Excursion to Mary MacKillop Place

Boundless, a young adults group from the Northern Suburbs of Sydney, recently visited Mary MacKillop Place, North Sydney to learn more about Saint Mary MacKillop.


With Saint Mary MacKillop’s Feast Day approaching on 8 August, I thought it was a great opportunity to organise and invite members of my young adults group ‘Boundless’ to an excursion to Mary MacKillop Place.

On Sunday 4 August, we made our way to Mary MacKillop Place where we started our day attending 10am Mass at the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel.

Following Mass, we made our way to the Mary MacKillop Place Museum where I was to lead the museum tour. The museum tour consisted of learning about the story of Mary MacKillop, Father Julian Tenison Woods and the Sisters of Saint Joseph. I enjoyed leading the tour and sharing with the group my knowledge of the story, which I have acquired working for the Sisters of Saint Joseph.

After the museum tour, we went back to the Chapel to pray and reflect on the qualities of Mary MacKillop. We gathered in the reflection room where we all participated in a nine-part Mary MacKillop Novena, with each person reading one section. We reflected on the woman Mary MacKillop was – a woman of faith, conviction, courage, action, compassion, prayer, forgiveness, vision and the poor. Reflecting on these qualities and listening to the quotes of Mary MacKillop, in addition to hearing the words from Scripture, enabled us to to reflect on how we ourselves can act on these qualities and teachings in our lives.

To conclude our time at Mary MacKillop Place, we all gathered around Mary MacKillop’s tomb for personal prayer.

Following prayer, we walked down to Wendy’s Secret Garden located in Lavender Bay to have lunch. We thoroughly enjoyed having lunch in nature with a fantastic view of Sydney harbour.

Boundless had a great, memorable and spiritual experience at Mary MacKillop Place! We had left having learnt more about Mary MacKillop, her connections and impact, and being inspired by Mary MacKillop to make a difference in our world.

Mary Baynie
Communications Officer
Sisters of Saint Joseph

Sainthood Comes in Moments

This month of August, during which we celebrate the 110th anniversary of Saint Mary MacKillop’s death, is a timely reminder that all of us are called to be saints – here and now!  Mary understood this – and her entire life reflected this understanding.

In 1870, as an earnest 28 year-old, Mary shared her insights about living saints with her ‘own dear Mamma’:

…Do you try now in real earnest to be a saint?  You may smile at my question, but our dear good God wants you to be one! I used to think it the height of presumption to desire such a thing, but have been taught that such diffidence is not humility…Mary MacKillop to her mother Flora – 10 September 1870

Little could the youthful Mary have every imagined that she would become Australia’s first canonised saint so many years later!

In this month’s reflection from the Little Brown Book Too, the authors, Sue and Leo Kane, provide us with another reminder that Earth is meant to be full of living saints, and that our ‘Sainthood comes in moments’.

Love one another and bear with one another and let love guide you in all your life.Mary MacKillop 1909

Sister Ethelberga, Mary’s nurse, said of her: ‘I never knew her to speak an unkind word to anybody. Neither would she permit any Sister to do so in her hearing.’

As we go about our days, we teach, not so much by preaching lessons, as by the way we are in this world. Our way of seeing things and people will come through in our responses. Mary knew this instinctively:

We must teach more by example than by word.Mary MacKillop 1867

A very young Sister Laurence (who later became the third Superior General of the Sisters) once said to Mary: “Mother,  I think you are especially kind to people who give you trouble and worry.” “Ah, you little rogue!” was the lovely reply of a compassionate and human Mary.

Sainthood comes in moments: of gentleness, of humour, of kindness, of times when we choose to do the loving thing.  And for our ‘companions on the journey’, such moments help to keep their hope alive.

If we love one another, God lives in us…1 John 4:12

The above is an extract from The Little Brown Book Too (pages 32-33)

© Sue and Leo Kane 2011. Introduction Mary Ryan rsj.

