The Augustinian stockman

The Augustinian stockman

January 1961. Brother James (Gregory) Fitzgerald of the Augustinian Priory in Brisbane presents Moth

January 1961. Brother James (Gregory) Fitzgerald of the Augustinian Priory in Brisbane presents Mother Superior, Cissie McLaughlin, with a life-sized wood carving of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor co-founder, Eileen O’Connor. Raised on a cattle property on the Macleay River in northern NSW, he had sought Eileen’s advice about a vocation more than 40 years previously. Brother Gregory had a natural talent for woodcarving and some of his intricately-carved walking and swagger sticks, which often featured Australian flora and fauna, were presented to Most Rev. Daniel Mannix, Archbishop of Melbourne; Irish President, Éamon de Valera; US Army General, Douglas MacArthur; and US President, John F. Kennedy. This statue of Eileen O’Connor, Brother Gregory’s largest work, is carved from a piece of ironbark recovered from the old kitchen at Villanova, the Augustinian house in Coorparoo, Brisbane. Carved using only a penknife, rasp and sandpaper, the statue took Brother Gregory several months to complete. Eileen suffered from a severe curvature of the spine and stood – at best – 115 cm (3’10”) tall. It is now known she suffered from transverse myelitis, an agonising inflammation of the spinal cord. 

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For further reading, visit our resources page where you can discover more about the Our Lady's Nurses for the Poor, Eileen O'Connor, Fr Edward (Ted) McGrath and the work of the Brown Nurses.
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