Maryborough’s Window Honours Mary’s Visit

On August 5th, the joy and pride of Fr Ed Moloney and his Maryborough parishioners were palpable as they celebrated the blessing of a beautiful new stained-glass window which honours Mary MacKillop and her visit to this district in July 1891.

In ‘A Seed is Sown’, the 1992 history of the Victorian Sisters of Saint Joseph, Joan Ryan rsj (RIP) referred to this time,  when she traced Mary’s ‘Journeys in the Ballarat Diocese’ with her companion, Sr Margaret Mary Williams.  Their plan was to visit a number of families in Maryborough and the surrounding district who had adopted or fostered children from the children’s home at Surrey Hills ( the Sisters had taken over this work from the St Vincent de Paul Society in 1890,  the year after their foundation in Victoria).  Joan Ryan wrote: “The next day, they travelled on [from Ballarat] to Maryborough where Father Lemire insisted that they stay at the presbytery. He was helping them organise the best way to reach the children they wished to visit when Mary received a telegram from Bishop John O’Reily of Port Augusta, who asked that she come to Mortlake where he was staying. They changed their plans to fit in with his wishes and were able to visit two children before catching the train to Mortlake.” (p.44)

The Maryborough window , which is striking and beautiful in its simplicity, features a smiling, youthful Mary in the centre.  She is surrounded by native flora: wattle, representing the local bush and the annual Maryborough Wattle Festival, and flowering gums symbolising Mary’s love for the Australian bush and its people … “It is an Australian who writes this…” she wrote in 1873.   In 2012, it is an Australian parish, with seven ‘bush’ Mass Centres—including Dunolly, which Mary also visited at that time—that remembers, with pride, Mary’s presence amongst their forebears so many years ago. The people of Maryborough have now honoured Mary for who she is, and immortalised her 1891 visit with a beautiful window, which is set in a small chapel that has been created out of the original entry to the church. This is now sealed. “Mary walked right through here,” I was assured by a proud parishioner!

Mary Ryan rsj


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