Historical Overview

With the trend to deinstitutionalisation, many more people with psychiatric disorders are now living in the community. For example, The Park (formerly Wolston Park Hospital) had decreased in patient population from about 3,000 in 1975 to about 600 in 1989. However, support services in the community were very limited. Community mental health services were set up by the government to serve some of the needs of these people now living in the community. In South East Queensland alone, about 1200-1300 people in 1986 were living in privately owned hostels and were very much in need of pastoral care.


A Conjoint Committee of representatives of the Department of Health, in particular the Division of Psychiatric Services, and representatives of the main christian churches was formed in the mid 1980s to look at the pastoral care needs of all those suffering from mental disorders. Bishop John Gerry then called a meeting in February 1987 of interested persons from the Catholic Community to take up the challenge of the findings of the Conjoint Committee. A working party of 12 people was formed at this meeting. Bishop Gerry named the new Ministry in the Archdiocese of Brisbane "Catholic Psychiatric Pastoral Care" (CPPC). Mrs Janine De Maria, a Registered Mental Health Nurse with considerable experience in mental health nursing and training in both clinical and administrative areas, was employed by the Archdiocese as Coordinator for Catholic Psychiatric Pastoral Care. At this time Father Jim Smith and Mrs De Maria were facilitating support prayer groups for people suffering with a mental disorder. These small support prayer groups became the foundation of Catholic Companionship, one of the ministries of Catholic Psychiatric Pastoral Care. Many hundreds of people have attended Catholic Companionship and there is now a regular attendance of 60 each week.


The Church recognised that special training for pastoral carers needed to be established in the complex area of psychiatric care. Mrs De Maria established the first training program which took place in 1987. Since then the training program has been conducted every year to date. So far approximately 250 people have graduated from the Catholic Psychiatric Pastoral Care training program over the past 25 years.

Hospitals and Hostels

CPPC Pastoral care services are now established at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, Princess Alexandra Hospital, The Prince Charles Hospital, The Park, Redland Hospital, Moreton Bay Nursing Unit, Ipswich Hospital, Nambour Hospital, Caboolture Hospital, New Farm Clinic and Toowong Private Hospital, and Redcliffe Community Care Unit and Belmont Private Hospital are visited on request. Also pastoral care services are established at nine hostels within the greater Brisbane area: Clayfield House, Willow House, Pinjarra Lodge, Gracemere Ladies Home, Green Meadow Court, Herston Lodge, Montray Villa Hostel, Bayside Lodge and Victoria Gardens.

The Centre

In about April 1990 Catholic Psychiatric Pastoral Care opened a Centre at the old St Patrick's School in Morgan Street, Fortitude Valley. The Centre was relocated in the grounds of St. Patrick's Church, Fortitude Valley and was officially opened and blessed by Bishop John Gerry 31 July, 1995. This Centre is now the permanent home of Catholic Psychiatric Pastoral Care. Since mid 1989 the Centre has been partially funded by a Queensland Government (Mental Health Branch) annual grant. The Centre operates each weekday from 9.30am until 3.00pm and offers pastoral care, friendship, relaxation, communal sharing, arts and crafts, games, daily shared meals, music, Tai-Chi, card making, bingo, drama, art classes, cards, movies and trivial pursuit. Paraliturgies are held each day except Wednesday when the Rosary is recited. There is weekly Mass and weekly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the Church. Education for ministry is also provided. The Centre is managed and supported by trained pastoral carers, in conjunction with those who attend - people suffering from a mental health disorder (members).

Christian Community House

Catholic Psychiatric Pastoral Care with the support of donations and grants from Queensland Department of Housing and Local Government and Queensland Health provided a Christian Community House at Red Hill from 1991 to 2001. The House provided accommodation for six people to live together sharing their lives, supporting each other, living by the Christian Gospel, and having daily prayer together. Each resident at the House had their own Pastoral Carer, Life Style Assistant and Spiritual Director. Fr. Jim Smith was the Chaplain and Mrs Janine De Maria was the Coordinator for the House. The House also provided respite care for several people. The Christian Community House operated successfully for 10 years providing accommodation and Christian community for 20 residents. All of the residents who lived in the House regained or developed skills and independence which has enabled them to live in the community in their own accommodation.