Eileen O’Connor (1892 – 1928) co-founder of the Brown Nurses
During Eileen O’Connor’s brief life, she co-founded the religious order of Our Lady’s Nurses of the Poor — more commonly known as the Brown Nurses — dedicated to helping the sick and dying poor in their homes.
Eileen Rosaline O’Connor was an Australian Roman Catholic and the co-founder of the Society of Our Lady’s Nurses for the Poor (1913) – also known as the Brown Nurses – to provide free nursing services to the poor. In her childhood she suffered severe spinal trauma that left her confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life; it was through her own hardship that the idea of founding a nursing order for the poor came to mind. Both she and her fellow co-founder Fr. Edward McGrath faced initial difficulties in recruiting others to their order but in the end managed to grow an order of nuns who were dedicated to their vision of care for the poor. But allegations of misconduct between McGrath and O’Connor – later quashed – prevented McGrath’s return to Australia which left O’Connor in the difficult position as Superior of leading the order for the remainder of her life.
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