Tomb of Mary MacKillop at the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel, North Sydney.

The feasts of All Saints and All Souls are celebrated on 1 November and 2 November respectively.

Over the first two days of November, we are invited to pray with and for everyone. We can pray with one another and the saints, as we are also reminded to remember and pray for all departed souls.

Many of us have our favourite saints and often seek their intercession for certain causes. There have been many instances, for example, when people have asked St Anthony to help them find something they’ve lost.

Although all the saints are special and have their patronages, many people have their favourite or ‘go-to’ saint(s). Two of my favourite saints are St Joseph and St Mary MacKillop. I am inspired by their humility, patience, and trust in God, and how they are action-oriented – many of their actions speak louder than words.

What does make someone a ‘saint’? Ultimately, anyone can be a saint! The definition varies considering the context. When searching on Google, the following definitions appeared; a saint is “a person acknowledged as holy or virtuous and regarded in Christian faith as being in heaven after death,” and/or “a very virtuous, kind, or patient person.” (Oxford Languages)

Many considered Mary MacKillop a living saint in her time. One example is when as Mary was preparing for death, Cardinal Moran visited her, gave his blessing and said, “I consider this day to have assisted at the deathbed of a saint”.

Mary certainly demonstrated the qualities of what makes someone a saint – many that we can strive to imitate.

It was on 17 October 2010 when Mary MacKillop was formally recognised as saint by the Catholic Church. As Pope Benedict XVI said in his address to the Bishops of Australia on their “Ad Limina” visit, over a year after Mary’s canonisation:

(Mary MacKillop) is an example of holiness and dedication to Australians and to the Church throughout the world…
She is rightly considered by her fellow Australians to be an example of personal goodness worthy of imitation…
Her vigorous faith, translated into dedicated and patient action, was her gift to Australia; her life of holiness is a wonderful gift of your country to the Church and to the world. Pope Benedict XVI, 20.10.2011

Many of us have lost loved ones who we miss and grieve. Although they are not with us physically, as Christians we believe that when we leave this world, we enter eternal life.

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
Wisdom 3:1-3

For the feast of All Souls, it gives us the opportunity to pray for our departed loved ones and to remember and cherish the memories we shared.

Although much of life and death remains a mystery, in our faith we continue to hope and pray, entrusting our loved ones (here and departed) to God.

Mary Baynie
Congregational Administration Services