In 1906, a Dr McLeod from Hurstville called Sister Mary Cecelia to ask if she would take in an old man dying in a miserable hut. All 24 beds in the tiny hospice were full. However, adhering to their Mission of caring for the poor and needy, the Sisters set up a small parlour to make him comfortable and to provide him with loving care in his final days.
The man – an Irishman called Joseph Holloway – was not used to such care, and refused to allow any of his clothing to be removed, apart from his coat. A Catholic who had not practiced his religion for many years, he asked to see a priest, from whom he received Extreme Unction and the Holy Viactum.
After he had made his peace with God, he began to realise that he was much more comfortable than he had been for a long time. He asked how the Hospice was supported and if they had any debt. He then asked for a solicitor, who later told Sister Mary Cecilia that he had left all his worldly goods to the Hospice – but added, “I think he is suffering from delusions”.
The Sister replied, “his intentions are good and he must have someone praying for him in heaven for he has obtained much grace.” When she went to sooth the dying man he produced from his trouser pocket three or four bank-books showing a fixed deposit in various banks. He gave these to the Sister and said the solicitor would fix them up for her. The reason for his concern about removing his clothing now became clear.
Holloway died a few days later, thanking God for making his last days in this world so happy.
When his books were examined it was found he had left £2400 (approximately $300,000 today) for the Hospice. Some of the money was put aside for masses and a headstone was erected over his grave. The rest was used to help purchase the Female School of Industry from department store owner Mark Foy, to build a bigger Hospice.