Influential pharmacist Sister Marie Therese Rosenberg has been remembered by members of the profession after she passed away this month
Sister Marie Therese, born Joan Florence Rosenberg in 1926 and the third of 10 children, was to shape many pharmacy careers.
After entering the Sisters of Mercy Brisbane in 1945, Sister Marie Therese moved to the Mater Hospital in 1950 – where she was to remain for more than 40 years.
She worked as an apprentice pharmacist until being awarded the Diploma of Pharmacy in 1952, remaining at the Mater’s pharmacy until 1993 – with the exception of four months in 1979 and 1980 when she was working with the Red Cross in Thailand.
In 1970s, Sister Marie Therese was the first in Queensland to be awarded the Diploma of Fellow of the Society of Hospital Pharmaceutical Chemists of Australia, by examination.
In 1985, she was awarded the Glaxo Medal of Merit by the SHPA Board of Directors, recognising her outstanding contribution and exemplary effort in the practice of hospital pharmacy.
She was on the SHPA Board in 1970, as well as the Brisbane South Regional Health Authority from 1993 to 1995. From 1991 to 1993, she was the Ministerial nominee on the Pharmacy Board of Queensland.
Due to COVID restrictions 20 people were permitted to attend Sister Marie Therese’s funeral, but according to advanced practice pharmacist Debbie Rigby, many more were watching via livestream.
“Sister Marie Therese had a tremendous impact on me as a young pharmacist that shaped my professionalism and love of pharmacy,” Ms Rigby said.
“It is a testament that many of us have remained friends and enjoyed our lunches with Sister several times a year over the last 40 years.
“Sister Marie Therese influenced so many pharmacists at the Mater in Brisbane.”
Pharmacist Julia Carroll was asked to speak at the funeral, “by a member of Sister Marie Therese’s birth family to say a few words on behalf of Sister’s Pharmacy family”.
“We are family because we were chosen; chosen by Sister and Joy [Bostock, who was the Deputy Pharmacist for decades; Ms Rigby said the pair were almost inseparable],” said Ms Carroll.
“There was no formal interview, no ‘addressing the criteria’, no boasting about how good you thought you were.
“You were chosen and how good they were at making those choices. I speak for many – the ‘Class of 1980 and into the early 90s’. For all of us they were the best years of our professional lives and we became and remained friends; a friendship that for many of us has lasted 40 years.”
Ms Carroll said that the Mater pharmacists continued to meet long after leaving the hospital, including with Sister Marie Therese and Ms Bostock before she passed away.
Ms Caroll concluded her eulogy with a story from Mater pharmacist Pauline, which she said “in a few words demonstrates the woman she was and why we loved her”.
“The little acts of kindness are sometimes the most remembered. When I started work at the Mater Pharmacy 45 years ago the car park was being built and we were required to park in an unlit muddy area that in the dead of winter felt isolated.
“I was the last to leave and Sister noticed that I was a little nervous, asked me why and then offered to walk with me to the car park.
“I said ‘But then you will have to walk back alone,’ and she said ‘Of course I won’t. You’ll drive me back’. She was smarter than me as well as kinder!
“Thank you, Sister, for being in our lives.”