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)

Photo: ‘Sainthood comes in moments’ by Mary Ryan rsj. Used with permission.

Living from the Heart

This month, as we continue mining the gold from Sue and Leo Kane’s Little Brown Book Too,  we are invited to ponder a simple story about Mary MacKillop which provides yet another example of how she lived from the heart.

There were no limits to her love… how do I measure up?

Mary had managed only a very early cup of tea for breakfast before she arrived at the convent in the afternoon. The Sisters had prepared a meal for her. Sister Borgia Healy tells the story:

Just as she was about to sit to the table, a knock came to the door.  I went to see who was there and a poor, half-starved, baby clothed old man stood before me. “Would you give me something to eat, miss?”  he said.  “I can get no work in  this town, not anything to eat. I’m very weak.”

Mother Mary followed me to the door, and when she saw the man, she said:

Sister dear, give to the poor creature what you have prepared for me. It will do me more good to give him a dinner, poor old man—perhaps some father that the world has been hard with. Mary MacKillop

For Mary, that hungry old man was Jesus coming to her door. She often told her Sisters:

Never see a need without doing something about it. Mary MacKillop

Her compassion sprang from her spirit of love and self-forgetfulness.

It knew no boundaries!

I was hungry and you gave me food…               Jesus: in Matthew 25:35

The above is an extract from The Little Brown Book Too (pages 32-33)

© 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 of Mary, Sister and poor family: Artist unknown

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.

Raised from ‘Death’ to New Life

How or When Have You Been Raised From ‘Death’ to New Life?

Jesus is raised from the dead! Most of us have experienced times when things have been grim: we have lost a significant other… our treasured hopes have been destroyed… we have been let down, even betrayed… and it seems like the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is an on-coming train!

Generally these painful times pass and life returns to a certain equilibrium – until our next crisis or disaster! This, of course is the pattern, the ebb and flow of human life… ‘death’ and ‘resurrection’.

When we look back and reflect, we can often recognise that something good emerged out of those times of darkness… that we have, in fact, journeyed through a ‘death experience’ to new life! These ‘light-bulb’ moments are gifts: they are  ‘Easter’ or ‘Resurrection’ moments… blessings that give us reason to shout, or sing, or say, or perhaps even whisper “Alleluia”!

The Gospels tell us that suffering and death do not have the last word. When Jesus died on the cross this seemed like the end of the hopes and dreams for both Jesus and his followers, but this confusion was soon replaced by joy. As you complete your journey with the Stations of the Cross, call to mind the Good News that Jesus rises from the tomb to a new life with God. Resurrection is a new way of being with God, for risen life is life with God.

The Gospel writers ponder on the meaning of this mystery that lies at the heart of Christian experience. They present us with four different accounts.

Spend some time praying with the Good News presented to us by Matthew:

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly There was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightening, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples. Matt 28: 1-8
  • Read the story through slowly… imagine the scene
  • Now become part of this story… imagine yourself at the empty tomb
  • Open your mind and heart to the wonder of Jesus’ resurrection, to the truth of his presence and action in your midst

Moments in the life of Mary MacKillop

Saint Mary MacKillop shows us what it means to live in the light of the Resurrection.  She was a woman of hope and trust, an inspiration to those around her.  She sees the blessings hidden in the cross, and her life lives out of the light of the resurrection. Mary invites us to do the same…

God is good and has brought light and help when all was very dark…Mary MacKillop 1899

Prayer

Jesus, your death upon the cross and resurrection transformation reminds me of the transformative possibilities in my own life. Give me the courage to let go of my resistance to change, may I be ever open to the break-through of new beginnings so that I can be open to the delight of surprise.


Download the print version of this reflection (PDF)

This is our final reflection from Stations of the Cross: A Journey with St Mary of the Cross MacKillop – Valerie De Brenni  (Introduction to this reflection: Mary Ryan rsj)

© 2012 Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart

Available for purchase @ $7.95 from Mary MacKillop Place Bookshop, Mount Street, North Sydney, or online


 

Image: ‘Resurrection’: Mary Ryan rsj. Used with permission.

