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Campaign continues for next Aussie saint

Hundreds of Catholic devotees filled the pews of Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral on Thursday to mark the formal opening of the cause for Australia’s newest saint.

The mass and canonical ceremony formally announced the members of a commission to oversee the possible beatification and canonisation for Eileen Rosaline O’Connor.

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 lives on continues today through the Brown Nurses, who continue to minister to the sick and poor in the tradition of the Sisters.

As part of the process to becoming a saint, two posthumous miracles must be evidenced.

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 1940s.

“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 Archbishop of Sydney Most Reverend Anthony Fisher shared the group’s desire for O’Connor to be “lifted up and counted among our saints in heaven.”

“Saints are people who are transparent with god’s grace, people who help us see god and be like god by giving us examples of the triumph of his grace in their lives,” Rev Fisher said during mass on Thursday.

“Eilleen certainly seems to have done ordinary things in an extraordinary way… like so many of the saints.”

“She gave her all to God, her sisters, the poor and the sick.”

Father Anthony Robbie, charged with guiding the process of recognising O’Connor in 2018, will now seek more information on her “life, virtues and reputation of holiness”.

“Always thinking of others in need despite her own severe hardships, Eileen is an outstanding role model for today’s Australian youth and continues to inspire others to serve the poor and the outcast, nearly 100 years after her death”, Fr Robbie said in a statement on Thursday.

This process to becoming a saint could take several years.

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