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Facility heritage

The Sisters of Charity were founded in Dublin in 1815 with a commitment to helping the poor. Having witnessed first-hand the conditions causing poverty, then Congregational Leader, Mother Mary Aikenhead opened St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin in 1834, where the poor could receive for love, the same care as the rich received for money.

At the request of Bishop Polding to bring their mission to Australia, Sr Mary Aikenhead agreed to send five Sisters to the Australian colony. The five volunteers, MM John Cahill, Sr M John Baptist De Lacy, Sr M Xavier Williams, Sr M Lawrence Cater and Sr M Francis de Sales O’Brien arrived in Sydney aboard the Francis Spaight on 31 December 1838.

It would be 20 years before the Sisters were able to open a small hospital at ‘Tarmons’ Potts Point in 1857.

A Crown Land Grant and public fundraising allowed the Sisters to open a bigger purpose-built hospital on the current Darlinghurst site in 1870, now known as the De Lacy Building. Since then, the Sisters of Charity have continuously developed the Darlinghurst Campus to meet the growing demands from the public and increasing sophistication of medicine, and continue their work within the Hospital to present day.

In 2013 the Sisters of Charity celebrated their 175th year anniversary of their service in Australia. As part of these celebrations, St Vincent's Hospital held an exhibition of the Sister's work from the establishment of our Hospital, to current day titled, 

Nuns at Work

Nuns at Work from bruce stephens on Vimeo.

Images and commentary about the "Nuns at Work" photographic exhibition at St Vincent's Hospital Sydney...one of the many events commemorating the 175th Anniversary of the Sisters of Charity of Australia.

Timeline Highlights

1870 St Vincent’s Hospital opens at Darlinghurst, 20 October 1870

1886 The Sisters of Charity open St Joseph’s Hospital for tuberculosis with 20 beds at Parramatta

1890 Sacred Heart Hospice for the Dying opens with 10 beds

1909 St Vincent’s Private Hospital opened

1923 St Vincent’s Hospital approved by the Senate of University of Sydney as a Teaching Hospital or Clinical School.

1963 Garvan Institute of Medical Research Institute opened

1982 Gorman House, a 20 bed Detoxification Centre opened

1984 Rankin Court Alcohol and Drug Service opened

1989 The Centre for Immunology opened

1990 St Vincent’s Clinic opened

1996 The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute opened by Diana, Princess of Wales

2001 The congregations’ of Sisters of Charity and Sisters of Mercy, North Sydney merge their health care services to form St Vincent’s & Mater Health Sydney (SVMHS).

2008 Lowy Packer Victor Chang research facility opened by Princess Mary of Denmark

2010 O’Brien Mental Health Centre opened

2012 The Kinghorn Cancer Centre opened - a joint venture of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and St Vincent’s Hospital Sydney

2013 The Huntington’s Disease Unite opened at St Joseph’s Hospital