Mary MacKillop’s Words of Wisdom

Mary MacKillop’s words of wisdom – Take Fresh Courage.

Greetings on this 10th Anniversary of the canonisation of Mary MacKillop. Our hearts are filled with joy when we remember the excitement and gift of this day in 2010. Australians, Sisters from across the Congregation and the people with whom we had ministered were filled with great pride as we celebrated this special moment in our story.

Let us pause and remember that moment when Mary MacKillop was acclaimed as a saint of the universal church. Do you remember where you were and how you felt. My heart was filled with joy.

Let us take a moment’s silence and reflect on how the spirit of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop has continued to live on in each one since her canonisation. How has each one been gifted? How has her life continued to shape my commitment to living the Gospel way of life and to making a difference in the world?

As we celebrate on this 10th anniversary, we recall that one of her marks of holiness was her capacity to persevere in the face of adversity. She teaches us to search for the seed of opportunity in every difficulty. In 1877 Mary MacKillop wrote a letter to her Sisters in a time when their very existence was being threatened. Her ever reassuring presence encouraged her Sisters to lean into the heart of God and to ‘Take Fresh Courage’.

Mary MacKillop’s life continues to speak to the realities of our lives. COVID-19 has turned our lives upside down in a variety of ways. It has called upon all our strength and resilience to ‘Take Fresh Courage’ as we find new ways of living with hope in a chaotic world.

As we celebrate this moment, may St Mary of the Cross MacKillop wrap her love around our hearts whispering to us to ‘Take Fresh Courage’.

As we remember with gratitude this special day, may we treasure the memories and rejoice in her continued blessing for our church and our world.

We thank God for the life, wisdom and continued contribution of St Mary of the Cross to Australia and our world.

Happy celebration.

Sr Monica Cavanagh
Congregational Leader

You’re invited to view Sr Monica’s video message below…

Josephite Associates become Josephite Companions

A New Chapter for Josephite Associates.

‘Mary MacKillop Friend & Educator of the Poor’ by Sr M Brady OP

On this tenth anniversary of the canonisation of Saint Mary MacKillop, we also celebrate a milestone in the life of those women and men who are drawn to give expression to living the Gospel with a Josephite heart.

Formerly known as Josephite Associates, the Josephite Companions will launch their new name together with a new logo on Saturday 17 October 2020. In association with the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, Josephite Companions embrace the Josephite charism as they live the Gospel in their daily lives.

The Josephite Associates Movement (now Companions), stemmed from the teaching of the second Vatican Council with its vision of Church and community. Josephite Companions are women and men from all walks of life who are drawn to the spirit of St Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods and who are active in ministry in Australia, Aotearoa New Zealand, Peru, Timor-Leste and Scotland.

Josephite Companions participate in the life and mission of the Church by living out the Josephite charism through friendship, prayer and service. They firmly believe that “doing the ordinary with a Josephite heart” is a way of enriching their own lives as well as the lives of others.

Together with their new name and newly designed logo, new resources including a Companions’ Prayer and a “Discovery Program” have also been developed. All of which are for anyone wishing to explore the idea of becoming a Josephite Companion.

Josephite Companions rejoice in going forward and living life in the spirit of St Mary MacKillop as they continue God’s mission in an evolving world.

God wants us by every means in our power to lead others to life. Mary MacKillop 1899

The link to the new Josephite Companions section and their launch video will be available on the Sisters of Saint Joseph website from Saturday 17 October 2020.

Media Release: Celebrating the 10th anniversary of Saint Mary MacKillop’s canonisation

Sydney, 12 October 2020: This Saturday 17 October 2020 will mark the 10th anniversary of Saint Mary MacKillop’s canonisation at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, declaring her Australia’s first canonised saint.

Pope Benedict XVI addressed tens of thousands gathered in St Peter’s Square. About 9000 Australians travelled to celebrate this occasion.

For Catholic, Christian and secular Australians, it was a meaningful moment, celebrating the values at the heart of what it means to be Australian, as well as her witness to the sacred in everyday life. Ten years on, the Sisters of Saint Joseph invite the Australian community to take this opportunity to reflect on what the canonisation of Saint Mary MacKillop meant to Australians then, and what it means to us now.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the canonisation of Saint Mary MacKillop and the wonderful life and legacy she left behind, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart are pleased to remember her with commemorative prayers, videos, and a global vigil in her honour.

Inspiring all Australians to take courage and maintain hope as Mary did throughout her life, the theme chosen for this celebration is ‘Take Fresh Courage’. This theme chosen against the backdrop of the many challenges Australians have faced in 2020 is taken from a letter written by St Mary MacKillop in 1877.

