In the Footsteps of Mary MacKillop

For the past twenty-five years, the Sisters of Saint Joseph have invited people to participate in the ‘Australian National Pilgrimage: In the Footsteps of Mary MacKillop.’

Unfortunately they have not been able to offer this opportunity of journeying with Mary in 2020.

Mary reminds us that ‘We are but travellers here.’


You are invited to read and reflect on the following article ‘St Mary MacKillop – The Pilgrim’, written by Mary Cresp rsj.

The theme of journey was never far from the thoughts of Mary MacKillop.

As the words printed around her tomb remind us, she saw life as a journey. Remember we are but travellers here, she said. The many journeys that made up her life were both actual and metaphorical. Perhaps one expressed the other. From the time Mary was a little girl moving from one relative to another to when, in her last years, she was confined to a wheelchair, she was still ‘on her way’ towards that intimacy with God that ‘heaven’ represents.

When we go on a pilgrimage, we have to ‘let go’ of the certainties of life as it has been. We have to be open to receive the unknown and to receive the hospitality of others. Mary MacKillop’s attitude to God was like that. She learnt to be open at all times to what God wanted to do in her – she called that ‘doing God’s Will’. It meant letting go of personal hopes and ambitions, entrusting them into God’s hands. With gratitude she accepted the hospitality of others – when she was vulnerable, as she was during her journeys overseas. Our journey, too, has involved a letting go that will continue into old age and finally at death, when we enter into our final journey. During our Mary MacKillop pilgrimage we can join with her as, following her footsteps, we open ourselves to receive with gratitude God’s bounty in the hospitality of others.

A pilgrim has to ‘live into the now’. Because we can’t guarantee what lies around the corner, we have to learn what it means to live life fully where we are. Don’t be troubled about the future of the Institute, Mary MacKillop said, I am not. He whose work it is will take care of it. The Gospel of her feast proclaims Jesus’ words: Do not worry about tomorrow … today’s trouble is enough for today. (Mt. 6:34) Being alive to the moment meant that Mary was alert to the needs of her time. The aspect of God’s love characteristic of the charism given her was compassion – God feeling with us in the situation of our lives. Being with another is part of being a pilgrim.

Even if travelling alone, a pilgrim is never independent. We meet others along the way, we depend on them for food and lodging, we are invited to listen to the stories of the people we encounter. In this way we learn of a God who is ever present and who, Mary knew, walks with us each step of the journey…

Continue reading Mary Cresp’s article here (PDF)