed.

The trio – Ballarat’s last remaining St John of God sisters – are all retiring to Perth between now and May.

Originally from Swinford in County Mayo, Ireland, Sr Assumption has spent 47 years in Ballarat, arriving in 1959 as a 19-year-old, with an eight-year stint in Perth.

Sr Assumption originally worked on the former St John of God Hospital’s second floor, did a night-duty stint and worked in theatre before attending the College of Nursing for two years and working at the School of Nursing for 20 years.

“When I came, the now-demolished hospital was not even finished,” Sr Assumption said.

She said one of the biggest changes she had seen was the move from hospital-based training to universities.

Sr Assumption said Ballarat’s growth had also been incredible to watch.

“Instead of cattle and sheep grazing, we have a prairie of houses.”

Sr Lucilla, from County Kerry in Ireland, arrived in Ballarat in 1971 and spent nearly 21 years as a midwife and in hospital administration between stints in Perth.

“There’s been a real change in the nursing way,” Sr Lucilla said. “Years ago, you kept people in for 10 days, now they go home the next day.”

Ballarat-born Sr Joan undertook general nursing roles and said the biggest change she had noticed was in modern medicine.

“In the theatre in the last couple of years, there’s been a change in approaches with new procedures,” she said.

 “Sometimes you would think you were on Mars from what they are all wearing.”

The trio will settle in the St John of God Subiaco convent and plan to take retirement one day at a time. “We’ll just see what happens,” Sr Assumption said.

St John of God Hospital chief executive officer Michael Krieg said the sisters would be “sadly missed”.

“They leave a legacy of a wonderful contribution to Ballarat,” Mr Krieg said.

Since 1915, more than 150 St John of God sisters have been involved in the Ballarat community.