Opened in 1960, St Raphael’s was originally located in Fullarton and operated as a nursing home for elderly Catholic blind people. (St Raphael is the patron saint of the visually impaired).
The Daughters of Charity took over running the home in 1965 but after a few years had to withdraw due to other demanding charitable missions. In 1971 the Franciscan Sisters assumed responsibilities of the home and a decade later received ownership from the Catholic Blind Association.
Over time, it became apparent that the Fullarton premises needed to undergo huge repairs to meet the government’s building requirements and the Sisters began looking for alternative locations.
The late Fr Giles Ferriggi OFM learned that the Sisters were having difficulty finding a new site and offered them the vacant land behind the friary. After securing the site at Franciscan Avenue, Lockleys, a new aged care home and convent for the Sisters was built and on October 4 1987 the first residents were transferred from Fullarton.
On October 25 that year the home was officially opened and blessed by Archbishop Gleeson.
Sr Bonnie Attard FCJ recalled this occasion and said it was attended by many Sisters from the Order, including two from Mackay – Sr Ottavia Monsigneur, the Regional Superior of the time, and Sr Saveriana Caruana, whose professional expertise in building and maintenance was invaluable during the building process.
Over the years many of the Sisters were transferred to other communities, never to be replaced. For the past five years the religious community has comprised Sr Bonnie, Sr Anna Mifsud and Sr Leonide Magro, who recently died.
While the Franciscan Sisters remain the sole owners of St Raphael’s, the Society of St Hilarion now assists with the clinical care and operation of the home.
“We continue to provide pastoral and spiritual care, along with daily support to the residents, and endeavour to continue our Christian ministry of healing with simplicity, joy and compassion through a life full of compassion towards one another and those who are in our care,” Sr Bonnie said.
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