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A 'rock' who gave many comfort and hope

Many people have had to adjust to the fact that their "rock" is no longer with us. Nan Good, former chaplain at the Royal Women's Hospital and one of the first women to be ordained a priest in the Anglican Church, touched everyone she met in a deep and personal way, and will be missed by many.

Nan had a rare ability to understand what someone needed and to provide both practical and spiritual nurturing without fussing and without imposing her faith. Non-believers and members of other faiths were treated with the same respect and understanding as members of the church. Many turned to Nan in times of trouble or crisis and through her compassion and wise counsel she empowered them to see things differently and to find comfort and hope.

This was recognised in 2005 with the Order of Australia Medal, for services to the community through the provision of chaplaincy and pastoral care services.

Nan was born in Melbourne and educated at St Catherine's then at Melbourne University, where she studied first drama and then speech pathology. In 1952 she went to the UK for a couple of years of work and travel, and was in the crowd for Queen Elizabeth's coronation. For many years Nan was involved with the Union Theatre Repertory Company (now the MTC) and the Malvern Theatre Company; she felt her love of theatre and performance helped her in all of her working roles (speech pathologist, lecturer, chaplain, priest and counsellor), and contributed to her popularity as a speaker.

She was a talented artist. Many of her friends treasure the various artworks, beadings, sculptures, knitted things or quilted bags she loved to create; and she was delighted to be able to publish Just Anybody: The Journey of a Lifetime (Mosaic Press, Preston 2013), a memoir woven around the poetry written throughout her life. Her daughter Kate calls this "the exclamation mark on her wonderful life!"

Nan discovered religion after hearing Bryan Green speak at St Paul's Cathedral in Melbourne. Her faith eventually led to her appointment as Chaplain at the Royal Women's Hospital, from 1983 to 1995.


Nan transformed the department from a Christian religious visiting service into one of holistic spiritual caring for people from all creeds and cultures. Among other things she devised services for those who had lost babies, which have been described as beautiful events helping many, and allowing some to acknowledge their loss for the first time.

In 2001 Nan realised a long-held dream with the publication of Image and Reflection (Nightowl Press, Werribee 2001), in which she documented some of the learning and insights into herself and others gained while working at the Royal Women's.

Nan was one of the first women to be ordained a priest within the Anglican Church and was the first person to be awarded Fellowship of the Australian College of Chaplains.

Her creative approach to life was demonstrated in her presentation for her 1995 Master of Ministry at Melbourne College of Divinity. This consisted of a painting entitled A landscape of my life and ministry together with a collection of prose and poetry and a journal detailing the processes and reflections involved in the painting. This unorthodox approach prompted an invitation from the Melbourne College of Divinity to join the Board of Studies.

In Werribee, following her retirement from the hospital, Nan remained active in the church as an honorary associate priest at St Thomas'. She supported the local vicar and often filled in for him and other parish priests, and was in demand for individual spiritual and grief counselling and for weddings, baptisms and funerals. This continued until only a couple of months before she died. Nan also provided chaplaincy and pastoral care for several years at St Laurence Community Service in Lara.

She also enjoyed being able to spend time with close friends and her much-loved family - children, grandchildren and extended family - and delighted in the fact that she had been able to perform the marriage of her son Tim to Robyn!