It Seemed That All Was Lost

Have you ever experienced a loss that seemed like a disaster, yet, in time, proved to be a blessing?

To Jesus’ friends and followers, his death and burial in a cave were the absolute opposite of what they had fondly expected. In those moments, it seemed that everything that he had promised had been a giant hoax. Their hopes were dashed.

Through the gifts of hindsight and our faith, we know differently, and in this month of April, we reflect on the events of the first Holy Week, through a different lens from theirs. Unlike those who stood by, shocked and disheartened as they witnessed Jesus’ burial in a borrowed tomb, we know, and will celebrate again at Easter, that he rose again ‘on the third day’, and that his memory lives on in the lives of his present-day followers.

After a lifetime committed to following Jesus, and ever-mindful of the Cross in her life, Mary MacKillop’s burial bore a striking resemblance to that of Jesus. Her tombstone was also provided by a friend, Joanna Barr-Smith. Mary, of course, did not physically rise from the tomb, but her memory too lives on today. Mary’s spirit has captured the hearts of countless people who continue to be inspired by her story of love, courage, compassion, forgiveness and trust in our God who never stopped providing for her.

This month, we are invited to spend some time reflecting on the scene of Jesus’ burial, and to stand in solidarity with those who have lost hope.

Station 14: Jesus is Laid in the Tomb

A suggestion:

  • First: reflect upon what is happening to Jesus in this thirteenth Station
  • Next: ponder the Moments in the Life of Mary MacKillop
  • Finally: reflect upon how this links with your own life
So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock.  He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away.Matt 27:59-60

Gently, Joseph of Arimathea wrapped the body of Jesus in a linen cloth and placed in on a ledge, in a tomb that was probably a burial cave cut from the soft limestone rock. To protect the body from wild animals a large rock is placed at the entrance of the tomb. Those who love Jesus mourn their loss: it seems that all is lost.  The vision of God’s reign, so central to the life and ministry of Jesus, seems now a distant dream.

Moments in the life of Mary MacKillop

Mary MacKillop died in Alma Cottage, North Sydney on 8 August, 1909. Initially she was laid to rest in the Gore Hill Cemetery but in 1914 her remains were transferred to the Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel at Mount St, North Sydney convent where she was placed in front of the altar of the Blessed Virgin. Joanna Barr Smith paid for the beautiful marble tomb that has become her final resting place. This has become a place of pilgrimage as thousands of pilgrims come each year to visit this sacred place.

God is good and has brought light and help when all was very dark.   Mary MacKillop 1899

Moments in My Life

  • If you knew that this was your last day how would you spend your time?
  • What would you want to say to the significant people in your life?

Take a moment to reflect in silence upon these aspects of your life.  We tend to take life for granted and live in an unreflective manner. The death of a loved one can pull us up short and help us to re-prioritize what is really important. We come to a deeper understanding of what gives life meaning.

Prayer

Jesus you call me to be open to every aspect of my life, to be aware of its beauty, its gift.  You invite me to live with intention, to embrace each day. Constantly draw me toward all that is good, so that through my actions others may experience a glimpse of your goodness.

Forgive me Lord for the times when apathy in given free reign and I become blind to all that life holds. Encourage me to ponder on life’s meaning. Help me to graciously accept the process of ageing and to find wisdom in the passing of time. May I finally delight in your presence and find my rest in you.


Download the print version of this reflection (PDF)

Stations of the Cross: A Journey with St Mary of the Cross MacKillop – Valerie DeBrenni

© 2012 Trustees of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart

Available for purchase @ $7.95 from Mary MacKillop Place Bookshop, Mount Street, North Sydney, or online

 


 

Images:
Station 14: Mary MacKillop Memorial Chapel, North Sydney
‘Jesus is buried’: Mary Ryan rsj. Used with permission.