There is a quote on Mary MacKillop’s tomb which reads, “We are but travellers here”. Mary was very aware of life as a journey, made up of many smaller journeys, both actual and metaphorical.
The one great journey is that of moving toward the fullness of our relationship with God, which we call ‘heaven’. The Australian National Pilgrimage: In the Footsteps of Mary MacKillop is one of these smaller journeys.
The feasts of All Saints and All Souls are celebrated on 1 November and 2 November respectively.
Over the first two days of November, we are invited to pray with and for everyone. We can pray with one another and the saints, as we are also reminded to remember and pray for all departed souls.
The pandemic was a time that surprised the world. It was never thought that the COVID-19 virus could challenge humanity on the domination of Earth. A fixation on daily death numbers, anguish, despair, pain, violence, lack of food and work, medicine, etc. all reigned.
But all believers in God had hope in God. It is there, where the Josephite mission stood out. There St Mary MacKillop reappeared, through the Josephites, with great strength, through personal and community prayer (Companions, Affiliates, Sisters and sympathisers or friends).
Canonisation celebrations at Mary MacKillop Place, 2010.
For the canonisation of Mary MacKillop, all roads led to Rome on 17 October 2010. For those of us in Australia, all roads led to Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney.
At the time, I was blessed to be working at Mary MacKillop Place as a member of our Pastoral Care Team. I spent six and a half wonderful years as part of that great team. It was such a busy time for us, answering phone calls and emails from all over Australia and other parts of the world. The people were requesting prayers and Novenas to Mary MacKillop for their loved ones who were seeking Mary’s intercession for healing and to answer their many intentions.
In 1866, together with Father Julian Tenison Woods, Mary MacKillop founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart and opened a school to provide free education for the children of Penola, South Australia. From this small beginning, Mary went on to establish Catholic schools and places of refuge for the working class and poor across Australia and New Zealand.
Mary wanted to serve Jesus in the poor. Whoever they were, whatever their needs, it was the poor who called her into service. Mary was moved by the lack of education, medical care and social services amongst the poor she saw around her. She worked tirelessly to make a difference, to uphold the dignity of the most marginalised, dejected and deprived.
At the heart of Mary MacKillop Place located in North Sydney, New South Wales, is the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel. The Chapel was built in 1913 in memory of Mary MacKillop and shortly after, it was dedicated by the Archbishop Michael Kelly in 1914. Mary’s body was exhumed from the Gore Hill Cemetery and reinterred in the Chapel.
However, the story of Mary MacKillop Place begins before this. In 1883, Mary MacKillop was banished from Adelaide and travelled to Sydney where Sisters we already ministering. For a time, Mary resided at the Providence in Cumberland Street, The Rocks.
I’m so thankful to be part of the Josephite family and share stories with you about the work we’re doing at Mary MacKillop Today. Like you, I am truly inspired by the extraordinary ‘can help’ spirit of Mary MacKillop and the Sisters of Saint Joseph who travelled to set up schools in Australia’s remote communities.
But as you know, Mary’s work isn’t yet finished. Many children and adults are still unable to break the cycle of poverty because they can’t access education. And together, with our shared calling to uphold Mary’s legacy, I know we can continue her mission today.
A Message from Sr Monica Cavanagh, Congregational Leader, Sisters of Saint Joseph.
Greetings for the feast of Saint Mary MacKillop (8 August).
As we join in celebrating Mary MacKillop’s feast this year, we are called to embrace the values that were at the heart of all she did. Her deep love for those she encountered along the journey of life came from knowing that she was the beloved of God. She was described by her Sisters as being a big-hearted woman whose love knew no boundaries.