Work starts in Wellington

The Sisters immediately started work with Wellington’s suffering and destitute planning a much-needed home. They set up a soup kitchen (that still operates today) and a crèche for children of working parents. Land was bought in Island Bay and, in 1907, the Home of Compassion was opened.

Suzanne never stood still, her reputation spreading far and wide. She rose to every challenge that came her way, travelling to Rome in 1913 at the age of 78 to present her case to the Pope.

More than four years later, Pope Benedict XV granted the Decree of Praise to the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion. The Decree changed everything:

  • It protected all the works she had started
  • It widened her scope for healthcare
  • It protected her resolution that their work would be for everyone
  • It recognised her interpretation of New Zealand society and spirituality

In early 1920 a frail but triumphant Suzanne returned home to Island Bay to the Sisters who, in her absence, had remained true to her cause. Back at the helm, she arranged for extensive alterations to the home for a surgical section and, in 1922, the Sisters began nursing training for the new hospital.

Sisters working in the Soup Kitchen in Wellington.

On 1 October 1926 at the age of 91, Suzanne died in the presence of her Sisters. As word spread, the crowds gathered to pay their respects. Wellington’s streets and roofs were packed with people silently watching the hearse pass by. It was widely reported to be the greatest ever funeral accorded to a woman in New Zealand.

Suzanne Aubert was buried at Karori cemetery, her remains being transferred to the home she founded in Island Bay 25 years later.

Wellington streets lined with mourners for Suzanne Aubert as shown in The Auckland Weekly News.