Reflection on Mary MacKillop

In his Apostolic Letter With a Father’s Heart (Patris Corde) Pope Francis has proclaimed this year as the Year of St Joseph.

Tomb of Mary MacKillop located in North Sydney, New South Wales

In writing, Francis describes St Joseph as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father, a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.”

Mary MacKillop must be rejoicing and acclaiming Pope Francis from her Godly surroundings on such a profoundly wise and appropriate declaration of our patron St Joseph!

Julian Tenison Woods, our co-founder’s experience whilst in France with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Le Puy inspired him to want sisters with the same spirit of humility and the desire to live a life of service among the ordinary people. It was not possible to bring these religious to South Australia, so Julian and Mary agreed that the new order of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart would imbibe a similar spirit calling on the example of St Joseph.

In a letter in March 1893, Mary wrote to the sisters about St Joseph’s hidden, humble life of St Joseph.

This humility is something wonderfully beautiful in itself. My sisters this was a ‘quiet humility’ … grounded on submission to the adorable will of God. It was a humility of heart, not of words … a silent, not a noisy humility.Mary MacKillop, March 1893

Mary urged each sister to demonstrate her gratitude by ministering with a generous, faithful spirit. She writes about St Joseph:

Guard the spirit of charity, the spirit of charity so dear to him … let us try to prove ourselves grateful children by closely imitating his hidden virtues, particularly his wondrous humility and obedience. In every difficulty, whether in school or convent, apply to him with confidence and you will never be disappointed. … In St Joseph’s Care I Leave You. Mary MacKillop, 1873

Pope Francis reminds us in his Apostolic Letter of this self-giving, hidden, humble man.

Joseph found happiness not in mere self-sacrifice but in self-gift. In him, we never see frustration but only trust. His patient silence was the prelude to concrete expressions of trust. The logic of love is always the logic of freedom, and Joseph knew how to love with extraordinary freedom. He never made himself the centre of things. He did not think of himself, but focused instead on the lives of Mary and Jesus.Pope Francis, Patris Corde

Reflection:

  • Mary had a strong devotion to St Joseph. She drew strength from his silent protection and his profound trust in the will of God. Pope Francis hails Joseph as being ‘creatively courageous” and a champion of families. Intercede with Joseph asking for protection, trust and courage.
  • What are you longing for in family life right now and how could Joseph help you?
  • Joseph believed in his calling. He gave himself totally to the challenge of raising Jesus despite all odds.  How can you draw on his example?

Michele Shipperley rsj