Year of Indigenous Languages: French and Swahili

The United Nations has declared 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. To celebrate, for each month this year, you’re invited to view greetings for different languages.

For June, we feature the languages French and Swahili:


Traditional New Year’s Day Blessing:
Seigneur, nous te remercions pour l’année écoulée et nous t’offrons la nouvelle année. Je te rends grâce pour mes enfants et petits-enfants. Garde-les dans ton amour et révèle-leur ton visage de joie et de miséricorde. Que le Père, le Fils et l’Esprit vous bénissent maintenant et à jamais. – Lord we thank you for the year past, and we offer you the new year. I thank you for my children and grandchildren. Keep them in Your love and show them your face of joy and mercy. May the Father , the son and the Spirit bless you now and forever. Amen.

Swahili (Kiswahili)

Habari za siku nyingi? – What is the news of many days?

To find out more on the International Year of Indigenous Languages, visit their website below:

The International Year of Indigenous Languages

Image Elephant Herd Tanzania obtained from Max Pixel. Used with permission.

Mary’s Words Still Inspiring Us!

Over many months, as we have pondered Val DeBrenni’s Stations of the Cross: a Journey with Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, we have reflected on the parallel journeys of Jesus and Mary MacKillop, and how their Way of the Cross can inspire and shape our own lives.

Last month, in our final reflection on this particular journey, we reflected on the Easter story, and how Mary MacKillop has shown us what it means to live in the light of Jesus’ Resurrection.

This month, as we turn to a new source of inspiration, we invite you to embark on a new odyssey! In the coming months, we shall mine Sue and Leo Kane’s The Little Brown Book Too, for the gold that they have discovered through reflecting upon snippets of letters penned by Mary, and recognising that her words, written so many years ago, can inspire us again and again in our everyday lives.

Finding God in a grain of sand…

In working for God, we must have little trials…Mary MacKillop 1874

There’s an old saying that goes: ‘It’s not the mountain ahead that matters, it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.’

In 1873-74, Mary MacKillop had to be away from Australia. She travelled alone to Europe, an astonishing thing for a young woman to take on in those days. The ‘mountain ahead’ for her was getting the Sisters’ Rule approved. The ‘grains of sand’ were the setbacks she met along the way:

Had some little crosses and was silly enough to feel very lonely and sad… Mary MacKillop 1874

We all struggle, at times, to focus on the vision that keeps us going, especially when those ‘grains of sand’ bring us down to earth. But really, that can be a good thing! Because they can help to dispel unreal expectations we may have of ourselves. Wouldn’t the ‘music of life’ be very bland without an underlying bass beat? When we try to befriend our dark moments, we can start to recognise ‘God’s whisperings’ within them…

I am weary, but I love God’s dear will… Mary MacKillop 1874
Awaken, O love! O You who created me, return to my side; forget me not in my weakness… Psalm 10:12

The above is an extract from The Little Brown Book Too (pages 128-129)

© Sue and Leo Kane 2011

Used with the kind permission of the publishers, St Paul’s Publications

Available online and from some Mary MacKillop Centres.

Download the print version of this reflection (PDF)

Image: Sand, shell and shadow by Mary Ryan rsj. Used with permission.

Listen to the Voice of Sophia

Elaine Wainwright focuses on Sophia’s song of delight in creation in Proverbs 8:22-31.

We seldom hear readings from the Book of Proverbs in our liturgies. We’re familiar with the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, and the historical Narratives — from Joshua to the Books of the Kings. We pray the Psalms regularly which are part of the third segment of the Bible — Wisdom Literature. But it is rare to hear readings from other books in the Wisdom collection.

The extract from Proverbs 8:22-31 is not typical of the maxims or proverbs that give the book its name. Rather it is a song of praise in the voice of Sophia/Wisdom of the one who created and shapes the universe. Sophia sings she is there — caught up in the creative activity as the foundations are laid down. “I was by your side”, she says to the divine one, “a unique craftswoman”…

Continue reading the article below:

Tui Motu Issue 238, June 2019 (PDF)


Elaine Wainwright is a biblical scholar specialising in eco-feminist interpretation and is currently writing a Wisdom Commentary on Matthew’s Gospel.
Painting: The Creation Song by Shiloh Sophia McCloud © Used with

Ascension of Jesus

As the flames leapt into the sky and smoke billowed out of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris people stood looking on in shock, disbelief and grief.

Something of the story of this significant and historic building was changing. The response from around the world is extremely generous. The Yellow Vests have been demonstrating sometimes peacefully and other times violently to draw attention to their low wages and struggle to live an acceptable standard of living. What happened to their actions and voices?

