On Tuesday 22 October, 21 people arrived in Melbourne to participate in the National Pilgrimage – In the Footsteps of Mary MacKillop.

During the time of pilgrimage, pilgrims had the opportunity to hear of the struggles, joys, hopes and dreams of Mary, her family and Father Julian Tenison Woods and the needs of the early white settlers in this country.

While in places of significance in this story, pilgrims were invited to be conscious of the importance of ‘place’ and how this could impact on them if they allowed themselves to be present to it. At these places they took time to pray, in thanksgiving, praise, petition.

One of the significant places we visited was the home of Peter MacKillop’s, Mary’s uncle, at Lara near Geelong in Victoria. Peter owned this place and offered hospitality to Mary’s mother, Flora MacKillop, and Maggie and Peter, Mary’s brother and sister. Here pilgrims were invited to remember the hospitality they have received from others; the hospitality they have offered others and the ways in which they have experienced the incredible hospitality of God.

Pilgrimage calls us to reflect on our own life and the revelation of God within it and the lives of others. Much time was given for pilgrims to intentionally enter into this reflection. As they heard the beginnings of Mary’s story and the influence of her parents in her life, the pilgrims were encouraged to look at their own beginnings and family life and how they have been shaped into the person each is today.

As this pilgrimage within the pilgrimage came to an end, a few pilgrims were invited to share what this experience meant for them:

What a great opportunity for personal and spiritual renewal through hearing about and experiencing the efforts and achievements of Mary MacKillop and Julian T. Woods, despite their setbacks and challenges. Wish I had heard about it sooner!Kevin
To walk in Mary and Julian’s footsteps has been a privilege. To feel the pain, the excitement, the joy and also peace has been such a journey, never to be forgotten.Terri
Reflecting now on the Pilgrimage journey, it is no longer simply the journey of St Mary MacKillop and Fr Julian Woods, but I learned more about my own journey of life, how I had to leave my own country of birth behind and trust God that there was a new life ahead of me. God was with my family then and is still present to us now. Thank you for showing me the faith journey of Mary and Julian.Nick
This pilgrimage of Mary MacKillop has given me the opportunity to listen to the stories of Mary and Julian Tenison Woods as the layers have been peeled back on their lives, dreams, hope and achievements.
Through the collection of prayers, reflections and hymns of the past days, I have been provided with the opportunities to reflect on my life and drew on the patience Mary MacKillop that she practised through the trials, tribulations and challenges of her journey.
I pray that I may develop a stillness to become more aware of the love and compassion of Jesus in my daily life.Cathy

You might like to follow the pilgrimage in more detail by accessing the Mary MacKillop Place Facebook page below:

Mary MacKillop Place Facebook Page

View some photos from the pilgrimage in the gallery below:

Sign outside the site of the Night School and Providence in Melbourne, Victoria
Peter MacKillop's (Mary's uncle) home in Lara, Victoria
Alexander MacKillop's (Mary's father) grave in Hamilton, Victoria
Stable Park in Penola, South Australia
Franklin Street Chapel and Convent in Adelaide, South Australia