National

Campaign continues for next Aussie saint

By AAP Newswire

The Archbishop of Sydney is optimistic the inspiring work and canonisation of Eileen O'Connor could help break Australia's "holiness drought".

Most Reverend Anthony Fisher shared his views on Australia's second potential saint during the mass and formal opening of the cause at Sydney's St Mary's Cathedral on Thursday.

"So far Australia has only one recognised saint so can we produce more saints? Has our dry continent suffered a holiness drought also?" Rev Fisher said during mass on Thursday.

Regarded as Australia's next saint-in-waiting, O'Connor could follow the country's only recognised saint Mary MacKillop, founder of the Sisters of St Joseph of The Sacred Heart, who was canonised in 2010.

"We pray that Eileen O'Connor might be raised to the order of Australia's second saint," Mr Fisher said.

"Please god might she be numbered among the great heroes of our faith. We hope that day will come in our lifetime."

Known as the "Little Mother", O'Connor is revered for having co-founded Our Lady's Nurses For The Poor, a religious order committed to nursing the sick and poor in their homes around Sydney's inner suburbs.

She died at the age of 28 in 1921, but her work continues today through the Brown Nurses based in Glebe, who continue to work in the tradition of the Sisters.

The formal opening of the cause comes after Mr Fisher OP issued an edict late last year, requesting anyone with "useful information" to come forward to assist church authorities in Rome to consider Eileen's cause.

Brisbane's Barbara Bowers has put her experiences forward for consideration, after the work of the Brown Nurses saved her from the grips of alcohol addiction in her late 40s.

"It got to stage where one day I just virtually called out for help because either I'd die or I'd have to do something," Ms Bowers told AAP on Thursday.

It was during this dark time that Ms Bowers felt an overwhelming sense to find familiarity, enlisting in the help of her old school mate who happened to be a Sister with the Brown Nurses.

Here she learnt more about Eileen O'Connor and felt the pull of "the hand of god" to become the sober woman she is 20 years on.

"The whole life of Eilleen O'Connor is an example of small things done with great love," Ms Bowers said.

"One hundred years later, you can still see the the hand of god through Eilleen."

The process of sainthood could still take several years, as evidence is collected by Father Anthony Robbie, who was appointed as postulator in 2018.