A Story of the Blue Veil
24th March 2023
When Graham Archer became one of the first aged care residents at Calvary Kooyong he brought with him a poignant reminder of Calvary’s incredible history, and in particular the rich legacy of the founding Sisters, or ‘the Blue Nuns’ as they were known. It is a legacy that lives on in our mission and the compassionate care of our staff.
In Graham’s suitcase was a copy of a book given him by a family friend who had once worked with the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary at Calvary Bethlehem. Published in 1976, No One Dies Alone records some of the Sisters “devotion and trials, their hardships and happiness” across the nearly 100 years that had passed since their foundation.
Graham has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. He now lives at the new Huntly Suites aged care home while receiving the specialist care he needs for his progressive neurological condition from the team at Calvary Bethlehem hospital, located on the same site. For him, the book is a curio – and the living legacy a source of comfort.
‘A story of the blue veil and of what a woman can do’
Subtitled ‘a story of the blue veil and of what a woman can do’, author Dick Wordley talks throughout its pages to the Sisters’ contribution and long legacy.
“By the 1970s, more than 4 million patients had been treated at hospitals and clinics administered by the Little Company of Mary in the Australian Province which, historically, has also embraced New Zealand, South Africa and South Korea.
“Tens of thousands more people, young and old have been nursed by the Blue Nuns in their homes, in ambulances, in the air, aboard ships, at outback stations and mountain villages …
“This is just a part of the contribution by the Blue Nuns to the history of charity, mercy and medicine since the first six-blue-veiled Sisters embarked from the Liguria in the Crown Colony of New South Wales only a handful of years after the Little Company had been founded in adversity in Nottingham, England, by Mary Potter in 1877.
“What began in Australia as a ‘Night Refuge and Soup Kitchen’ designed to feed the hungry, shelter the poor and succour the down-at-heel and at heart grew to become a modern and diversified union of women Religious, along with lay nurses who work with them.”
“Now, and for 100 years, the work and devotion of the Blue Nuns has been to care for, and give succour to the sick, the poor and the dying.
“It is in their devotion to the dying that the blue-veiled Sisters of the Little Company of Mary have earned a universal respect unique in the history of religious orders.”
And from the beginning, their practice and their prayers came with a deep belief that ‘no one dies alone’.