We celebrate and give thanks for the life of Sr Joan Luff.
Over 30 Sisters of Saint Joseph from across the Congregation celebrated their Diamond Jubilee in January marking 60 years since their first profession. Twenty-one of the Jubilarians were able to gather and acknowledge the event at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney where they also celebrated with fellow Sisters, family and friends.
Those Sisters who were not able to attend were remembered, particularly the 12 Sisters from this profession group now resting with God.
Mary MacKillop’s father Alexander MacKillop was born in the Lochaber district of Scotland in 1812. He died in Hamilton, Victoria (VIC) on 19 December 1868 and is buried there.
Alexander had studied for the priesthood in Rome and for a short time in his homeland in Scotland. However, as he said, “it was not God’s will that I be a priest”, and so in 1838 he migrated to Australia to start a new life.
The Beatification of Mary MacKillop was a historical time for Australians. The naming of a saint born and raised in Australia brought great joy, not only to Catholics, but to many others who had come to know and admire her.
Weatherwise, 19 January 1995 was grey, threatening to rain. In contrast, the prevailing atmosphere was one of pure happiness. You felt it everywhere! This positive atmosphere had also been at the magnificent vigil-concert/display at the Sydney Domain the evening before.
We celebrate the birth of Australia’s first canonised saint and co-founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Mary MacKillop, who was born on 15 January 1842.
Mary MacKillop’s whole life, almost from the time of her conception to her death, was overshadowed by the Cross. Father Geoghegan, priest at St. Francis’ Catholic Church, Melbourne, gave her mother Flora a relic of the Cross said to have been found by Helen, mother of the Emperor Constantine, to wear until her child was born. She would have explained to her daughter the significance of the Cross she had worn day by day during her pregnancy.
Sr Monica Cavanagh, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, joined six fellow Sisters in January to celebrate their Golden Jubilee marking 50 years since their first profession.
The Sisters travelled from across Australia and Peru, gathering with family and friends, to acknowledge their religious life journeys and ministries in education and social justice, parish pastoral care, religious leadership, and working with rural communities.
When asked to write about the feast of 6 January called ‘Epiphany’, I discovered that Eastern and Western Churches emphasise different aspects of the theme ‘manifestation’, which is the meaning of the Greek word ‘Epiphany’.
Eastern Churches focus on God’s manifestation of Jesus’ divinity at his baptism and at Cana, where he begins his public ministry. In the West, selected Mass texts highlight the early Church’s conviction that Jesus Christ has significance for all humankind. The gospel of Matthew 2:1-12 narrates the story of the Magi, an encounter between Jesus and three Oriental Wise Men, who, borne by camels, deliberately seek Jesus, bringing gifts and paying him homage.
The commencement of the Western Church’s Epiphany Mass leads towards that gospel of Matthew 2:1-12, a narrative unique to Matthew’s gospel, revealing its author’s intent to portray Jesus as the fulfilment of Israel’s prophecies. The collect prayer invites the assembly to “behold the beauty of sublime glory” embodied in Jesus.
The Sisters remember with fondness his visit to the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel (Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney) during his visit to Australia for World Youth Day 2008 when he prayed at Mary’s tomb and gifted us with a statue of St Joseph.
Pope Benedict seemed to enjoy his conversations with the Sisters, and smiled when Sr Josephine Dubiel shared, in German, that her mother came from a village less than 10km from his own birthplace, Marktl am Inn.