On 16 October 2020 at 8pm AEST, the Sisters of Saint Joseph will hold Courage Hour, a global vigil of deep peace, prayer, and reflection. The Sisters invite all who may wish to participate to join the Vigil online and celebrate Mary’s life and follow her lead to ‘Take Fresh Courage’…

Please continue reading the Media Release here (PDF)

For more information, please contact:

Kathleen Norman
Communications Manager
Sisters of Saint Joseph
+61 2 8912 2722   +61 438 006 566

Join us for Courage Hour

Join us for a global Vigil to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Mary’s canonisation.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart invite you to join us for a global Vigil of deep peace, prayer and reflection to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Saint Mary MacKillop’s canonisation.

This Vigil invites us to come to peace and prayer and wrap our world in courage, that same courage from which Saint Mary MacKillop lived her life. Together let us ‘Take Fresh Courage’ for ourselves and for our world.

You may pray this Vigil alone; in a face-to-face group or perhaps join the online Guided Reflection.

The Sisters of Saint Joseph will be providing a scripted video resource that you can use for the online Guided Reflection, which is something that can be played at any time. The script for Courage Hour is also available in the Encountering St Mary MacKillop in Prayer booklet starting at page 26 available in English, Spanish and Italian on the webpage below.

Please note, the online Guided Reflection is not live and does not require you to register.

This Vigil will take place on Friday 16 October at 8:00pm your local time.

To view the video and Encountering St Mary MacKillop in Prayer booklet, visit the webpage provided below:

Celebrating Mary’s Canonisation

Together, we can all follow Mary’s lead and #TakeFreshCourage.

Our Inspirational Saint Mary of the Cross

This month we pay a special tribute to Saint Mary MacKillop as we celebrate ten years since her canonisation in Rome by Pope Benedict XVI.

As Australia’s first Saint we reflect anew on this woman close to our hearts who demonstrated a passion for justice, a respect for human dignity, the courage of her convictions and feminist leadership is our own Mary MacKillop. She set hearts of the young women who flocked to join her on fire; she was true to her values and unwaveringly acted accordingly.  She knew hardship, illness and concerns about the congregation and her family.  Her life was anchored in the love of the God she trusted and in in providential care she placed her life. As her followers we applaud her place in society, and in the church.  We appreciate the example that she has given us to live by.  May this coming celebration of the ten years since canonisation grant us a deeper understanding of her greatness and holiness and inspire us by her courage and faithfulness.

The Church solemnly proposes models of Christian life with the saints, but it does so while recognising that the people, above all, have already understood this, that certain persons incarnate the Gospel with extraordinary exemplarity, and thus become the spiritual friends of those who encounter them, fascinating guides in the love of God, in faith, in hope. Canonisations are the recognition that God’s Spirit breathes in ordinary people such as Mary,… and bears fruits of virtue that are a source of comfort and light for so many others. Fr Lombardi
At a time when real heroes are in short supply, Mary MacKillop is a true inspiration. Her heroism is all the firmer because it is built not on celebrity or sporting skill but on her love for Jesus Christ and a life of dedication to God and her fellow human beings. Australian Bishops Conference 2010

Our down to earth Mary is a Saint many can relate to, being both feisty and fearless yet human and ordinary.  We recognize her saintliness which is an inspiration which offers a vibrancy and active presence for Australians today.

Each of us will have our own jubilant recall of this great event in our lives and in the life of the Church.  Let us all look forward to the celebration with triumphant joy!

Let us take time to ponder the part that St Mary MacKillop plays in our lives by her example of life and her faith in God.

  • Can you recall where you were ten years ago when Mary’s sainthood was proclaimed?  Did you watch the event in Rome, or locally?  Perhaps you caught a glimpse on the nightly news.
  • Is Mary’s influence on your life from her from the love of the people in need, her determination in life’s events or devotion to her family?

Let us celebrate this wonderful woman and ask God’s blessings that we have the strength and inspiration to live the best life we possibly can.

Michele Shipperley rsj

Take Fresh Courage

Share the Hope.

In 1902, at the age of 60, Mary MacKillop suffered a stroke. Her mind was unaffected and her speech intelligible, but, with her right side paralysed, she had to make major adaptations to her life. She now walked with a stick and, towards the end of her life, was eventually confined to a wheelchair. She dictated letters, but also learnt to write with her left hand and took up typing – the typewriter being at the time quite a new invention. She continued to govern the Congregation of the Sisters of St Joseph as Mother General and, over the next seven years, visited Sisters all over the country, opening up new works and responding to needs wherever she found them.

