Mary MacKillop statue at St Francis’ Church in Melbourne VIC.

During a recent trip to Melbourne, I attended Mass at St Francis’ Church in the city. This is a special church as it is Victoria’s oldest Catholic Church, where Mary MacKillop’s parents were married, and where Mary had the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion.

Visiting St Francis’ Church, which was a significant church in the life of Mary MacKillop and attending Mass there on the first Sunday of Advent, inspired me to reflect on the season of Advent and how it relates to Mary MacKillop.

Advent is a time full of anticipation leading up to Christmas where we celebrate the birth of our saviour and Lord Jesus Christ. Additionally, as Genevieve Ryan rsj shares, “Advent is a time of longing and waiting”. [1]

There were many times in Mary MacKillop’s life where “she waited and long[ed] for [God] to make his will known”. Mary always had trust in God’s providence and will and is a great example of someone who had the virtue of patience. She expressed these qualities in her writings when she wrote to her mother Flora, after her excommunication was lifted, that “God wisely permitted it for a hidden and mysterious end”. (26 February 1872)

Perhaps there are things in our lives that we’re waiting and longing for. We may have prayers that we would like answered, hopes and dreams we would like to fulfill or injustices that we would like to be seen made right.

When I reflect on the life of Mary MacKillop and my own life, I can see the hand of God in many of life situations. At the time, you may wonder why some things don’t go your way, however sometimes God has other plans for your life that you don’t realise until later.

As Genevieve Ryan rsj wrote, “Mary MacKillop journeyed through her Advent seasons with the same challenges that face us as we wait for the unknown or as we prepare for some new phase of our lives”.

There were many moments in Mary MacKillop’s life where although she was going through many hardships, she was able to remain faith-filled, knowing that God had reasons for her hardships. She also knew that she had a role in fulfilling God’s mission on earth.

In this season of Advent while we are waiting and longing to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we can reflect and pray, volunteer, help prepare for the Christmas festivities, spend time with loved ones and do acts of charity.

“In companionship with Mary MacKillop let us pray that her willingness to give God such a central place in her life at these times might inspire us to move slowly through the Advent experience and to explore it well.” (Genevieve Ryan rsj)

Then on Christmas Day,

We can all meet together in spirit at the Crib of our loving infant and pray for one another.
Mary MacKillop 1881

If you would like to reflect more on Mary MacKillop and Advent, you’re invited to view the resource Seasons of Grace: Praying with Mary MacKillop (Advent) by Genevieve Ryan rsj here.

Mary Baynie
Congregational Administration Services


[1] Seasons of Grace: Praying with Mary MacKillop (Advent) , Genevieve Ryan rsj. Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph 2010.