Sister Frances Dominica

Listen in pop-out player

This week Sue Lawley's castaway is a nun and a pioneer of the hospice movement. Sister Frances Dominica says she had always felt she was born to be a nurse and as a child would line up her dolls and teddies in pretend hospital beds and tend to them. But a dramatic revelation during her early 20s diverted her and, to the horror of her family, she abandoned her career for a contemplative life. She took her life vows in 1972 and, in 1977, at the incredibly young age of 34, was elected to be the Mother Superior of her community. The following year she met a family with a sick child and offered to give her respite care. It was that relationship which gave Sister Frances the idea of starting a children's hospice and, in 1982, Helen House opened. It was the first children's hospice in the world.

For the past four years she has been fundraising for another hospice - which she calls a Respice, a mixture of respite and hospice – Douglas House, which is geared up for the needs of adolescents and young adults. Like Helen House, it is named after a patient who made a particular mark on Frances, although he did not survive to see it opened.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: Skye Boat Song by Elinor Bennett
Book: The Earth from the Air by Yann Arthus-Bertrand
Luxury: Chaise longue with a mosquito net attached

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 13 Feb 2004 09:00


Role Contributor
PresenterSue Lawley
Interviewed GuestSister Frances Dominica
Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss