Our Heritage

With faith and trust… you may be able to do more than you now dream is possible. Venerable Mary Potter


Soon after the founding of the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary, in 1877, the Sisters spread their care across the seas, and in 1885, six courageous Sisters left England to come to Sydney on the SS Liguria.

Once in Australia, the Sisters immediately set to work nursing the sick in their homes, conducting a soup kitchen and a night refuge, a school for the blind and a parish school and providing social services to those in need.

The Sisters’ reputation for compassion and care lead to invitations to serve communities across Australia. From these humble beginnings, these courageous, pioneering Sisters did all they could to “make a difference”. In a time when it was unusual for women to work outside the home, the Sisters, with support and advice, built hospitals, developed community services, negotiated agreements with governments, completed business training, and accomplished many other community projects. Caring for people in their home, teaching religious instruction, serving meals to the poor, providing health education were ministries they undertook, alongside their large institutions. They met with many obstacles but these resourceful women did what they could to overcome these challenges. Why? Simply because others believed, as Mary Potter did, that each person is unique and that they and those who came to work with them were called to meet the particular needs of each person as best they could.

Having established services of excellence in health, aged and community care alongside their other ministries, the Sisters were committed to ensuring that these ministries be continued into the future. Calvary Ministries is the formal body established by the Sisters in Australia, and approved by the Vatican for the purpose of stewarding the health, aged and community care services, which will ensure these ministries in the tradition of the Little Company of Mary and the spirit of Venerable Mary Potter continues.

Aotearoa-New Zealand

Inspired by Mother Mary Potter who said “Love alone inspires us to service”, the first Little Company of Mary Sisters came to Christchurch in 1913 and established Lewisham, later renamed Calvary Hospital. Other Calvary Hospitals and Rest Homes were later established throughout New Zealand in Wellington, Hawera and Invercargill, an outpatients Clinic in Tonga and the Mary Potter Hospice in Wellington.

When the NZ Healthcare system changed and the number of aged care facilities increased the sisters moved away from operating Hospitals and Rest Homes. The Mary Potter Hospice was gifted to the people of Wellington and is administered by a charitable trust.

Kalevale (Calvary) Clinic in Tonga is closed but the LCM Mission continues in two Catholic secondary colleges by providing care for students and Health Education.

After the Mary Potter Hospital in Christchurch was sold in 2004 the Sisters decided support for the elderly would be their future focus. Wishing to share their resources the Sisters added an additional 13 Villas to the existing Mary Potter Courts bringing the total number to 30. These provide affordable rental accommodation for low income seniors.

The Mary Potter Community Centre on site was completed in 2007. The Eucharist is celebrated at the Centre 5 days a week and a social activities programme is provided. The programme is designed to assist seniors living in the wider community who may be housebound or isolated through ill health or reduced activity. Residents of Mary Potter Courts are welcome to join in all activities.


In 1972 late Bishop Patelisio Finau SM invited the Little Company of Mary Sisters in New Zealand to Tonga. In 1974 Sisters Helen Kearns of Christchurch, New Zealand, Lusia Tupou of Houma Tonga carried the spirit of Calvary to this new mission, with courage hope and faith. As the first foundation members, the two Sisters spent three weeks at Twoomey hospital in Suva enroute to Tonga to gain some knowledge about the treatment for people suffering from skin disease. They were given hospitality by Missionary Sisters of the Society of Mary in Nuku’alofa before moving to a house in Havelu which belonged to Sivi Taumoepeau which was on loan to the Diocese. The sisters rode their bikes to Pea from Havelu for about three months until a car was purchased.

The Sisters were given a wonderful welcome by the people of Tonga especially Pea and by priests and religious of the Diocese. The clinic was situated on the ground floor of the parish church building. Kalevale Clinic was formally blessed by late Bishop Patelisio Finau on February 16 1975. The Sisters expressed the charism through their service and live out the love of God for every person which urges us to respect the human dignity of all those with whom we share our life, or to whom we are sent to minister in his name.

Kalevale Clinic ended its history of serving so many people of Tonga after 28 years in 2002. However, the LCM spirit lives on. The particular charism of this congregation is praying and caring for the sick and the dying making known the healing presence peace, love and hope in union with Mary under the shadow of Jesus cross on Calvary being present at the dying one is so special and comforting in so many ways.

Sister Lusia commenced her ministry of counselling at Takuilau College in February 2009. Sister Lusia also commenced her visitation to the Huatolitoli’s Prison in September 2015. Sister Veisinia Ha’ungatau started her ministry of Chaplain at Vaiola Hospital 200 beds in January 2015. Sr Helena Kivalu ministers at The Mango Tree Centre for the Disabled. All the Sisters are involved in pastoral visitation and the life of the Parish of Pea. The Little Company of Mary Sisters also sponsor the Mary Potter Education Project – Certificate IV in Counselling for the Teachers of the Diocese of Tonga, in partnership with the Catholic Education Office.

Truly women who live the words of Venerable Mary Potter - Let us be instruments God can use at any moment.