Now known as Calvary St Joseph’s, the original St Joseph’s began providing care for the community in August 1946, when the first patients were admitted. From those very humble beginnings St Joseph’s grew and in 1959 the major buildings and Chapel were officially opened and the buildings blessed as a ‘home for the aged’. In those early days St Joseph’s was run and on the whole, staffed, by the Daughters of Charity. Since those early days St Joseph’s has had been under the care of a number of bodies – the local Area Health Service, later, the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle as part of Catholic Care of the Aged and now, Calvary.
Fr Andrew Doohan Vicar General, Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle began the formalities with a Mass held in the beautiful Marian Chapel to which a number of residents, staff and ex-staff attended.
Mass was followed by a wonderful presentation from the current Manager Helen Gayner, who touched on the history of St Joseph’s, reflecting on the hard work and dedication from the Daughters of Charity who worked tirelessly to make the home what it is today.
We were fortunate to be joined on the day by three of Daughters of Charity; Sr Margaret Porter, Sr Anne Maguire and Sr Lurline Maguire and all three had, over their years of ministry, spent time at St Joseph’s. These three Sisters, along with all those other Sisters and staff have devoted their lives to caring for those in need and during their time with St Joseph’s each made a huge impact on the lives of the residents.
A special mention was made to Ron Taylor for his significant contribution to the home. Moving to St Joseph’s as a carer in the mid 1970’s, Ron lived on site for many years working alongside the Daughters of Charity. After retiring in the 80’s, he became a volunteer, assisting with taking communion and helping residents to and from mass.
Ron is now a resident of St Joseph’s, spending many hours of his day in the chapel. We were lucky enough to interview Ron recently about his experiences with St Joseph, which was played to those in attendance.
“I’ve been living here for around two years… One of the ladies invited me down for morning tea and I said ok, I’ll just do that. So I came down for morning tea and I haven’t left yet!” he said.
When asked if spending time in the chapel brought him great peace, Ron responded with a chuckle and a sense of reminiscence;
“More so than ever. It’s taken me back to when to when I trained.” he said.
A special mention was also made to Ray Radley, who was a 12 year old altar boy at the laying of the foundation in March 1949. Over 50 years later, he became a resident of St Joseph’s, unfortunately passing away only weeks before the anniversary.
Bryan McLoughlin, National Director Aged and Community Care Services also spoke, welcoming all those in attendance. He reflected on the history of the home and of Sandgate, highlighting just how different the landscape is today in comparison to when the home was first built. He thanked everyone who had helped shape St Joseph’s, both past and present.
It was only fitting that the longest serving staff member of St Joseph’s, Jeanette Stone, was given the honour of cutting the cake alongside the newest staff member, Lauren Abbott. It was a fantastic celebration filled with lots of laughter, stories and reflection.