Would it be fair to say that the latest bombings and subsequent killings creating fear and chaos in Sri Lanka were incited by warped Idealism?

The incarceration of Cardinal Pell and other Clerics has disturbed the foundations of our Australian Church. What needs to change? If we want changes what role am I prepared to take on?  How do I advocate for change in a way that is non-violent and respectful of the rights and views of others?

The story of the Ascension left the disciples standing looking on in confusion and possibly grief if not disbelief. Donal Nearly sj writes:

The feast of the Ascension seems to be more about the apostles going out than Jesus going up! … We are to share what we have received, speak of what we have seen and heard. Donal Nearly sj

How can we as mature, educated adults respond as they did?

From a Sacred Space Reading; “Heaven is not a place at all. It is our definitive relationship with God, just as hell is the eternal severing of that relationship. ‘Heaven’ is where God is; and to be with God is to be ‘in heaven’”

Jesus gave the disciples their mission to go out beyond the familiar and comfortable to other spaces where there is difference and challenge. Is it time now for the laity to break out of a passive state induced by our acceptance of rule by clericalism in an institutional Church that is crumbling?

Is it a time for healing, compassion, gentleness and tenderness as the Pope continues to appeal to us?

Richard Rohr in a reflection on the Ascension speaks of the nine days after the Ascension. Nine days of space and of absence, that ‘alone’ time, allowing the divine Spirit within room to stretch and act.

No longer alone, the gifts of the Divine Spirit enable the action that is needed to bring about harmony, healing and wholeness.  It requires a taking of personal responsibility for bringing this about, as it took the courage of the disciples to spread the Good News, the voices of the Yellow Shirts to speak up for the poor, the courage of a 15-year-old Greta Thunberg to challenge the leaders of the world to care for Earth.

How long will the transformation take?

All of our time with God is linking heaven and earth, and we are sharers in his divinity as he is in our humanity. Far from being the absence of Jesus, it is his presence in a new way among us.Donal Neary sj

Alma Cabassi rsj

Photo by Motoki Tonn obtained on Unsplash. Used with permission.

National Reconciliation Week 2019

Grounded in Truth: Walking Together With Courage.

Australian Story recently featured the famous and very popular folk/pop quartet “The Seekers”. Listening to their story and particularly the story of their breakup and ongoing relationships, gave me some insight into what might be involved in creatively living into or engaging with this year’s theme for National Reconciliation Week –Grounded in Truth Walk Together With Courage.

The Seekers formed in Melbourne in 1962 and in 1964 travelled to the UK on the Fairsky as “on board” entertainment. Once in the UK they became very popular and were signed up by EMI Records. However Judith Durham by her own admission was a perfectionist and sometimes felt artistically on another page to the three men. In 1968 after an incident on stage in New Zealand she decided to act on her growing desire to go solo, which spelt the end for the Seekers. For Bruce Woodley this caused an end to many of his aspirations, and just when they were being offered a new record deal.

The Seekers Silver Jubilee CD cover shot

Years later Bruce wrote to Judith because he felt uneasy in his heart, about the resentment towards her, that he was carrying. He wanted her to know how hurt he was by the breakup and how it affected him. Judith could not believe what she was reading. She had no idea of Bruce’s feelings, as for her, she had given them all notice of her plans, she thought they were all okay with them. In 1990 after Judith’s car accident the group rallied around her. When Bruce and Judith met, Judith apologised to Bruce and said sorry for the hurt she had caused him. Bruce was impressed by her bravery in saying sorry and for him he could finally let go of his resentment and hurt.

The story of Bruce and Judith’s reconciliation highlights the central role of “truth telling” in healing and reconciliation.

Reconciliation Barometer

The Reconciliation Barometer, a biannual survey undertaken in Australia which measures the progress of reconciliation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians, indicates that 80% of the general community and 91% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples widely believe it’s important to undertake a formal truth telling process, in relation to Australia’s shared history.

Reconciliation is ultimately about relationships and like all effective relationships the one between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians must be grounded in truth, there can be no trust without an honest, open conversation about our history. Karen Mundine, CEO Reconciliation Australia

Many stories of the Australian frontier have been hidden or denied. In telling some of these stories during March of 2019 The Guardian series, The Killing Times, counts the human cost of more than a century of frontier bloodshed and asks, are we ready for truth telling?

Dr. Paula Green the director of the Karuna Centre for Peacebuilding in the USA refers to Reconciliation as a “A Path of Courage, Commitment and Compassion. It was this for Bruce Woodley and Judith Durham. What can it be for us?

