Empathy is the key to impact, says Sister Angela Mary Doyle in her rallying message to people of all beliefs. When the government refused to help sufferers of HIV/AIDS because their leader declared the illness a direct punishment by God – Sister Angela worked secretly to help those who needed it. She speaks of why we need compassion and empathy to truly impact the lives of others. In a world that can sometimes feel violently polarised, intolerant and inequitable, Sister Angela Mary has dedicated her life to being a champion of social justice, kindness and community.
Having grown up on a farm in Ireland during World War II, she travelled to Australia in 1947, responding to a call for more Sisters of Mercy. Despite being trained as a teacher, she was dispatched to the Mater Hospital and retrained as a nurse. However, it was the area of hospital administration, in which she would make her mark. She was eventually appointed Chief Executive of the Mater Hospitals – a position she held for 22 years.
In the early ‘80s, during her tenure, complete opposition to helping those with HIV and AIDs was the norm. When the Premier of the day declared that any such illness was a punishment from God and that no help should be given, Sister Angela Mary knew that the Sisters of Mercy, an order founded for the poor, the sick and anyone disadvantaged must act. .