Reflection on Mary MacKillop

Mary MacKillop could be remembered as a great journalist in her day.

Mary MacKillop’s journals and her letters have left us a plethora of stories of herself, her family, and the early days of the colony when she was such a vital part of the community. She created images of her journeys and her compassion for the poor; we learn of her belief in the importance of education; we imbibe her sense of mission and deep spirituality.

Mary’s diaries give us a great insight into the highs and lows of her life. We learn of her illness, her loneliness, her courage and zeal.  From one of her diary entries we feel her pain and sadness as she expresses her emotions in these words:

Cried myself to sleep. Was so weary of the struggle and felt so utterly alone … offered my weary heart’s trials to my God with the wish that he could do his will and do with me what he pleased.

Mary and the early sisters used to beg to make ends meet. Throughout these stories of seeking out food, we see her compassion for the sick and the downtrodden.  She shared the little they had and sometimes gave her own meal to someone in need. While Mary was a prolific writer, many of her companions left these stories for us by recounting the events that inspired them or humoured them.  One such event is the arrival by Mary with a suckling pig to surprise Sr Patrick.  Mary notes in her diary – Great amusement over poor piggy.

Mary was a progressive woman and even after she suffered a stroke, communication was an important part of her life.  She acquired a typewriter and continued to connect with sisters and family.  She continued sending spiritual and inspirational messages until the year of her death 1909.  In January of that year she gives a heartfelt message to all of us “Do not be afraid.  Love one another”.  Her final words were a blessing – ‘God bless you all.”

We can only dream of what Mary would achieve if she enjoyed the technology that we are gifted with.  We can see her speaking via Video or Webinar.  Imagine the texts and the calls as well as the personal visits!  However, gratefully and generously Mary utilized every possibility available to her, such was her insight into the power of the word and the necessity for connection and networking.  We thank her for her amazing contribution to society and the congregation so dear to her heart.

Reflection

  • Our current way of living offers a smorgasbord of technology. Mary MacKillop fostered personal connections in a limited way.  How are we using our devices to remember our family members and friends particularly those suffering illness or hardship?
  • Humour and surprise were important to Mary MacKillop. How can we bring joy to others in everyday life in simple ways?
  • Let us be grateful for the gift of Mary.

Michele Shipperley rsj