During NRW, let us also be inspired to ‘walk together with courage’ as we contribute to building stronger relationships based on truth telling. You might:

  • read an article from the online Guardian series mentioned above
  • visit the digital map of the sites of the Frontier Wars created by The University of Newcastle’s Professor Lyndall Ryan
  • create a time when the community can gather to pray the Sorry and Reconciliation Prayer from Vol 1 Pg 48 Josephite Prayer Bk or Pg 44 of Act Love and Walk

Marianne Zeinstra rsj

Visit the ‘Reconciliation Australia’ website


National Reconciliation Week image sourced from their website.
Photo of The Seekers sourced from their website.
Reconciliation Barometer sourced from a 2010 Public Document from their website.

Melbourne’s Second Providence Immortalised in Glass

Here in Melbourne, Australia’s most liveable city, we had the official unveiling of the graphics on the exterior of the Department of Lands Water, Environment and Parks Building on Wednesday 13 March at 11.00am in the buildings newly refurbished people’s foyer.

Image of Providence No. 2 in Victoria Parade

The official unveiling of the graphic of the second Providence of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Melbourne and a corresponding graphic with an explanatory text, was hosted by Kathryn Anderson, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Environment, Water, Land and Planning.  The staff supported by the building’s owners, “Dexus,” were responsible for the graphic design and its installation on the corner of Nicholson Street and Victoria Parade, one of Melbourne’s busiest intersections. Kathryn spoke very movingly of Mary MacKillop’s life and in particular the work of Mary and her Sisters of Saint Joseph in this very poor and depraved area of Melbourne in the 1890s.

Sr Kerrie Cusack, Regional Leader of the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Victoria-Tasmania, spoke of her delight in seeing the work of Mary and the Sisters of Saint Joseph being acknowledged as part of the history of this area of Melbourne, so close to where Mary established the first providence together with a day school for the poor and needy children and a night school for young servant girls and factory workers. Sr Helen Smith spoke beautifully of a couple of ‘lively’ stories of occurrences recorded in Mary’s own letters or in correspondence to Mary from her Sisters.

Garry McLean, CEO of the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre thanked Kathryn and members of her department including Kelly Crosthwaite, Angelo Guastella and the Infrastructure Services Team.

Sr Kerrie Cusack and Angelo Guastella

The five metre graphics face Victoria Parade. There is a photograph of the original building where the second providence was established by Mary and the Sisters of Saint Joseph in 1892. The second five metre graphic provides a written synopsis of the work of Mary and the Sisters of Saint Joseph in this area of a fledgling Melbourne in the 1890s. It also recalls the other two Providences and the final permanent St Joseph’s Providence established at 362 Albert Street East Melbourne, which is now the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre.

The windows project transpired through a chance meeting at a function between Kelly Crosthwaithe and Patricia Williams rsj.  Patricia explained to Kelly that where she worked was “Sacred Ground” because it was the site of  Mary MacKillop’s Providence No. 2.  Patricia suggested that it would be good if the spot could be marked.  Kelly took up the idea and persisted with it till we have what we see here today.

Garry McLean
CEO Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre, East Melbourne


Sr Kerrie Cusack and Angelo Guastella
The windows prior to the unveiling
The Story Window in Victoria Parade
Kathryn Anderson and Sr Helen Smith
Image of Providence No. 2 in Victoria Parade
The Story Window temporarily covered for renovations


Photos courtesy of Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre Staff. Used with permission.

First Tasmanian Foundation, Westbury 1887

24 May – a significant day for Sisters of Saint Joseph in Tasmania

May 24 has been a significant date in Catholic history since 1815 when Pope Pius VII declared it to be the feast day of Our Lady Help of Christians—marking the date of his release from imprisonment by Napoleon during the French occupation of Rome in 1814.

In 1844 the bishops attending the first provincial synod of the Church in Australia decided that it be placed under the patronage of Mary, Help of Christians.  This happened at a significant time in our history. British settlement was just over fifty years old, the transportation of convicts was coming to an end, and the first elections in Australian history had been held in the previous year. Issues of land, immigration and education had begun to surface and the Church was becoming involved with these social problems.

The infant church in Australia had a special reason for turning to Mary.  The British Government had forbidden priests to come to the colony at the time of settlement in 1788. The first Catholic priests, who arrived as convicts in 1800, had been convicted for “complicity” in the Irish 1798 Rebellion. One of their number was conditionally emancipated and permitted to celebrate Mass under strict conditions for about one year only. The first resident priests, John Joseph Therry and Philip Connolly, arrived in 1820. During those long years of deprivation of Mass and the sacraments, it was largely the Rosary that kept the faith alive.

For the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Tasmania, 24 May has an extra significance. It was on this day in 1887 that Sisters Francis McCarthy, Stanislaus Doyle, Joseph Eather, Patrick Nolan and Teresa Prendergast arrived in Westbury.  They had travelled from Perthville (Bathurst) to Sydney by train and then by ship to Launceston before arriving at their final destination – without doubt a long and often uncomfortable journey.

