Heroic sister celebrated

Sister Angela Mary and the Sisters of Mercy Nursing Graduates, 1964.

A woman who defied the Bjelke-Petersen State Government in the 1980s to provide care to Queensland’s first HIV-AIDS patients has been lauded for her service to the Mater Hospital in Brisbane.

The Mater chose the day Sister Angela Mary Doyle celebrated her arrival in Brisbane from her native Ireland 75 years ago to celebrate her contribution.

Sister Angela Mary, 96, was Mater’s Sister Administrator for 22 years, during which time she oversaw the huge growth of Mater’s adult, children’s and mothers’ hospitals.

She was a fearless campaigner for the humane treatment of HIV-AIDS patients, accepting secret funds from the Federal Government to provide care for terminally ill patients and their loved ones.

The sister also helped to raise tens of millions of dollars for ground-breaking medical research and enhanced health services through the Mater Foundation.

Her contribution to Queensland has been recognised by the Order of Australia, a Centenary Medal and honorary degrees. She has also been honoured as a Queenslander of the Year, an Australia Day Citizen of the Year and been named a Queensland Great.

Hundreds of friends and former colleagues gathered at Brisbane City Hall to celebrate the historic anniversary and thank Sister Angela Mary for her life of dedication to others.

“Sister Angela Mary is a teacher, a leader, a fundraiser, a fearless advocate for social justice and a highly skilled businesswoman,” Mater CEO Dr Peter Steer said.

“Mater is so grateful that she has been part of and touched our lives – and the lives of so many others.”

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd added to the many tributes to Sister Angela Mary, stating: “How lucky were we here in Brisbane, that at 21 years of age, Sr Angela made the life-changing decision to leave County Clare, Ireland, and travel to join us here with the Sister of Mercy in Brisbane.

“Some might say we had the luck of the Irish on our side. I believe we had a little divine intervention.”

Sister Angela Mary oversaw the opening of the new Mater Hospital Brisbane at South Brisbane in 1981 and the growth of Mater Mothers’ Hospital to become the largest maternity service in the southern hemisphere.

She broke down barriers by forging a close relationship with the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation and Brisbane’s Taiwanese community, as well as advocating for improved healthcare for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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