Sister Angela Mary was born in County Clare, Ireland, one of a large family growing up on a farm during the Second World War. As a young novice she journeyed to Australia in 1947 responding to a call for more Sisters of Mercy to come to Brisbane. Although trained as a teacher she was despatched to the Mater to train as a nurse.
She completed her Diploma of Nursing Administration in 1964, however, it was the area of hospital administration rather than nursing administration, in which she would make her mark. She was appointed Chief Executive of the Mater Hospitals – a position she held for 22 years – during which time she completed a Bachelor of Business from QUT.
She retired from the Chief Executive position in 1987 and became Senior Director of Health Services for the Brisbane Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy. In response to the continuing need to raise funds for research and new health care services, she became executive director of the Mater Trust between 1993 and 1997, and served on the Trust board.
Sister Angela Mary’s outstanding contribution to the Mater and the Queensland and Australian communities have been recognised in many ways, most notably:
- AMA Award of Distinction (Queensland branch) in 1989
- Queenslander of the Year in 1989
- Australian Achiever Award, 1990
- The Order of Australia (AO) for service to the community, 1993
- Degree of Doctor of the Griffith University, 1991
- Degree of Doctor of the Queensland University of Technology, 1997
- Premier’s Millennium Award for Excellence in Charity/Welfare
- Premier’s Inaugural Queensland Greats Award, 2001
Sister Angela Mary also champions social justice and community accord on other fronts. These include fostering relations with the Taiwanese community in Brisbane and in particular the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu-Chi Foundation, and her continuing interest in and advocacy for the health and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Perhaps the most significant recognition of her work and achievements is the way she continues to be embraced with affection and held in esteem by people from all walks of life – by people she has worked with and many more she has never met. Together they regard the contribution she has made to the lives of others as the hallmark of a truly great Queenslander, a great Australian, and an outstanding ambassador of County Clare.