Sister Francis who was 37 years old had come to Australia from Ireland to enter the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Bathurst 13 years earlier.  Sister Stanislaus was 25 and had come from County Wexford to Bathurst as a young child with her family.  She had been a Sister of Saint Joseph for five years.  Sister Joseph, from Newcastle, NSW, was aged 27 and had been finally professed as a Sister of Saint Joseph only two weeks before she left for Tasmania.  She had been known as Sister Mary Bernard for the previous eight years but changed her name to Sister Joseph so that the tradition of having a Sister Joseph in each new group could be maintained.[i]  Sister Patrick, from Kerry, Ireland, was aged 60 and had been a Sister of Saint Joseph for only 12 years.  Sister Teresa, possibly a niece of Sister Stanislaus, aged 21, was from Victoria and had been a Sister of Saint Joseph for four years.[ii]

Continue reading Carmel’s article below:

First Tasmanian Foundation, Westbury 1887 (PDF)

Carmel Jones rsj

Visit the Sisters of Saint Joseph Tasmanian history page here:

[i] Sisters from Bathurst had previously been sent to make foundations at Wanganui, New Zealand 1880, Goulburn, NSW 1882, Lochinvar, NSW 1883.)
[ii] Reference:   Josephine Brady,  St Joseph’s Island, ATF, 2012 pp 17-27.
[iii] Julian E.T. Woods, Rules of the Institute of St Joseph for the Catholic Education of Poor Children, Adelaide, 1867, Article 4.. It is interesting to note that in the Customs and Practices of the Institute of The Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart of The Archdiocese of Hobart, Melbourne, 1940, “as much recreation as is convenient is allowed”
[iv] After Angelus a prayer for the conversion of Australia invoking the intercession of Mary, Help of Christians, was part of the Sisters’ daily routine.
[v] Letter JET Woods to Sister Francis McCarthy, August 1887.
[vi] ‘Westbury Diary’, in Sisters of St Joseph Archives, New Town Tasmania, 1887.
[vii] The Monitor 29 May 1908

Photo from the Sisters of Saint Joseph archives in New Town, Tasmania. Used with permission.

National Volunteer Week 2019

National Volunteer Week is held from 20 until 26 May 2019.

I wish to dedicate this article to all those who so generously volunteer at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney.

Many people come daily to Mary MacKillop Place as pilgrims to sit quietly in the chapel and to visit Mary’s tomb. Many share the hospitality of the Café and Shop as well as Tour the Museum.

Without the women and men who come here each day to volunteer in the various places where help is always needed, we would be unable to do the work that is required for our Pilgrims.

Each Volunteer has to be initiated into the Department in which they wish to work. This requires an Interview with the Volunteer Co-ordinator and the Department Manager who will take them through what is required.  All Volunteers must have a Working With Children Check Number.

Our volunteers are found in the:

Chapel: i) The Pastoral Carers sit at the back of the chapel and are available for those who wish to speak with them. We have 25 volunteers who are rostered weekly, fortnightly or monthly and ii) We have a number of volunteers who keep the Chapel, Tomb Area and reflection Room clean and tidy.

Café/Shop: is where the greater number of volunteers help out. We depend on their generosity to welcome and serve those who come in each day. Some days are busier than others, such as Wednesdays, the 8th of the Month and each Sunday after Mass.

Museum:  Each year we have a number of schools, Parish Groups, Probus Clubs and Senior Groups who book in regularly. Our dedicated Guides take them through the Museum sharing the Story of Mary MacKillop and showing them hospitality. Our Guides are trained and keep up to date with the many changes that occur during the year in the Museum. Volunteers also work with the Curator and Archivist.

Pastoral Care Office: This is where a lot of behind the scenes work takes place often generated by those who work in the Chapel. The answering of prayer requests by ‘phone is a very privileged role. The Recording of Novenas, typing prayer lists to put beside Mary’s tomb, replacing necessary supplies in the Chapel are just some of the roles required. Many of our Volunteers are kept busy by helping the Pastoral Care Staff do those jobs which require many hands. Our volunteers are generous, cheerful, loyal and greatly appreciated by the Sisters of Saint Joseph whom they serve.

On Mary MacKillop’s Feast Day on 8 August, all volunteers regardless of which days they normally attend are on hand to help out. This is a great witness of the work of our Volunteers who work here at Mary MacKillop Place throughout the year.

Marie McAlister rsj

Find out more about volunteering at Mary MacKillop Place

Visit the National Volunteer Week website


Photos provided by Sr Marie McAlister. Used with permission.