St Mary MacKillop in the Pandemic and Post-Pandemic

Photo by Nick Fewings.

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).

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Mary MacKillop’s Canonisation Anniversary

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.

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Making A Difference – A Reflection on St Mary MacKillop

Sculpture by Judith Rolevink located outside St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Adelaide, South Australia.
Never see a need without doing something about it.Mary MacKillop

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.

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Mary MacKillop Place – Out of the Ordinary

Front of the Mary MacKilop Memorial Chapel, North Sydney, New South Wales.
Alma Cottage, North Sydney, New South Wales.
Tomb of St Mary MacKillop in the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel.
Photograph of the Opening of St Joseph’s Domestic Science School 1930, 405-143, Mount Street North Sydney Photograph Collection, Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart Congregational Archives, North Sydney, New South Wales.

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.

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Keeping St Mary MacKillop’s legacy alive

Children living in informal settlements are able to access vital early childhood education through the Mobile Kindy in Fiji.

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.

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Saint Mary MacKillop Feast Day 2022

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.

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Mary MacKillop Feast Day Celebrations 2022

External shot of the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel and Mary MacKillop Place.

Mary MacKillop Place and the Sisters of Saint Joseph extend a warm invitation to celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop on Monday, 8 August 2022.

“After two years of disruption due to COVID, we look forward to welcoming pilgrims and supporters to Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney,” says Sr Monica Cavanagh, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

“Mary MacKillop Place is a site unlike any other because Mary lived, died and is buried here.”

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Responding to a Call

Statue by sculptor Judith Rolevink, located outside the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel, North Sydney NSW.

The phone rang as I was locking up the house before going to Saturday night Mass. It was the bishop wanting to know if I would go to a country town, 400 kilometres away to train people in leading Liturgy of the Word with Communion.

The parish had recently lost their priest, with no replacement available in the diocese. I assured the bishop that I would go. This was a call something like Mary MacKillop had envisaged for the Sisters of Saint Joseph long ago.

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