AUSTRALIA'S first saint, Mother Mary Mackillop, had a famous saying: "Never see a need without doing something about it."
Sister Carmel McFaull, who died in April 2020, lived her life by those words. She was awarded an Order of Australia in 2010 for founding the Southern Peninsula Cancer Support Group in 1987. The group now has 20 volunteer drivers and continues to thrive on the ideals of this great lady.
Sister Carmel joined the Sisters of Good Shepherd at 20 years of age, having first trained as a mothercraft nurse. She spent her earliest years at Abbotsford, and later in Bendigo, helping deprived children. "They were difficult at times. We saw our families once a month and we worked long hours. It wasn't a nine to five job," she said. “You were there with the children all the time. It was demanding, but we always knew we were doing something worthwhile." After a stint at St John Vianney's in Springvale North she was one of the first nuns to work at a parish church, Sister Carmel moved to Portsea in 1987.
After forming the Southern Peninsula Cancer Support Group, her next move was to lobby the government for a radiation treatment centre closer to home because it became apparent that people were travelling thousands of kilometres a week for a treatment, which would last 3 minutes. Her dream was realised when the Frankston Private Hospital opened with a radiotherapy centre in 2006.
Her next goal was to extend the hospital so more cancer patients could not only receive radiotherapy but chemotherapy as well. The bonus to this dream was to have patients to stay overnight. This was achieved in 2015.
Sister Carmel became our Patron when she retired from active work with the SPCSG in 2017. We will all be indebted to Sister Carmel for her work, her vision and her passion to help the vulnerable in our world. May she rest in peace.