An inestimable privilege

7 July 1932. The Catholic Freeman’s Journal reports that the Holy Father has given the Archbishop of Sydney permission to allow Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor the “inestimable privilege of having Holy Mass celebrated and the Blessed Sacrament reserved in their private chapel at Dudley St, Coogee”. This “grand news, so long and ardently awaited” is conveyed to the community by Rev. James Gilbert msc, parish priest at St Brigid’s Church, Coogee. Friends and benefactors rally to donate an altar, statues and other furnishings. Most Rev. Michael Sheehan, Archbishop Coadjutor of Sydney, celebrates the first Mass in the new chapel on 23 August 1932 in the presence of the nurses and dozens of their friends and helpers, who fill the hallway, verandahs and surrounding grounds. In his sermon, Archbishop Sheenan says, “I am happy indeed to have the privilege of offering the first Holy Mass in your chapel and of leaving the Blessed Sacrament with you. I know that while Our Lord is here with you, He will never be lonely.” The chapel is Eileen’s former bedroom, where the foundation community of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor witnessed a miraculous apparition of Our Lady in 1916. Eileen’s incorrupt body will be reinterred in the chapel four years later. Eileen’s bed is now located in an alcove at the rear of the chapel and is a place of pilgrimage.