Certainly, we notice deterioration in significant aspects of Mary’s life as a result of the stroke. But we also notice enrichment. Having to depend more on others, she seems to speak and write words of encouragement more often. Her letters repeat what is at the core of faith and spirituality. She was in constant pain – she described it as being like a giant toothache all through her body – but she found deeper meaning in suffering as displaying in her own body the cross of Christ for our time (cf. Colossians 1: 24).

In this, the tenth year after Mary’s canonisation in Rome on 17 October 2010, many people around the world have experienced the COVID-19 virus as a kind of communal stroke. We have been paralysed in some ways and have had to adapt to deprivations of all kinds. It is an unfamiliar world in which we carve out our future. There is a background fear in society. We are challenged to find new approaches to life.

As in the case of any trauma, our first challenge is to come to grips with reality. Ignoring the situation won’t make it go away. In the process, we must, of course, take whatever steps are needed to safeguard our emotional and mental health. Accepting help if needed is part of this. When we are helpless, maintaining pride won’t help. I think of Mary MacKillop, a strong and independent woman, now having to have someone bathe, dress and feed her in the weeks following her stroke. People who have lost their livelihoods and have to depend on the charity of others can feel incompetent and resentful. We grieve with them as they adjust to their new situation.

An old adage says, ‘Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’ We admire those who show courage. We give them bravery awards and recognise the qualities they display as they battle against the odds. ‘Character is formed in adversity’, they tell us. While all of this is true, those going through hard times often feel less than courageous. They just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It is only in looking back that we can acknowledge that something greater than ourselves kept us going despite the anguish we felt at the time. For Mary MacKillop, her trust was in a God whose love sees us through every evil, she wrote:

Let us pray for the ever dear Will of our good God to be done, and in the end we shall see what peace and happiness will result from all our sorrows.Mary MacKillop

Please continue reading below:

Take Fresh Courage – Share the Hope (PDF)

Mary Cresp rsj

Reflection on Mary MacKillop

Samela Harris, journalist, has described Mary MacKillop from the secular point of view that her father Max Harris expressed. Her strong character images of St Mary MacKillop depict, very poignantly, a saintliness, that describes her as a strong woman whom we can imagine in today’s world.

Artwork by Sr Dorothy Woodward rsj

The moment he (Max Harris) came up with that phrase (‘A Saint for all Australians’) he knew it was right and he said so. It was a simple phrase defining Mary’s egalitarian outreach which transcended the ecumenical and embraced all – from the barefooted child and the fallen woman to gentry and ecclesiastical dignitary. Max shared some of those ‘everyman’ qualities with Mary – being one of those people who connected with everybody, and who judged people not by who or what they were but by what qualities of intellect and compassion they demonstrated.

When people read of his passion for the recognition and advancement of Mary MacKillop, it was not a religious issue they perceived but the tale of an extraordinary woman whose life stood aloft. A life of exceptional merit. His love for “A Saint for All Australians” was quick to attract the attention of the Josephites.”

Max tells us Mary was” inspirational, exceptional, courageous, a woman of integrity and altruism. She was a brave feminist who stood up for what she believed, who defied an oppressive patriarchy with determination and humility. He wrote with heartfelt conviction, but also with intellectual potency and objectivity which were hallmarks of his character

And Max kept on writing about Mary, thinking about Mary, loving Mary – and delivering a steady education to the Australian public through the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

In so doing, he quietly joined the small ranks of the lay people who also had championed and helped Mary MacKillop a century before. They were an Adelaide immigrant Jew called Emanuel Solomon and a Presbyterian society queen called Joanna Barr Smith – both unlikely supporters of a young nun. But it was her social activism in the streets of Adelaide, her courage, her altruism, which inspired that support and friendship. And Max kept on writing about Mary, thinking about Mary, loving Mary – and delivering a steady education to the Australian public through the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Samela Harris – A Love Story between Mary and Max, 10 October, 2010. ABC Religion and Ethics.

Let us reflect…

  • What saintly qualities appeal to you from descriptions of Max Harris?
  • What characteristics from this account of Mary’s stance for good really inspires you?
  • Imagine the absolute courage Mary exhibited in her quest for justice.

Let us with Mary MacKillop pray for an extra measure of strength as we cope with the everyday happenings of life.

Michele Shipperley rsj

Candle image: Candle Flame Wax by stheaker obtained from Pixabay. Used with permission.

So Small a Beginning: Part 5

Sr Marie Foale speaks about the beginnings of the Institute of St Joseph for the Catholic education of poor children.

She believes that as a young Josephite growing up, she had a sense that one day Mary MacKillop and Julian Tenison Woods had made a spontaneous decision to found an order.

You’re invited to watch the fifth and final part of Sr Marie’s conference speech, ‘So Small a Beginning’ below…

Part 5

Click here to view Part 1

Click here to view Part 2

Click here to view Part 3

Click here to view Part 4