A place imbued with Christian faith and love - 60th Anniversary of opening of Mary’s Grange

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On this day, St Patrick’s Day, in 1957, Archbishop Guilford Young formally opened St Mary’s Grange. At its beginning it accommodated twenty ladies.

Mary’s Grange began in the mind of the Archbishop as he wanted to open a home for the elderly in Hobart. In December 1955 he asked the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to take on the task. He promoted fundraising and was able to buy this property called “The Grange” with its two and a half acres of land. Mr and Mrs Butler were the original benefactors offering a property on the Eastern shore. When the property was found to be unsuitable they sold it to enable the purchase of this property at Crayfish Point.

In late 1956 four foundation sisters arrived. Renovations took place and the house was prepared to receive elderly women. Very soon the demand required further land acquisition and the building of extensions.

As is the story of the Catholic Church it was dedicated religious who pioneered projects of compassion. Care of the elderly is an expression of the corporal works of mercy. It is deeply embedded in the Gospel - “I was sick and you visited me”. It is a reflection of the all-encompassing love of God. The Church continually hears the Gospel call to compassion and care of the vulnerable.

Care for the elderly was emerging as an area of need. The Archbishop recognised this. Generous lay people saw a need. And so Mary Grange was born.

The Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart served the elderly here until July 1986. Sr Patricia Kinlyside, Provincial Superior of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart later paid tribute to the paternal interest of Archbishop Young towards Mary’s Grange and the sisters. At the time of his death she wrote: “I want to express to someone the love and appreciation of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart for Archbishop Young… who, for thirty years was father and friend to the MSC Sisters at Mary’s Grange. We were so happy to have been able to help him achieve his noble dream of having a Catholic Home for the Aged in Hobart”.

Upon concluding their care of Mary’s Grange, the facility was handed over to the Archdiocese. Archbishop Young was able to secure the services of the Little Company of Mary who cared for residents until 2005 when Sr Patricia Mary Bell concluded her appointment as Director of Mission.

Mary’s Grange continued to operate and maintain its unique spirit as a Catholic Aged Care facility under a governing board. Last year the Archdiocese arranged for Southern Cross Care to take responsibility for the facility.

Over the years Mary’s Grange has developed significantly. There were additions and improvements over the years. Significant renovations commenced in 2002 and in 2004 Mary Potter House was blessed and opened by Archbishop Doyle.

Mary’s Grange continues to reflect its Catholic spirit. The chapel is at the heart of the property. One senses that somehow the pastoral and spiritual character of the religious who founded and served Mary’s Grange has been embedded deep in its very fibre. Pastoral care of the residents has always been a priority. And continues to this day.

The anniversary of its opening falls on St Patrick’s day. This great Irish saint is no stranger to Catholics in Tasmania.  In a letter from Bishop Daniel Murphy to the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Hobart Town published in the October 1879 edition of the Catholic Standard, the Archbishop reported:

Dearly Beloved Brethren,
His Eminence, Cardinal Simeoni, prefect of the S.C Propaganda, has kindly sent me by the last English Mail a decree of Pope Leo XIII, by which his Holiness has been pleased to constitute St Patrick, Apostle of Ireland, Patron of the Diocese of Hobart Town, and to raise his feast to the rite of a double of the first class.....I represented how gratifying it would be to my flock, who are nearly all Irish or Irish born, and how conducive to their spiritual welfare, if the patronage of St Patrick, for whom they entertain a singular respect and devotion, were extended to them in this land of their adoption……

It is not without significance then that the desire of Archbishop Young that a facility to care for the elderly of Hobart should be opened on the Feast of the Patron of the Archdiocese.

Today Mary’s Grange is part of the network of Aged Care Facilities developed by Southern Cross Care. Since 1969 Southern Cross Care has dedicated itself to the provision of facilities to provide the elderly with a safe and loving environment. It continues the pioneering work done by religious and it has expanded into the largest provider of aged care in Tasmania.

The Gospel today reminds us of a simple truth: the Lord sends out his disciples to carry out his mission. The Lord continues to send out his disciples to carry out his mission. Care of the aged is a noble work which comes under the mission of Christ in the world.

Mary’s Grange continues to be a witness to this call. I pray today that it will continue for many, many years to come to be a place imbued with faith and love where the elderly will find solace, support and love.

Archbishop Julian Porteous
Thursday, 16 March 2017