The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus arrived in Melbourne in 1948. Inspired by the healing ministry of Jesus, they expressed their mission in seeking out and serving the needy and making known the Good News through their actions. 

The Sisters had inherited a small suburban hospital from the Mercy Sisters and they worked tirelessly, caring for the patients and managing the service. Since the late 1980s, responsibility for the health services in Australia has been progressively devolved to lay people. We have been entrusted to carry the Sisters legacy forward.

Although we share the same mission as other Australian Catholic health care services, we know there is also something else at work here. Our patients, visitors and staff say “there’s something about Cabrini…” even though they do not have the words to express the difference they are experiencing. I have had the same feeling when visiting our sister-organisations around the world and I am sure you have felt it too.

The Sisters bring a particular orientation to their work based on the charism of their founder, St Frances Xavier Cabrini, and their missionary identity. Mother Cabrini trained as a teacher and believed education was an act of love. She encouraged an educational philosophy she called education of the heart. This is part of the formation of the Sisters in their religious vocation. It is embedded in the culture of our organisations, influencing the attitudes and behaviours of all who are part of this great endeavour.

Lay leaders and staff bring professional competence to their roles. However, unlike the Sisters before us, we have not had the same opportunities for formation in Catholic identity and Cabrini charism. We need to pay attention to this, too, if we are to be authentic leaders and participants in Cabrinian health care.

At the International Health Commission Meeting held in Melbourne in August 2018, we began to explore the essence of Cabrinian health care in a keynote address by Sister Concepcion. In short, it is caring from the heart. I invite you to reflect on your experience to identify some of the things that make it special.

~ Cath Garner
Chair, International Health Commission

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Below is a Coronavirus Prayer by Sr Christine Koelhoffer IHM


A Coronavirus Prayer

Loving God, Your desire is for our wholeness and well being.

We hold in tenderness and prayer the collective suffering of our world at this time.

We grieve precious lives lost and vulnerable lives threatened.

We ache for ourselves and our neighbours, standing before an uncertain future.

We pray: may love, not fear, go viral.

Inspire our leaders to discern and choose wisely, aligned with the common good.

Help us to practice social distancing and reveal to us new and creative ways to come together in spirit and in solidarity.

Call us to profound trust in your faithful presence,

You, the God who does not abandon.

You can read this piece in ITALIAN, SPANISH and PORTUGUESE in the last number of the Generalate newsletter ‘To the Ends of the Earth’ HERE.

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